People are familiar with Down syndrome in humans, but have you heard of the Down syndrome dog issue?
First, it is essential to understand that genetic disorders can affect humans and animals, including dogs.
If your dog has a genetic disorder like Down syndrome, learn how to provide the best care for your pet.
Can dogs have Down’s syndrome?
Unlike the Down syndrome that people experience, there is no straightforward answer to whether genetic abnormalities cause Down syndrome dog issues.
For example, dogs suffer from a growth hormone deficiency, but a sick or impaired dog doesn’t signify that they suffer from a genetic disorder caused by Down syndrome.
When there is an additional chromosome 21, people have Down syndrome. But even if dogs have a chromosomal abnormality, their Down syndrome won’t be the same as humans.
Dogs have 39 sets of chromosomes, while humans have 23. Dogs’ genetic material is different. And that genetic material is the reason why Down syndrome doesn’t exist in dogs the way it does in humans.
Few vets say Down syndrome exists in dogs, but genetic conditions can affect them. Your vet can determine whether your dog exhibits signs of Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities.
One dog’s condition may vary from others. For example, some dogs with chromosomal abnormalities may have pituitary dwarfism, while others have unusual physical features. Some may have poor eyesight, a short neck, or a small head, while others may suffer kidney failure.
Be warned; early death is likely for dogs with a genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormalities.
Some warning signs your dog suffers from genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities include:
- Congenital heart disease.
- Poor eyesight and cataracts.
- Small head and neck, caused by congenital hydrocephalus.
- Poor muscle tone, which can cause pain.
- Poor health due to thyroid issues like congenital hypothyroidism or abnormally developed internal organs.
- Abnormal or distinctive physical features include pituitary dwarfism, deformed or incomplete legs, warm and dry noses, hair loss, or distinctive facial features.
Consult your vet if your dog appears to have any of these conditions or genetic abnormalities. Suppose your dog has abnormal facial features, an abnormal circulatory system, congenital heart disease. In that case, you will need to work with your veterinarian to formulate a plan to care for your dog.
Understand that even if your vet cannot determine if your dog’s symptoms indicate Down syndrome, genetic disorders or genetic abnormalities occur in dogs and lead to early death.
The vet may do genetic testing to determine whether your dog has chromosomal abnormalities. If your puppy shows any warning signs, immediately take your dog to a vet to check for a genetic disorder.
How to care for a Down Syndrome dog
Although there is no evidence dogs experience Down syndrome like people, vets can determine if your dog has a similar genetic disorder.
A dog’s life is already shorter than humans, and genetic disorders can further cut a dog’s life expectancy.
Dog bodies are different than humans, and that’s why pet owners must be alert to warning signs because they affect a dog’s life expectancy.
If your dog suffers from a genetic disorder, there are things you can do to help, including:
Remove physical obstacles
A Down syndrome dog can have poor vision, which can cause it to bump its head or legs into walls or furniture. So clear obstacles from your dog’s path that could cause injury.
If you have a staircase, installing a baby gate will prevent dogs with down syndrome from climbing stairs and potentially falling. If your house has tile or marble flooring, consider adding throw rugs to keep your dog from slipping or sliding.
Understand potty training challenges
A Down syndrome dog can be tricky to potty train. The dog may not pick up on your training cues and learn to recognize when it’s time to go outside.
Compensate by taking your dog outside more often to go potty and consider using dog diapers indoors.
If your dog has an accident in the house, clean it up promptly and sanitize the area.
Exercise patience with a Down syndrome dog
In the end, everything boils down to the love and care you provide. A Down syndrome dog will need more time and patience than other dogs.
Adopting a dog with Down syndrome or another genetic disorder requires more care, so be prepared.
You may need to help your dog in ways you might not expect. For example, dogs with Down syndrome may not eat independently. In that case, the owner will need to help feed the dog regularly.
Poor body posture or conditions or abnormally formed legs may make walking difficult for a Down syndrome dog. In those cases, you may need to help your dog move either by using a dog sling or dog wheelchair.
What animals get Down Syndrome?
It’s tough to tell what animals show signs of Down syndrome or if they experience another genetic disorder. But some mammals similar to humans like chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas have shown symptoms of Down syndrome.
Can dogs be mentally challenged?
Yes, dogs have brains, and any animal with a brain can experience mental challenges. Genetic disorders like Down syndrome in dogs can cause mental slowness, making it more difficult to train the dog.