How to Tell if Your Dog Has Down Syndrome
All living organisms have cells. And every cell in these organisms has a nucleus that houses genetic material like genes. Genes get passed from one generation to the next and are found on the chromosomes carrying genotypic codes.
Human cells have a nucleus that contains 48 chromosomes. These chromosomes are in pairs. Unlike humans, dog cells have a nucleus that contains 78 pairs of chromosomes. When there is something wrong with chromosome 21 in the human cells, it results in Down syndrome.
According to science, Down syndrome could occur in animals such as chimpanzees that are related to humans. However, four-legged animals such as dogs and cats are most likely not to have Down syndrome as there is no evidence of the development of this abnormality in dogs and other four-legged animals.
Although Down syndrome itself is not expected to occur in dogs, some dogs have it. Also, according to science, other genetic abnormalities affect dogs. Some of these congenital abnormalities are almost like Down syndrome.
Everyone that has owned a dog for a while knows humans and dogs have a very similar nature.
Some pet owners have come out to complain that their canines do not look like other dogs but have behavioral, body, and facial features similar to the traits exhibited by humans with Down syndrome. Nonetheless, lots of clinical conditions lead to doubts concerning the existence of Down syndrome in dogs.
One out of every 700 babies in humans could get affected with Down syndrome. However, the chances of dogs having such disease are not as common as it is in humans. When dogs have Down syndrome, they die early. Due to this, proper genetic testing is yet to be carried out.
Signs a Dog Might be Suffering from Down Syndrome
Dogs with Down syndrome have very unusual behaviors, and their owners usually do not understand these behaviors. When dogs have Down syndrome, they show signs of a significant health disorder which are quite like the signs show by humans with Down syndrome.
- When dogs have flattened faces and round eyes, it could be a sign of Down syndrome. They could also have some uncommon features like eyes and ears with abnormal shapes, small head, and short neck.
Additionally, when dogs have Down syndrome, their noses are warm and dry. They also have underdeveloped and deformed legs and experience hair loss.
- When dogs have Down syndrome, they exhibit strange traits and behaviors. Some of these traits are wailing, howling, and whining. Certain dogs with Down syndrome remain in the developmental stages for a long time. Due to this, they might be strangely reserved.
- These dogs are difficult to train and feed because controlling their urination is a significant challenge as they have challenges with their bladder. If you must train a dog with Down syndrome, you must be ready to go through many difficulties and have a great deal of patience.
- Dogs with Down syndrome do not have very sharp ears. They find it difficult to hear and adhere to commands.
- When dogs have Down syndrome, they are known to have congenital heart diseases. This is due to abnormal circulations and malformations.
- Down syndrome affects a dog’s entire body. Due to this, body parts and organs can be affected. This will lead to general body pain. Sometimes, this pain gets very severe.
- There could be bloody discharge from a dog’s rectum in advanced stages of Down syndrome.
- Dogs dealing with Down syndrome have stunted growths and are small.
- The abnormal development in dogs with Down syndrome sometimes affects their eyes. In these dogs, the risks of being affected by cataracts are very high.
If you own a pet with Down syndrome, look out for the buildup of cloudiness in its eyes as this is a sign cataract could affect it later in life.
- When dogs have Down syndrome, their muscles are weak and less coordinated. Also, their limbs are small-sized.
- Challenges with tooth eruption, walking, and running abnormalities are common in dogs with Down syndrome. These dogs also have eyelid problems. Due to this, they might find opening their eyes difficult.
- The slow growth rate makes them end up smaller than other dogs. They also have a large tongue that is unable to remain in the mouth and broad head.
Similar Conditions to Down syndrome in Dogs
There are lots of congenital and developmental abnormalities in dogs. Some of these abnormalities have symptoms that are quite like the symptoms associated with Down syndrome in dogs. It might be difficult to notice these symptoms by just looking at the dogs. You can discover these symptoms when you examine the dog’s nature and behavior because of a certain disorder.
When dogs suffer from congenital hypothyroidism, they exhibit symptoms that are like the symptoms associated with Down syndrome. When the levels of thyroid hormones in dogs are low or absent, it leads to hypothyroidism. These occur at birth or early in the dog’s life.
Many other disorders have clinical features that are similar to the characteristics of Down syndrome. Some of these features are congenital hydrocephalus, dwarfisms, lowered growth hormone levels, genetic anomalies or mutations, and portosystemic shunt.
Going by this, if you notice any symptoms that could be associated with Down syndrome, the first thing you should do is talk with a vet.
How Should You Care for Dogs with Down Syndrome?
It is impossible to fix genetic mutation in dogs completely. When dogs have genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, there are lots of ways to improve the quality of their life and lower the gravity of the symptoms.
- If your dog is showing signs of Down syndrome, ensure you do not give it foods that contain meat products and fillers. Instead, you should give it high-quality foods. Before buying any food, ensure you take out time to go through the dog food labels.
- Dogs with Down syndrome might have issues with their immunity. So to keep them healthy, you should give them fresh meat and vegetables. This is because vegetables help with their immunity, while meat is rich in protein and handy in repairing muscles.
- To relieve dogs of thyroid challenges, ensure you give them fresh water with some salt from time to time.
- When dogs suffer from Down syndrome, their eating habits are sometimes finicky. You, therefore, will have to give them vitamins to help with their appetite. Additionally, food items with strong scents will come in very handy.
- When suffering from Down syndrome, dogs often deal with skin allergies. Due to this, you will be making a wrong move if you take them outside in pollen gains season. Additionally, if your dog gets hurt, you must clean up the wound quickly. This will help keep skin infections away.
- Additionally, you should keep physical barriers away since your dogs’ eyesight is not perfect. While many people will expect their dog to avoid physical barriers while walking around, dogs with Down syndrome will bump into these barriers and might end up being injured.
- Potty training for dogs with Down syndrome is not usually easy. So, to make it easier, you might have to invest in diapers for male or female dogs or get puppy pee pads.
- If your dog has to deal with pain in its joints, you will need to get an orthopedic dog bed and soft pillows. Furthermore, it would be best if you made the area it sleeps very comfortable.
- Visit the vet regularly as you might not be sure how to handle a dog with Down syndrome. Your vet will help you through the most likely treatment alternatives to make your dog feel better.
- When dogs have Down syndrome, they tend to become aggressive. You, therefore, will have to be careful around them to avoid being bitten.
What Exercise are Ideal for Dogs with Down syndrome
When dogs have Down syndrome, you will need to keep them in top shape by ensuring they exercise regularly. Beyond just exercising, some exercises are suitable for dogs with Down syndrome. These exercises are vital as they will help dogs avoid secondary anomaly.
Dogs with Down syndrome cannot take part in challenging exercise as they could suffer from limb, muscle, and heart problems.
The average person might not know the right exercise for a dog with Down syndrome. This means you will have to talk with your vet before engaging your dog in any activity.
Some exercises you take put your dog through are;
- Scratch dance
- Tug of War
What to do if Your Dogs is Affected
Down syndrome in dogs is not common. It, however, is a very dreadful condition. This means you will have to take some steps to ensure your dog is not affected by this condition.
To help your canine stay healthy, you will need to visit the vet regularly. This way, this condition can be diagnosed on time if your dog has it. Once diagnosed, treatment should start.