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can dogs have down syndrome

Can Dogs Have Down Syndrome Like Humans Do?

When it comes to health issues, there are quite a few resemblances between humans and other animals – especially mammals. This leads to us questioning whether dogs – man’s best friends – can have the same disorder like we do, such as autism. In this article, we cover another similar inquiry on canine disorder: can dogs have down syndrome as well?

The Science Aspect Of Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome In Human

First, let’s talk about down syndrome in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, down syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome. A chromosome is a package of genes our body carries. It also affects how the baby develops inside the mother’s womb, both mentally and physically.

A typical baby will be born with 46 chromosomes. However, a baby with down syndrome will have an additional copy of chromosome number 21. This changes how the baby’s brain works, and has a permanent impact on the baby’s growth in the future.
can dogs have down syndrome
Is there a chance your dog might be susceptible to down syndrome?
Some physical characteristics of a down person include:
  • A flattened face and upward slanted eyes
  • Small ears, hands and feet
  • Short neck
  • Shorter in heights with loose joints and muscles
Down syndrome will cause various physical challenges, since it can come with health problems like eye infection or hearing loss. Not only the body but the mentality of the child will also suffer from impairment in intelligence as well. This may vary on different extents.

Down Syndrome In Animals

A few years ago, people were going crazy about a tiger named Kenny, who was a rescue in Arkansas. Apart from his white coat of fur, which was extremely rare for tigers, he also had unusual facial features. The way Kenny looked was very similar to people who have down syndrome: a wide face and abnormally short snout.
tiger suspected to have down syndrome
Kenny the tiger had features that resembled human down syndrome
People started to spread information that tigers can have down syndrome from the look of Kenny. However, very soon this news was debunked. Arkansas’ Turpentine Creek Wildlife Reserve, the center that rescued Kenny, stated that his deformities were caused by inhumane breeding.

In order to preserve the white fur trait, these tigers were abused with generations of inbreeding. The chromosome mutation that causes these facial abnormalities is the same factor leading to chromosome mutation in human down syndrome. Fortunately, a law had put this unethical practice to a stop in 2011.

Watch: Why white tigers like Kenny can easily have genetic issues

Another reason why this tiger might not have human’s down syndrome, is that cats only have 19 pairs of chromosomes. Thus, they won’t be able to have chromosome 21. But what about animals that do have chromosome 21?

Thus, scientists beganlooking into a potential case of down syndrome in apes. They are very closely linked to humans, and carry 24 pairs of chromosomes. A study of a chimpanzee with an extra chromosome 22 showed that it had very similar symptoms of down syndrome. However, the conclusion was that it might just be another case of chromosome defect, and not confirmed down syndrome.

can dogs have down syndrome
Down syndrome in animals remains unconfirmed
Therefore, animals with down syndrome continue to be a theory only.

Can Dogs Have Down Syndrome?

We now learned that there has been no verified and official down syndrome detection in the animal world. But they can still display very similar signs and features of down syndrome – so do dogs.. These symptoms may be a challenge to you and your canine, and can cause health issues both mentally and physically.
There are no true down syndrome in dogs, but similar traits can emerge
These might be some down syndrome dog symptoms that you might notice:
  • Unusual facial features such as a wider hear and short snout
  • Hearing and seeing problems
  • Abnormal growth suspension
  • Mental disabilities
  • Poor muscle development
Dogs can be born with down syndrome-like symptoms as mentioned. Though these traits are very similar to those of humans, please do not treat this as true down syndrome. This might just be a case of genetic disorder.

How To Treat Dogs With Down Syndrome Features

When genetic deformity happens, there can be a few underlying issues that can directly affect your dog’s well-being. There might be a possibility of heart diseases, skin diseases and sensory loss. Moreover, as physical growth and mental development is delayed, your dog might need more attention than normal.
pay attention to your dog's health
Pay attention if your dog needs medical care
Once you notice these abnormalities arise, make sure to take your dog to the vet immediately. Puppies with down syndrome features need to be observed as soon as possible. A diagnostic plan is a must to ensure your dog’s health.
You might also want to ensure that you give your special needs dog a safe and secured environment. This is to prevent them from hurting themselves if they are suffering from physical and mental disability.

Chris Hawkins.

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