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(a.k.a., We don’t look alike; how could we be related?)

Dshutterstock_63126721-with-frameAlthough our pets look very different from us, we share a lot of genetic material, otherwise known as genes or DNA with our pets. In fact, the human genome and the canine genome are 90% identical!

Scientists and researchers can use these similarities to study why diseases occur, what happens to the body, and how they can be treated. By looking at people or animals and making connections both benefit from what is learned.

There is also evidence that certain breeds are overrepresented in certain types of cancer or in numbers of cancer overall. Breeds commonly known to have higher types of certain cancers include Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs; however, any pet could get cancer regardless of their breed or lineage.

What can I do?

  1. Talk to your veterinarian about any increased risks of inherited diseases or cancers in your pet’s breed.
  2. Just as our doctor wants to know if any our relatives have had cancer, your veterinarian would benefit from knowing if there is cancer in your pet’s lineage. If you have a way to find out the health of your pet’s parents, siblings or other relatives, ask about any cancers in related animals and let your veterinarian know what you learn.
  3. Learn more about the connections between genes in dogs and people
    a.    Lee JJ. Dogs and Human Genomes Evolved Together. National Geographic. May 14, 2013.
    b.    Lovgren S. Dog Genome Mapped, Shows Similarities to Humans. National Geographic News. December 7, 2005.
    c.    Wang G-d et al. The genomics of selection in dogs and the parallel evolution between dogs and humans.