Dealing with hereditary disease in dogs

Dr Cathryn Mellersh at BSAVA

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has called on vets to take a proactive role in tackling hereditary disease and to advise breeders on the tests available to them before they breed from their animals.

Speaking at a press briefing during last week’s B(ritish)SAVA Congress 2017, Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of Canine Genetics at the Animal Health Trust and a member of the WSAVA Hereditary Disease Committee, also urged vets not to shy away from telling owners when they make a bad choice, to try and deter them from making the same mistake again.

During her briefing, Dr Mellersh explained that concern about hereditary disease, particularly in dogs, had grown significantly in recent years both within the veterinary profession and among owners and breeders, due to an increased awareness of the risks it poses to animals.

She also explained that this heightened awareness had coincided with a period of rapid progress in the development of tools and resources to tackle hereditary disease, including an online DNA database, created by the WSAVA’s Hereditary Disease Committee which is accessible, and free of charge to veterinarians around the world.

Dr Mellersh concluded: “I ask vets to work with us and to contribute to the very real progress that is being made to tackle hereditary disease, particularly in dogs. Advances in technology are driving this progress and it is also being supported by many breeders and by the Kennel Club.

“The greatest challenge we face is that of educating the general public that they should be mindful of hereditary disease when choosing a puppy and should seek out those whose breeders have had the appropriate DNA tests and clinical screens.”

For those wishing to increase their knowledge in this area, hereditary disease is one of the key issues to be discussed during this year’s WSAVA World Congress in Copenhagen from 25-28 September.

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