Illustrated Articles

Characteristics

  • There are multiple methods of inheritance including autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive and sex-linked inheritance that determine which characteristics (or phenotypes) are displayed by the offspring. There are also many polygenic traits (i.e., associated with multiple genes) as well as environmental factors that make prediction of disease or likelihood of passing disease onto offspring much more complicated.

  • Mutations are errors made during DNA replication. Mutations can be acquired as cells divide within the body or can be inherited if the parent’s DNA contains a mutation. Acquired mutations can arise spontaneously or can be triggered by external factors. Effects of mutation depend on what area of the DNA has been altered and can range from no effect to severe effects such as cancer development. Genetic markers can be used to determine genetic heritage such as breed origins.

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a long molecule that contains an animal’s entire genetic code. DNA is primarily located within the nucleus of each cell. In the nucleus, enzymes transcribe the DNA bases into a substance called RNA (ribonucleic acid), which serves as a messenger, taking the DNA message out into the cytoplasm of the cell where the RNA is translated into proteins. These proteins are responsible for a number of functions in the cell and throughout the body, primarily by acting as enzymes that regulate various cell reactions. DNA tests allow us to examine an animal’s DNA in order to see whether they carry certain genetic diseases. DNA testing can also be used to determine the ancestry of an animal.

  • Dogs use their noses infinitely more than humans to get around in the world and gather information. With specialized olfactory organs that detect pheromones, dogs' sense of smell is thousands of times better than humans.

  • This handout discusses the concept of hypoallergenic dogs. These breeds are meant to create less allergic reactions in people that suffer from dog allergies. Humans sometimes react to the proteins found in dog saliva and dander. Precautions to take when trying to reduce your exposure to these allergens are highlighted. As well, breeds that tend to be less reactive to dog allergy sufferers are discussed.

  • The lacrimal duct is part of the nasolacrimal system, a series of narrow tubes that allow tears to drain from the eye into the nose and mouth. This duct can sometimes become blocked or fail to develop properly, resulting in tears overflowing and potentially staining the face below the eye. The clinical signs, diagnosis, and treatment options for the condition are explained in this handout.

  • Feral cats are fiercely independent and survive (but may not thrive) without the help of humans. They avoid people and hide, back away, or flee when they spot humans. Lack of immunization, parasite control, adequate nutrition, and hygiene put feral cats at risk of many life-threatening problems. TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) programs are the hallmark of controlling feral cat populations.

  • The pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene, if mutated, can contribute to increased body fat and body weight and increased food motivation in affected dogs. At this time, this gene mutation has only been found in the Labrador Retriever and Flat-coated Retriever and affects the majority of those working as service dogs. This handout explains how the POMC gene mutation was discovered, how it impacts affected dogs, and how you can support your dog if affected.

  • Many dogs love to get out to socialize and exercise with their canine friends and dog parks are their go-to spots for getting together. Proper etiquette, from both you and your pup, will allow everyone to enjoy the park safely and courteously.

  • A recessed vulva, also referred to as a juvenile or hypoplastic vulva, is a conformational issue that occurs in female dogs. In this condition, the vulva is recessed within, or partially hidden by, surrounding folds of skin. Some dogs might have a recessed vulva for their entire life without ever experiencing any visible effects. In other dogs, however, a recessed vulva can predispose them to vaginitis and/or urinary tract infections. Depending on the severity of your dog’s clinical signs, medical or surgical options may be used to treat this condition.