Some animal owners would like to have their dog tested for hereditary diseases. Naturally, this can be purely out of interest. However, they may also be aware that one of the parent animals suffered or suffers from hereditary diseases or the owner would like any diseases to be identified early so as to minimise the damage. Testing for hereditary diseases is also always done when the animal is to be used for breeding. Breed associations usually require such breeding soundness examinations to be performed for breeding approval.
Procedure of testing for hereditary diseases
The vet will examine your dog thoroughly. This includes what is known as a general examination in which the entire animal is assessed. Do the skin and coat, sensory organs as well as lungs and heart appear normal or are there unusual changes? Apart from looking and feeling, a stethoscope is also used to auscultate (listen to) the lungs and heart.
Further special investigation methods are then used to examine individual organs more precisely. Bones and joints are surveyed by X-ray and abdominal organs can be looked at more closely with ultrasound. For some hereditary diseases there are now genetic tests that are performed using a blood sample.
If you have noticed anything out of the ordinary in your dog, just tell your vet about it. This can include behaviour patterns or symptoms that the dog may not reveal in the practice but may show at home (e.g., excessive scratching, lameness directly after he stands up etc.). Naturally, you should always consult a vet if there are signs of disease.
If you would like to have your dog tested for hereditary diseases, ask your vet beforehand about what you need to be aware of. For example, some X-rays have to be taken under an anaesthetic and the animal should be fasting for this.