Can dogs have Down syndrome? You may consider it a strange question that you don’t even know how to address. Indeed, little research has been carried out to seek a thorough answer to whether a dog can suffer from that kind of illness; unfortunately, none of it seems to be done.
We have seen several people with Down syndrome and witnessed the fact that their lives are distinctly limited both physically and mentally. Down syndrome dog, as we call a genetically affected dog, encounters somewhat similar obstacles in their daily activities compared to humans.
If you think you are raising a dog with Down syndrome, there is a significant amount of knowledge you need to know to help prolong your dog’s life expectancy, which we will be discussing in this post.
Down syndrome explanation, Down syndrome in dogs
Table of Contents
- What is Down syndrome? To address this question, we have to go back to the basic information ‘How many chromosomes do we have?’ and ‘How many chromosomes do dogs have?’ since this illness is caused by a defect in our genetic orders. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes; that is 46 single ones in total. Dogs have 78. A human baby born with Down syndrome, however, has a full or extra chromosome 21, which results in a genetic disorder and many deformities.
No scientific evidence has been found confirming that an extra chromosome 21 in dogs would lead to Down syndrome, as an extra 21 in dogs and humans have different effects. Therefore, until this day, we have yet to find an accurate answer to whether dogs have Down syndrome or not.
However, because the slow development and congenital deformities found in some dogs are similar to symptoms of Down syndrome in humans, scientists think it would be appropriate to address a dog with this kind of sickness as Down syndrome dog.
Symptoms of Down syndrome
We think it would be good to provide you with some understanding about people with Down syndrome first. For some of you who has never met one, that person has the following combination of physical features (we’re not talking about medical or mental problems):
- flattened face and abnormal ears
- almond-shaped eyes (or puffy eyes) which slant up
- short neck
- loss of front teeth
- sticking-out tongue
- a single crease on palm
A Down syndrome dog, surprisingly, may share many physical features. Moreover, just like a person who suffers from Down syndrome, your dog can show odd behavioral patterns, limited abilities and weak competency compared to healthy normal puppies and therefore can be hard to handle.
Physical features of Down syndrome dogs
You may have noticed already, of course, that a few things on your dog’s face do not look as normal as they should be. Flattened face? Yes. Upwardly slanting eyes? Yes. A dog with Down syndrome can also be bug-eyed. In addition, his tongue sticks out and may appear to stay on one side only, left or right. His head looks small and fragile and sometimes tilts to the same side as his tongue when we walks. Dogs with Down syndrome can possess weird shaped ears, which affects their hearing ability.
The limbs of a Down syndrome dog usually demonstrate signs of deformity. Walking normally or running around could be major obstacles that prove to be insurmountable. He can still have legs, but we have seen situations that a dog has a very frail and bending leg or just loses one.
Dogs that are in pain may confuse you with dogs with Down syndrome. That is because a Down syndrome dog can have a very dry nose and weird skin padding. Furthermore, he may experience severe hair loss or unwanted skin shedding as well.
Odd behavioral patterns and limited abilities
An extra chromosome found in dogs may lead to premature death; there have been cases when very small puppies died just a few days after birth since they were too weak to handle the deformities. Several dogs manage to live up to 5 years, mental incapacities causing difficulties in feeding and taking care of themselves.
If yours is lucky and healthy enough to lead a longer life, we’re sorry to say that he also has very weird traits, resulting from restricted brain development and low competency. There is little we can do about it, either for people or for dogs with Down syndrome.
Teaching a dog with Down syndrome may be the most demanding job in the world of pet care, as there are plenty of things that needs taking into account and numerous problems popping up.
- Down syndrome dog is really slow in understanding, hence the need for the owner to be incredibly patient and repeating every lesson for not under 10 times. He can’t be potty-trained, which means he’ll go outside and back inside the house and urinate on your brand new carpet.
- Your dog may also feel baffled when you put his food or water in the dog bowl. He is not used to that. Actually, dogs with Down syndrome can be forsaken by their own mothers the moment they come into this world. If one does survive and is raised by an owner, usually he is left again. Sad as it seems, these dogs do not have a normal life as healthier ones.
- Congenital heart disease is often seen in dogs with Down syndrome. They were born with many deformities inside their fragile bodies, so a malfunctioning heart or respiratory system in easy to explain.
- It may hurt most to see your dog bleeding where its rectum is. As said before, these dogs have extreme difficulties in letting out their waste, so bleeding happens more when your dog is getting older.
- Poor visibility is also one of the restricted abilities in Down syndrome dogs. There eyes tend to slant up and the fact that damaged organs and body parts hinder their movements around the house. They run into walls or big things on the floor, which accidentally causes him more external and internal injuries.
- One thing that may happen in dogs that are in pain and Down syndrome dogs is their being more vocal. Fair enough, they are all feeling unwell! Dogs with Down syndrome howl, snarl, and growl more, suggesting that not only are their physical features affected but their inner parts are weakened as well.
How do we raise Down syndrome dogs?
As we have been discussing, there is no cure for Down syndrome, both in humans and dogs. So don’t expect that your dog can be healthy again. Instead, you should focus on how to bring him as normal a life as possible once you decided to be with him on the journey. We do not mean that there is very little hardship and that everyone can overcome, but responsibility and love can make you stronger and help your ‘best friend’.
- First and foremost, be patient. It’s not a one-day or one-month journey as it can take you years. Like a child with Down syndrome who finds everything so inaccessible and so hard to absorb, dogs just feel the same. One lesson will have to be repeated for weeks, and when he forgets, it’s really easy for us to get impatient. Thus, be prepared to have a dog like this.
- He cannot control his bladder, thereby constantly urinating or defecating on your carpets. Make sure that you keep your house clean after every time your dog does it and keep the kids away to prevent bacteria. Equip your dog with diapers is a good idea since it costs less and is also safer when you have kids.
- Poor eyesight causes dogs to run into things; therefore, get rid of any bulky furniture or big obstacles to create space for your dog to walk. Also, keep an eye on him when you can so that you are fully aware whenever he has injuries and take him to your home veterinarian. If there is no one to watch him as he goes around the house, keep him in a comfortable cage.
- Let your dog have a check-up with home veterinarian as often as possible. They are animal specialists so they know what to do with Down syndrome dogs and can give you any explanation to your dog’s weird behaviour and symptoms. Medication is only available by prescription, so frequent visits are necessary.
- Plan a diet for your dog. Some of you may regard this as unnecessary since he is permanently ill. Although he cannot fully recover, nutritious food can make him feel better. Anything that has vitamins can do. Additionally, protein in food gives him more energy and encourages him to be more active during a day. But remember, enough nutrients can do, but abundance in amounts can be detrimental.
- Exercise with your dog more often. A Down syndrome dog has to avoid strenuous training like running too fast or for so long distance. However, letting him work up lightly can help ease the tense and discomfort he feels on his body parts. Going for a walk, for instance, develops appetite, which means he’ll eat more and receive more nutrients.
See more: What can I give my dog for pain
Adoption suggestions and questions
Some people about to adopt pet dogs may ask how we can know if a dog has Down syndrome. Well, it’s hard to say because there are puppies that show very few symptoms but as they grow, the abnormal features start to be more apparent and they start to act weirdly.
As a result, we cannot give you an answer for that question, but here in this section at WewPet we wish to share our understanding about Down syndrome dog adoption.
An association called Pets Haven Foundation has been said to foster special-needs dogs. Some people have adopted one for their own, with Down syndrome diagnosed later on, and now they still raise these dogs with endless love, care and admirable patience. If you want to find a better home for your Down syndrome dog, this foundation can be a really good place.
Can dogs with Down syndrome socialize? The answer is Yes. This is the question we usually get when people want to adopt more pet dogs. Your dog may find it a little bit strange at first to find it has several new friends, but it’ll be fine as long as you manage to take care of them all! Take notice that a Down syndrome dog has problem with bladder, so sanitize often and make sure other pets don’t get involved.
Raising a dog Down syndrome can be hard and fun as well. It teaches you how to nurse a permanently sick dog and you may find yourself learning to open your heart more.
After all, it is not just the information we give you that assists you, but you should also prepare for all the challenges coming along the way and be patient enough to raise your ‘best friend’ as this is not going to be any easy journey.
Be patient, and love more!