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That fluffy feline purring contently on your lap or that sleek black Labrador slapping his wagging tail against the chair may seem perfectly content. But what’s happening inside your pet – or what could happen in the future – may tell an entirely different story. Understanding an animal’s genetics can help uncover the truth.

That’s where Basepaws comes into play. A Zoetis-acquired pet genetics company, Basepaws develops screening tools for early detection of a pet’s risk for disease. Basepaws also offers at-home pet DNA tests that can uncover a pet’s genetic similarity to different breeds, their carrier status for genetic markers associated with heritable diseases and their likelihood for exhibiting certain physical traits based on their genetics.  

“Companion animals have different health issues. With dogs, different breeds tend to develop certain conditions, and crossbreeds can also have a unique set of health problems,” said Yuliana Mihaylova, the former head of research and development for Basepaws, who worked for years researching and developing genetic testing solutions for pets. “If you are a pet owner, understanding your animal’s genetic makeup can help you know how best to take care of your animal. If you know your pet is predisposed to a condition, you can talk to your veterinarian so they can catch the potential condition earlier and manage it. On the other hand, if you are a breeder, genetic testing can help avoid propagating certain genetic conditions by carefully selecting breeding pairs.”   

How genetic testing can help reveal the truth about your animal’s health   

For cats, who tend to hide pain, dental health is a serious issue. Basepaws developed a tool – an oral swab-based test that helps the veterinarian determine if periodontal disease is present based on the analysis of the oral microbiome. A cat’s oral microbiome can also give us a readout on systemic health. For example, in humans, certain chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)1,2 and chronic kidney disease (CKD)3,4 are linked to specific changes in the oral microbiome. There is also a well-established link between CKD and periodontal disease in humans.5   

Based on statistics,6 a “surprising amount of pet owners do not keep up with annual wellness visits, and a lot of health issues get caught at a later stage when the damage is already done,” said Yuliana. “With at-home early disease risk detection tools such as the Basepaws tests, the pet owner and the veterinarian can work together on developing a personalized approach to pet care and wellness.”   

Innovative minds working together  

Basepaws recently did a case study for atopic dermatitis in felines, Yuliana noted. Basepaws provided the genomes of multiple cats diagnosed with this condition, as well as the genomes of healthy cats to be used as controls. Meanwhile, Zoetis’ Veterinary Medicine R&D organization had data from transcriptomic studies in pets with atopic dermatitis and access to publicly available human studies from atopic dermatitis cases. The collaboration resulted in identifying novel genetic targets linked to atopic dermatitis and mapping of disease-associated pathways to create a clearer biological picture of this skin condition that causes pruritus, or itchy skin in cats and dogs.  

Yuliana said scientists will continue to find ways to innovate together with one goal in mind: “to pioneer new discoveries that will improve the well-being of pets everywhere.” 

Published on May 16, 2024; Updated on July 23, 2024
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How an oral health test saved this cat’s life

“Baby” was always a happy and healthy kitty. When an oral test from Basepaws discovered he was at medium risk for several feline dental conditions, Baby’s parents took him to the veterinarian, who uncovered a health issue that saved Baby’s life. Keep reading to find out more from Baby’s guardian, Corinne.

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References

1 The human gastrointestinal tract and oral microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease: a state of the science review
2 The Oral Microbiome in Pediatric IBD: A Source of Pathobionts or Biomarkers?
3 Characteristics of human oral microbiome and its non-invasive diagnostic value in chronic kidney disease
4 Salivary microbiome in kidney diseases: A narrative review
5 Chronic Kidney Disease and Periodontitis Interplay—A Narrative Review
6 Familiarity and Use of Veterinary Services by US Resident Dog and Cat Owners - PMC (nih.gov)

The animal health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with an animal healthcare professional. All decisions regarding the care of a veterinary patient must be made with an animal healthcare professional, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.

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