three dogs different breeds outdoors

Genetics

How genetics can help us understand and love our pets better

Love is always on our minds when February comes around and Love Your Pet Day is no exception. 

A key part of loving our pets is making sure they’re well-taken care of in all aspects of their life. Our researchers are working together with other research teams across Mars Petcare to advance pets’ wellness, health and nutrition, in part through genetic testing

Genetic tests like Wisdom Panel™ can provide unparalleled insights into our canine companions. A deeper understanding of dogs’ genetic traits may even help us love our pets better and reverse the worrying trend of pet abandonment
 

Dogs' genetic traits define our pets' needs 

When we adopt a rescue dog, we likely won’t know what their breed mix is. Even if learning a rescue dog’s breed breakdown won’t affect how much we love them, it can help ease our pet ownership journey. Every dog is an individual, and their unique breed makeup affects their needs on several levels. 

Knowing your dog’s genetic breed mix will help inform pet owners about their dog’s needs when it comes to:

  • Exercise: Whether it’s a quick walk in the park, a long hike, or some quality playtime, a dog’s unique breed mix will give some clues as to great ways to burn off energy together.
  • Nutrition: Knowing that a now-tiny puppy has large breeds in its ancestry doesn’t only help owners prepare responsibly for the time when they will have a large pet in the home - it means that they should look into size-specific nutrition meant to sustain such rapid growth.
  • Behaviour: Dogs have been bred for specific purposes over hundreds of years, which means that your Russell Terrier mix won’t hesitate to chase a small animal and your Cocker Spaniel loves nothing more than a good cuddle together.

Understanding a pet’s DNA means that owners can be prepared to love and take care of them through every stage of their life -- but what about how they show us love?


Humans have ‘love languages’, but do dogs?

Our canine companions do, in fact, have their own ways of showing us love - or ‘love languages’. These include wagging their tails and smiling, licking (from all dogs’ distant wolf ancestry), following us around, and sitting or leaning on us.

A dog’s ancestry can have a significant impact on these expressions of affection. No matter your dog’s genetic mix, each breed has been developed over time to enhance specific traits - both physical and behavioral. That means a dog with Sporting breed ancestry like a Golden Retriever, bred to work with hunters, shows love by reading the needs of their owner and doing what they can to keep them happy. A dog bred to guard property, like an Akita or Bullmastiff, will be content to be close to their families, showing affection by keeping a watchful eye on their loved ones. 

 

No matter what their DNA says, dogs are lifelong companions 

Our relationships with our pets can benefit us in so many ways: pets can help reduce anxiety, loneliness, or stress. If you want to bring a new pet into your life, you will need to make sure you’re prepared to care for them long-term. This means also having the energy, time and financial resources for your pet - whether it’s exercise, play, proper care for their weight, dental health and nutrition, grooming or trips to the veterinarian. 

If you just got a cat or a dog, visit www.abetterworldforpets.com to get started on your new pet ownership journey.