Young couple sitting on the sofa with their white poodle and brown cat

Genetics

Biomarkers

Unlocking the pet genome

At Mars Petcare, we are advancing science to help pets stay healthy for as long as possible. Individualised pet health care is key to achieving this, and understanding the genetic building blocks of breeds, as well as gene mutations evolving over time, is helping scientists pave the way for truly individualised clinical treatment for every unique pet. 


Why genetic screening matters


For many years, research was conducted like this: Notice a disease in Irish Wolfhounds; study that disease in Irish Wolfhounds and identify an Irish Wolfhound-specific genetic marker. But what if the disease is also found in Airedale Terriers?

Without widespread genetic testing of pets, veterinarians often have to piece together clues and make assumptions around breed ancestry that might lead them down a dead-end path when treating a particular condition. 

Now, access to the genetic data of millions of cats and dogs through Wisdom Panel™ DNA testing is transforming how experts across Mars Petcare approach genetic research in veterinary care — with powerful results. 

Mars Petcare researchers are identifying blood clotting mutations that increase bleeding after surgery, genetic risk factors for conditions associated with testicular cancer, as well as genetic sensitivities to medication that can have a vital impact on care decisions made by veterinarians and pet owners alike. They are learning about ancient genetic mutations that impact more pets, and newer mutations relevant in select breeds. Each test brings us closer to the next scientific breakthrough in pet health, helping improve the lives of pets everywhere for generations to come. 


The largest-ever genetic screening study of cats and dogs 


In the largest-ever single study of dogs to date, Wisdom Panel scientists looked at over 1M dog DNA samples and combined the results with clinical veterinary records to better understand the prevalence and distribution of 250 disease-causing variants in dogs, no matter their breed or ancestry. They found that disease mutations are common in all dogs, and that both mixed breed and purebred dogs share many health issues.
 
Teaming up with the University of Helsinki, Wisdom Panel scientists also screened the DNA of 11,000 cats and found 13 disease-associated gene variants in 47 breeds in which these variants had not previously been found. 

This work emphasises the importance of healthy breeding, genetic diversity, and how genetic testing can benefit preventive pet health. 
 
Learn more about how genetics can help us better understand pets’ needs.