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Hereditary and Congenital Disorders in Dogs and Cats

illustration of a pug

Genetic disorders in dogs and cats are conditions and diseases that are passed to puppies and kittens from their parents. Some hereditary conditions in dogs are prevalent in certain breeds more than others, because dogs are often bred for certain behavioral characteristics, such as the family-friendly disposition of the retriever breeds.

However, when dogs and cats are continuously bred for desirable physical and behavioral characteristics, some undesirable traits in the bloodline are also more likely to appear. Therefore, research into purebred pets should include possible genetic disorders so any conditions that are discovered in a new pet can be treated as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of congenital diseases in dogs and genetic disorders in cats is equally important when a purebred pet is adopted from an animal shelter or rescue group.

Examples of congenital conditions in dogs and cats
Heart anomalies: Hereditary heart problems can occur in any pet of any size. Cardiology-related animal diseases include dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and degenerative valvular disease.
Unlike arthritis or hip dysplasia, a heart-related problem — such as an arrhythmia or a heart murmur — isn’t something that a typical pet owner would notice. That’s why it is important to take pets to their veterinarians for regular checkups that include monitoring cardiac health.

Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic condition that occurs when a pet’s ball joints do not fit well into their corresponding sockets. Hip dysplasia affects larger-breed dogs, such as German shepherds, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers. If a dog has hip dysplasia, their normal walking and running movements can be impaired, resulting in pain. Over time, the joints can fill with arthritis, preventing mobility even further.
If your dog walks stiffly, seems to have an unusual gait, has difficulty moving, or displays other symptoms of arthritis — such as limping, walking slowly, difficulty standing or vocalizing upon lying down — see your veterinarian regarding hip dysplasia and any resulting arthritis.

Patella luxation: A luxated patella — also known as a kneecap that is out of place — can occur in dogs of any size. However, patella luxation occurs more often in toy and small-breed dogs, such as miniature and toy poodles, Maltese, and Yorkshire terriers.
Patella luxation is especially prevalent in dogs that tend to walk bow-legged. In cases of a luxated patella, the kneecap might be only slightly out of place, or it might become completely dislocated. Watch your dog for signs of leg pain, such as whimpering, limping, or favoring one leg over another.

Polycystic kidney disease: Cats tend to suffer from renal disease and other kidney-related ailments more than dogs. Cases of polycystic kidney disease are especially prevalent in Persian and Himalayan cat breeds.
Cats with polycystic kidney disease have fluid-filled cysts in their kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure. Watch for symptoms that include increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, loss of appetite, listlessness, and weight loss.

Progressive retinal atrophy: Blindness caused by progressive retinal atrophy tends to occur more often in Abyssinian, Ocicat, and Somali cat breeds. The resulting blindness is permanent and not treatable. That said, cats that are blind can live long, happy lives when kept safely inside their homes.
These are just a few examples of hereditary conditions that can affect pets. If your pet is purebred, see your pet’s veterinarian early to diagnose common congenital defects in cats and dogs. It’s also recommended that you see a veterinarian early and regularly when adopting a pet from an animal shelter, humane society, or rescue group to screen for any hereditary diseases in cats or dogs.

Although genetic diseases seen in mixed-breed cats and dogs occur more randomly than in purebred pets, it’s likely that the shelter staff and rescue volunteers didn’t know much about the rescued pet’s bloodline.

Pet insurance for genetic disorders
Figo Pet Insurance covers the expenses associated with your pet’s health conditions that are a result of heredity — beginning with your pet’s first visit to the veterinarian for diagnosis, and their ongoing visits to specialists to monitor and treat congenital conditions.

We also offer plans that can be customized to the unique needs of your purebred cat and purebred dog. You can even visit any licensed veterinary specialist, worldwide, to treat your pet’s hereditary conditions.

As a perk for pet lovers, Figo’s Pet Cloud mobile app can send you reminders for vet examinations to help your pet stay healthy. The app also features a 24/7 live Virtual Vet, in case of questions or emergencies.

And don’t forget, Figo Powerups are a great way to customize your coverage, particularly if your pet suffers from a hereditary disorder and requires increase vet care. You can upgrade your plan to include white glove-level service, as well as coverage for all those vital exams and treatments to ensure your pet’s continued happiness and health.

Choose Figo Pet Insurance for your best friend and start protecting your pet’s health today.

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No one is permitted to sell, solicit or negotiate an insurance policy without a producer license in the state in which the plan is sold, and all prospects should be directed to Figo Pet Insurance. The information contained in this website is for illustrative purposes only and coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions (including pre-existing conditions), and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Coverage underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (IAIC), a Delaware Insurance Company, 11333 North Scottsdale Road Suite 160 Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Live Vet and the Figo Pet Cloud are separate non-insurance services unaffiliated with IAIC. Figo Pet Insurance's California license number is 0K02763.

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