Though any dog breed can damage their cruciate ligament, researchers in the Comparative Genetics and Orthopedic Research Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that genetics play an important role in the degeneration of the ligament, which increases the risk of injury. Using a screening test—the first of its kind in companion animals–that requires only a cheek swab or a small blood sample, researchers can determine a canine’s genetic risk of developing a cruciate ligament rupture.
Right now, the test is only available for Labrador retrievers, since that breed has a high risk of developing the disease. Of the retrievers tested, researchers found that about 62% of the risk is genetic and about 38% is environmental, with the test being 98% accurate. The research team is currently working on expanding the testing to include other breeds with a high risk of cruciate rupture, including rottweilers and Newfoundlands.
Though this research highlights the link between genes and a predisposition to injuries, it’s always a good idea to use some form of preventative care for your canine. Supplements with glucosamine, perna mussel or chondroitin sulfate, as well as curcumin for pain, has been shown to keep canines happy and healthy.