Have you ever thought that not only people can have Down syndrome? People with this syndrome are usually very caring and sensitive. They show incredible talents when it comes to art or music. So, the question is - are animals prone to this genetic disease?
The specimens that look like animals with down syndrome are surprising too! They jump happily, run and are very kind to people! They look so cute that you immediately smile when you see their photos.
Have you ever come across what looks like animals with down syndrome?
What Is Down Syndrome?
In order to adequately clarify this issue, it is first essential to know what Down syndrome is and what mechanisms make it up in humans.
Genetic information about humans is organized in chromosomes. Chromosomes are structures formed of DNA and proteins with a very high level of organization, which contain our genetic sequence and therefore largely determine the nature of our organism.
In general, a human has 23 pairs of chromosomes. However, those with Down syndrome have an additional copy of chromosome 21. Instead of having a couple, they have three. Although the exact causes of this excess chromosome are not known, it is suspected to be related to the mother's age at the time of delivery. It is known in genetics as "trisomy 21".
This genetic change is responsible for the characteristic physical traits we observe in people with Down syndrome, accompanied by a certain degree of cognitive disability and growth and muscle tissue changes.
Now that you have an idea of how this condition appears in humans, let us see if there are cases of animals with down syndrome.
Are There Animals With Down Syndrome?
We need to know that Down syndrome is a solely human disorder since the chromosomal organization of human beings is different from that of animals.
However, it is evident that animals also have certain genetic information with a specific sequence. In fact, gorillas represent DNA equal to human DNA in a percentage of 97-98%.
Because animals have genetic sequences arranged in chromosomes as well (chromosome pairs depend on each species), they can suffer trisomies of some chromosomes, which can translate into cognitive and physiological difficulties and anatomical changes that give a characteristic condition.
This happens, for example, in laboratory mice that have trisomy on chromosome 16.
Still, in the end, to conclude this question, we must keep the following statement: animals can undergo genetic changes and trisomies on a chromosome, but NOT Down syndrome, which is human change and caused by a trisomy on chromosome 21.
So, when we talk about animals with down syndrome, we typically think of animals with a particular genetic anomaly that is typical for its species and is not related to Down's syndrome.
In the end, we must say that the condition of animals with some genetic deformity is not that examined as in humans, and there is little research available on this topic. However, we know that creatures that look like animals with down syndrome, especially pets, are insanely cute, funny, and adorable!
Can Pets Have Down Syndrome?
Pets are unique and fascinating creatures. They are often entirely different compared to other animals, including their radiance, pride, and magnificence. Cats and dogs, in particular, can be brilliant.
Their appearance is clearly defined. Although there are many types, they all have almost the same appearance within the breed. The size, color, and length of the hair may vary, and their eyes and ears, but they all have a somewhat consistent appearance.
But there are rare pets that do not possess the same appearance as all other animals of their species possess. Also, they do not behave the way a normal pet should behave. This is when their owner, in most cases, starts thinking that their pet is one of the animals with down syndrome.
Some owners call this behavior and appearance Down syndrome, but can pets have it at all?
As already mentioned, in humans, Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that results from an excess of one chromosome or part of a chromosome in the nucleus of every cell in the body.
Since cats have 38 chromosomes, which means they have 19 chromosome pairs, and a dog has 78 chromosomes (39 pairs), they cannot suffer from trisomy 21.
So, the question is could pets have Down syndrome? Technically speaking, they cannot have Down syndrome in the same form as humans. We may think that pets have the same physical and psychological characteristics of Down syndrome, but it is not the same as humans.
Pets that resemble animals with down syndrome, as their different genetic composition, have a unique deformity different from that of humans with this syndrome. Although we call these conditions animals with down syndrome, they have their specific name, background, and manifestation.
Pets that have a specific atypical syndrome have wide and round eyes compared to healthy pets whose eyes are closer in position and slightly curved.
Instead of long and pointed ears, cats have small, and we can say stunted ears, and instead of elongated and pointed muzzles, they feature a snout that resembles a button. Their face shape also stands out from the face shape of a healthy cat.
Suspicious features in dogs include a nose that is always warm and dry, unusual skin patches, frequent hair loss, deformed legs or hips, and unusual facial features, including a wide nose and tongue.
In terms of character, these pets are pretty clumsy and insecure. They have poor coordination and can constantly collide with things and fall. They also sit and meow or bark differently.
Although they are different from other pets, that does not prevent them from enjoying their daily activities and being good companions.
Pets With Special Needs: Yes Or No?
Apart from adopting a potential pet, which is a significant moral issue for animal lovers, another topic arises. In the case of a pet with special needs, what is essential to know, and how is it different from having an ordinary pet?
The selfless heart of these animals will make you forget all their shortcomings, but sometimes it cannot be denied that they exist. When we talk about pets with special needs, we mean pets, primarily cats and dogs, because they are the most common, which have some kind of mental/neurological deficiency that can sometimes manifest physically.
These deficiencies can be minor or significant - to the extent that they interfere with the normal functioning of the pet and its performance of the most critical physiological needs. They can also be congenital or acquired. We look at these animals as heroes, and their unique needs are actually their superpowers.
Depending on the pet's condition with special needs that we mix up with animals with down syndrome, they may need some accessories or aids, such as diapers or prostheses.
Special Responsibilities For Special Animals With Down Syndrome
Once you get used to the special needs, or as we said earlier - superpowers, you will quickly get into the routine. When you take care of pets that look like animals with down syndrome, you are actually taking on a significant role in their life. They will rely on you in many situations, and often they are not as independent as other pets.
Taking care of such a pet implies great emotional responsibility, and that is something that should be kept in mind if you are planning to adopt animals with down syndrome. If the animal is already in your possession, for example, if you inherited it, got it, and if it is the cub of your current pet, you are expected to take care of it until the end and not to leave it.
But in return for everything they ask for, they selflessly give both attention and love, and you will always be their family.
Adopting or keeping a pet with a disorder is a humane and beautiful gesture and a great responsibility. If you consider adopting a pet like this, do so only if you have enough patience, optimism, and money to make all the commitments about this animal.
So, next time you search for animals with down syndrome, you will know that this is not the case of them having the same disability as humans, but their own genetic disorder. In any case, that search will lead to some adorable pictures!