When puppies are about 4 weeks old, they start weaning off their mother’s milk and progress to solid foods. However, some dogs are born with a genetic condition that enlarges the esophagus and impedes their ability to swallow. These pups regurgitate every time they try to eat, and in severe cases, this disorder can cause fatal complications.
Now, scientists are one step closer to understanding the genetic predispositions behind the condition, called congenital idiopathic megaesophagus (CIM). New research used a genome-wide association study to identify a repeating DNA sequence on canine chromosome 12 that shows a strong connection to the presence of CIM in German Shepherd dogs, due to its role in gastrointestinal motility and appetite.