Pet DNA Testing: The Inside Scoop
DNA testing for humans is nothing new. We regularly rely on the results of these types of tests to determine paternity, figure out our ancestry, and even check for the probability of developing certain inherited diseases. It only makes sense that, given the ease and relative low cost of genetic testing technology, that pet DNA testing would become a booming industry.
How Pet DNA Testing Works
Pet DNA testing made its debut in 2007, and it’s become increasingly popular in recent years due to its wide availability and ease of use. The basic do-it-yourself DNA test kit comes with the items needed to ready a sample for testing. Here’s how this test works:
- Swab the inside of your pet’s cheek with the brush provided
- Prepare the sample following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Mail the sample back to the company using the provided packaging
Once the sample arrives back at the lab, the DNA is extracted and analyzed. Your pet’s DNA is compared to that of other dogs in the company’s database. The accuracy of an individual company’s test kit depends on:
- Number of genetic markers (areas where your dog’s DNA differs from others in the breed database)
- Number of breeds included in the selection panel
- Sophistication of the algorithms used to generate the results
As a general rule, the more breeds included in a company’s database, the more accurate, and expensive, the test will be.
The Pet DNA Test We Use
We provide DNA testing at our facility through the Royal Canine Genetic Health Analysis (RCGHA). Instead of a saliva swab, this test is done using a blood sample that we take from the pet. We prefer this method, as a blood sample captures more complete DNA, producing a higher degree of accuracy and reliability in the result. The RCGHA analysis also utilizes a very large database, and includes parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, providing a lot more information about the pet’s lineage.
The most commonly stated reasons our clients want a DNA test for their pet is, first, curiosity and, second, to predict potential health issues. So many pets are acquired from a shelter or rescue these days and it’s just natural to want to know what breeds might be in a mixed-breed pet. And, knowing more about potential health issues that could present problems, allows us to better help our clients manage their pet’s care over time.
Should You Test Your Pet’s DNA?
While it may seem like fun to find out the parentage that makes up your rescue pup, many owners wonder if the price tag (anywhere from $60-$200) is worth it. Yet, there are valid reasons to consider pet DNA testing:
- Establishing your pet’s lineage can allow your pet’s veterinary care team to be on the lookout for inherited health conditions associated with specific breeds.
- Knowing your puppy’s heritage can help you plan for certain eventualities, such as how big he or she might get, whether he or she will be high energy or not, and how protective he or she might be.
- For the fun of it! Trying to guess which breeds make up your mutt is a cherished pastime in many households, but wouldn’t it be even more fun to know your pet’s lineage with some certainty?
Taking the Plunge
Whether you want to be on the lookout for breed specific diseases, tailor your puppy’s training, or settle a bet with your spouse, pet DNA testing may be the way to go. Your friends at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center look forward to going over your pet’s DNA results with you and coming up with a wellness plan to meet his or her needs.