Knowing your pet’s breed can make a big difference in their life and yours. From determining the best care plan to knowing if they may be predisposed to certain health problems or even getting to know your pet on a deeper level, knowing your pet’s breed can be extremely beneficial. But for most pet owners, their pet’s breed remains a mystery, especially if the pet was adopted from a shelter or rescue organization. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Pet DNA tests are an easy way to determine your pet’s breed, and they’re readily available in today’s market. Read on to find out more about pet DNA tests, how they work, and determine if they’re right for you and your pet.
About Pet DNA Tests
Pet DNA tests are a simple and straightforward way to determine information about your pet’s breed, screen for genetic diseases or conditions, identify physical traits such as a tendency to meow or bark a lot, or detect their blood type. All you need is a small sample of your pet’s DNA. Once you have your pet’s DNA sample, simply send it off to the company where it’s sequenced by a team of scientists. Once complete, the company will send you a report of the results. These can be eye-opening, giving pet owners a better understanding of their furry friend.
How Do Pet DNA Tests Work?
Depending on what your pet DNA test is looking for, whether it be breed information, health details or something else, the test is designed to look for that specific body of information by identifying markers in your pet’s DNA.
Determining Breed: If the test is designed to determine breed, it compares markers in your pet’s DNA to a database of breeds and determines what percentage of those breeds matches your pet. Whether your cat is 98% Turkish Angora and 2% Persian, or 55% domestic short hair and 45% Siamese, these tests will know.
Health: These pet DNA tests provide pet owners and veterinarians with an analysis of the pet’s health risk for a range of diseases and conditions based on the pet’s genetics, breed, age, weight and gender. For example, a health DNA test can provide a report of ideal weight by gender and breed, and it can include details on predisposition for conditions like anxiety, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.
How Accurate Are Pet DNA Tests?
Just as there are different kinds of pet DNA tests, there are different ways of testing. Each one has its own degree of accuracy, but they are all intended to provide a high percentage of certainty.
Microarray vs. Single Mutation Tests: There are two different types of DNA testing available, including microarray and single mutation tests. Microarray tests are the most current and state-of-the-art form of testing for DNA, and it can look for multiple genetic markers at once across an entire genome, making this the most accurate type of test. Older technologies like single mutation tests are still in use, but are limited in their reporting ability because they can only test DNA from a single genomic region. Both testing types can be used for cat DNA tests and dog DNA tests.
Determining Genetic Health Risks: DNA tests that are aimed at determining genetic health risks can have an accuracy range equal to or greater than between 90% and 99%. For example, the Embark dog DNA test can search across 230,000 markers and can look for more than 210 genetic health risks, 35 traits, and check for genetic diversity. Each condition is tested with at least three probes, but it can be as great as eight probes, which gives this test its high percentage of accuracy at equal to or greater than 99%.
Determining Breed: Dog and cat breeding has created haplotypes, or DNA sequence patterns, for our pets. When determining a pet’s breed, scientists map the haplotype and match it to a database. Some testing companies look through as many as 350 markers and report on the percentage of each breed in your pet’s DNA.
While there can be some minor inaccuracies, pet DNA tests are one of the best ways to determine specifics about their breed as well as traits and possible predispositions to certain health issues.
Pros and Cons of Pet DNA Tests
Pet DNA tests have several pros and cons. Let’s take a look.
Pros: As we’ve learned, pet DNA tests have several pros.
They’re the perfect way to learn about your pet’s ancestry and family tree.
They provide insight into your pet’s behaviors, check for blood type and look for genetic diseases or conditions your pet may be more prone to experiencing.
They are highly accessible; they can be ordered online and performed in the comfort of your home.
Cons: There are also some cons to pet DNA tests, including pet participation needs and cost of the tests.
While some tests require a swab of the inside of their mouth that can be done in a few seconds, others require at least a 30-second mouth swab. This can be difficult to achieve if you have a feisty or uncooperative pet. Some pet owners and veterinarians get around this by mildly sedating the pet or by offering a calm environment to gather the sample.
Cost can also be a deterrent, and it can depend on the kind of test, where it’s purchased, and whether it’s for a cat or a dog.
How Much Does a Pet DNA Test Cost?
Currently, cat DNA tests can range from about $45 to $130 while dog DNA tests can range from about $60 to $200. Tests can be purchased through online retailers like Chewy or Amazon, though they can also be purchased directly from your veterinarian or through the manufacturer.
Popular pet DNA tests include Basepaws (cats only), Embark (dogs only), and Orivet (both cats and dogs).
Pet DNA tests are a great way to learn more about your pet, their health risks, and their ancestry. They’re also a fun way to see what traits your pet may have inherited from their ancestors. While there are some cons to pet DNA tests, like the amount of pet participation that may be needed as well as the cost of the tests, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. If you’re interested in pet DNA testing, talk to your veterinarian or look online for a reputable pet DNA testing company. And if you have questions, our pet advocates at Florida Animal Friend are always happy to help!
Resources for Pet DNA Tests