If you’ve ever been curious about what’s behind your dog’s mischievous antics or your cat’s unique coat, a DNA test may be fun and informative. These tests can also reveal potential health conditions, which could help you protect your pet’s health.
Here’s what you should know about DNA testing for pets, including what you might be able to learn about your dog or cat.
What can pet DNA test results tell owners?
A DNA testing kit provides specific details about your pet’s history. DNA testing may give you insight into:
Your pet’s behaviour and temperament
How big or small they might be
Health risks they may face in the future
Details on their physical traits
For instance, knowing your dog’s breed(s) could give you an idea of its size when fully grown. Pet parents can also adapt to their dog’s potential behaviour and energy levels.
Some breeds are predisposed to certain health conditions. Learning about these potential conditions may help you keep your pet healthy.
As an example, pet parents of dog breeds that tend to develop hip dysplasia can adjust their pet’s lifestyle to promote hip health. There are also tests that look for different genetic diseases that your veterinarian can keep in mind.
Specific cat breeds aren’t as common compared to dogs. This is why many cat DNA tests focus more on potential health risks and genetic history, rather than specific breeds and behaviour. Some tests can determine physical traits such as coat type, fur length, and colour.
How accurate are pet DNA tests?
In general, several veterinarians and scientists are sceptical of direct-to-consumer DNA tests. However, many pet parents who tested their pets were pleased with the results.
Unlike human DNA testing, pet DNA testing isn't regulated. This means that test accuracy isn’t independently determined. That’s not to say that cat and dog DNA tests are entirely inaccurate. We just don’t have enough data yet. But if a company has a large database of tested pet DNA, the results they provide could have a higher chance of accuracy.
When it comes to potential health risks, experts urge caution in interpreting the results. A dog or cat might test positive for certain health risks. But having certain genes or risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean they will develop the disease or condition.
How do at-home pet DNA tests work?
A pet DNA test involves an in-home testing kit with simple instructions. Pet parents take a swab of the animal’s cheek with the provided brush and send it in for genetic analysis. DNA kits usually come with return packaging for your pet’s swab sample