Pet DNA Testing | What to Know

Bivvy

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May 18, 2022

DNA testing in general (for humans, that is) is all the rage these days, now that companies like 23 & Me have made it so convenient with at-home, send-in testing. They can teach us things about our heritage, connect us with yet-undiscovered relatives, and sometimes even reveal health-related predispositions in our DNA.

And now the concept of DNA testing’s popularity has spread to the four-leggeds! There are at least a handful of companies these days that offer saliva-collection kits for dogs and cats, that you then send in for analysis, and wait for the results to conveniently sail into your email inbox. How do you do it, how much does it cost, what are various companies’ pros and cons, and are they credible? Curious? Read on!

How Do You Do It?

Step one: purchase a kit online, in a pet store, or through your vet. Just like when we summon forth a little saliva to fill that 23 & Me test tube, to send in a pet DNA sample is usually just a matter of obtaining a saliva sample via a swab of the inside of your pet’s mouth and sending it in.

That’s the perk—these pet DNA kits are convenient and can be done from home. When you send the saliva sample in, it’s usually just a matter of waiting three to six weeks to receive the results by mail, or often email. You no longer need to go to the vet or a lab and pay thousands for extensive testing if you’re curious about what breed your pet is (or if they’re a mixed breed, what percentages of what different breeds they are) and perhaps learn more about their background or want to be aware of potential genetic issues on the horizon and be informed on how to care for your pet.

How Much Does Pet DNA Testing Cost?

It varies. The most popular companies’ kits will cost you anywhere from $66 to $300. Here’s an overview of cost, as well as the pros and cons of each.

 

Check out this site for a more extensive comparison of some of the different pet DNA testing kit companies, and their pros and cons.

Is Pet DNA Testing Credible?

We’re still in the early days of pet DNA testing. And the answer to the question of whether the results we receive after sending in a swab of our pet’s saliva are reliable or truly helpful seems to be: yes, but consult your veterinarian.

One critique is that pet DNA testing companies rely on their own labs to decipher your pet’s DNA. There’s not a third party involved, so there’s technically no way to prove the results are accurate. One article even says that these results “should be taken lightly and aren’t fully accepted in the veterinary world.”

Most say that pet DNA kit profiles give good information about young pets, that may predict their expected size, temperament, health, energy levels, and trainability. The results can also come in handy for odd things like if you’re moving into an apartment and the landlord needs proof of your dog’s breed if they have restrictions. Or if you plan to breed, you can screen for diseases that could be passed on.

However, the consensus seems to be that pet DNA kits provide a lot of information but aren’t 100% accurate.

A Word of Caution

Different breeds are predisposed to different health issues, so as we’ve said, a pet DNA kit may be helpful in alerting you of what might possibly be on the horizon health-wise. But if your pet tests positive for one genetic marker, they won’t acquire the associated disease, per se. Don’t panic, try to draw conclusions from the results yourself, or consult Dr. Google if you see anything concerning. Discuss the results with your vet. And it’s not a bad idea to ask your vet which DNA test kit they recommend in the first place.

Pet ownership has gone up a lot in the last couple of years, as has the interest in we humans to learn more about our DNA and all that it can reveal about us. Combine the two, and you get the hot new thing on the market—pet DNA testing.

According to a survey, 56% of people say curiosity is the primary reason they test their pet’s DNA, followed by a desire to better understand possible health outcomes. These tests can satisfy your curiosity on matters like which breeds make up your mixed breed’s genes, and food sensitivities they may have. They can also give actionable insights for caring for your specific pet, and help you avoid costly and dangerous complications down the road.

Speaking of, dog insurance and cat insurance are good to have on hand in the event of any medical episode your pet's whole life through, no matter what the breed. Check out Bivvy reviews here and sign your unique pet with their unique DNA up for affordable pet insurance today!

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