Dog DNA Testing: Is It Worth It?
Much like human DNA testing, genetic tests for dogs have skyrocketed in “pup”ularity, with over 1 million dogs tested in just over a decade. They’re carried out the same way, with a buccal swab of your canine’s mouth that’s sent off to a lab to be evaluated.
Many dog owners are choosing to have the test done for one of two reasons: to discover what breeds encapsulate their pet’s makeup and to determine what health issues if any, they need to be watchful for. However, while the intentions may be good, there are always two sides to every debate.
Completing the Puzzle
Pet owners who have a mixed breed may be curious as to what their pet is made up of, so they choose to use mainstream DNA tests from companies such as Embark and Wisdom Health. Some use them to prove that a dog is a purebred, while others use them to enhance care. If you know what illnesses and conditions a dog is predisposed to, you can start preventative treatment in some instances.
Some DNA companies also have veterinarians that are assigned to help decipher the results, eliminating excess worry. But is this enough?
It’s Not All Good, Though
One of the major concerns, as published by AP News, is the fact that dog owners may not be interpreting these DNA test results properly. Like with human DNA tests, there’s not only a margin for error, but testing positive as a carrier doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog will develop a specific disease or disorder.
Pet owners should take the time to speak with their veterinarians about the results and what they ultimately mean. However, some are taking the results and making rash decisions such as having their dogs put to sleep due to positive biomarkers.
This is sparking the other side of the debate, that dog DNA tests shouldn’t be marketed or relied upon. Genetic testing should be left to the professionals who are better equipped to evaluate the results and help explain the risks to the owner.
Both sides present good points for their cases, but it’s truly one of those things that you have to weigh the pros and cons of.
Owners of dogs who do test positive for specific disorders should do research into the matter and consult with their veterinarian to determine the best course of action. In some cases, this means taking no action at all, other than being prepared for the possibility that it may occur in the future.