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    Pet DNA Tests

    YourDNA Guide to Pet DNA Tests

    Pet DNA tests are voluntary studies performed on a sample of fluid (usually blood or saliva) or hair sample collected by a loving dog owner or cat owner.

    The sample is professionally processed by a laboratory and analyzed for variations in specific genes, chromosomes, or proteins. The results are then compiled into a unique DNA profile for the animal, and compared against tens of thousands of different breed samples via an algorithm.

    The genetic variations analyzed in the results of these tests can provide clues to your pet’s overall well-being, their risk of developing certain health conditions, and even provide information on other expected physical factors like weight or appearance.

    Consider this your personal pet DNA guide to explaining how pet DNA tests can reveal useful information about your dog or cat’s ancestry and their predisposition for certain diseases.

    In this pet DNA guide, we’ll describe some of the best tests on the market, how they work, and what they’re most useful for. If you have additional questions about pet DNA tests, it may be a good idea to consult your pet’s veterinarian, as they sometimes recommend a specific company for the results.

    Which Diseases and Health Conditions Can Pet DNA Tests Reveal?

    Just as in humans, domestic animals inherit copies of genes from both of their parents.

    These genes may encode particular genetic traits that are passed down to the offspring and can lead to development of genetic diseases. Inherited traits from DNA can also affect how certain breeds react to specific treatments, which can mean that a veterinarian must adjust their care plan according to the animal’s ancestry.

    Common Inherited Diseases for Dogs

    The results of a dog DNA test can help dog owners understand the likelihood that their dog will develop a number of canine health conditions. It is now possible to screen your dog’s DNA to see which specific genes or genetic traits it may have inherited from its parents.

    However, even just basic breed composition information can give you a better idea what disorders may run in your dog’s bloodline, which can help you know which symptoms to look out for. The more purebred your dog, the more likely they are to inherit copies of genes that are associated with genetic diseases.

    Some of the most common genetic diseases for dogs include:

    • Hip Dysplasia- Common in several breeds, including German Shepherds and certain Poodles, this condition can affect the hip joints of dogs ultimately causing the affected dog to lose mobility.
    • Degenerative Myelopathy- Common in many breeds, including Corgis, this condition affects the nervous system and spinal cord ultimately causing paralysis.
    • Epilepsy- Common in a variety of breeds, including Daschunds, this condition affects the brain and can cause the dog to spasm and lose control of its body.

    Common Inherited Diseases for Cats

    The results of a genetic test for cats can provide the cat owner with valuable information about what traits their cat has inherited from an ancestor, and what health problems they may be more likely to experience in the future.

    Because purebred cats are more likely to inherit multiple copies of genes that are similar, they are also more likely to inherit any genetic disease associated with those traits.

    While DNA testing for mixed-breed cats still has a long way to go, there is still a lot to be gleaned from the results of a feline DNA test regarding their predisposition to some of the following common inherited diseases for cats:

    • Polycystic Kidney Disease- This condition causes kidney failure in cats, but its associated mutation is most common in Persian-type cats.
    • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease- This diagnosis can include a few different conditions that affect the bladder and urethra. It is considered one of the most common inherited disorders in felines, but has been found to be more prevalent in cats with a certain genetic trait.
    • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy- This is a kind of heart disease that occurs in many cats, but its mutation is most common in Maine Coons and Ragdolls.

    How Accurate Are DNA Tests for Pets?

    It’s important to keep in mind that Pet DNA tests are still a relatively new concept.

    The canine genome was first successfully sequenced in 2004, and the first feline genome was sequenced a few years later in 2007. Mail-in saliva DNA tests for dogs have only been on the commercial market since 2007, and similar tests for cats have only become available commercially in the last few years.

    This is all to say that the field of pet genetics is all relatively new — and the variety of gene variations, breeds, and other factors is so wide that many veterinarians, and even pet geneticists, are still struggling to catch up. For example, if your pet tests positive for a genetic mutation associated with a particular illness, it’s important not to make any immediate decisions about their care because it is not a certainty that they will develop the condition.

    There is still much to be explored and understood about the canine and feline genomes, and even pet geneticists caution that there are not sufficient studies and research efforts in place to base pet health decisions on these tests alone.

    Pet DNA tests can vary greatly in accuracy, usually according to the number of genetic markers used when testing the sample, the number of samples or breed profiles that a particular company has to reference/compare your pet’s sample to, the accuracy with which the sample was collected, and the amount of validity testing performed by the test company.

    The more genetic markers used to test the DNA sample, and the more profiles the company has in their database, the more accurate your test is likely to be. If you are taking the DNA sample yourself using an at-home kit, it’s very important to follow all instructions to avoid contamination of the sample and to ensure that the DNA test results are as accurate as possible.

    Don’t forget to read about the kinds of validity testing that each company performs on their own products in order to get a sense of each test’s reliability.

    Do Pet DNA Tests Work?

    The short answer is yes, most pet DNA tests can provide you with a better idea of the genetic makeup and ancestry of your particular animals. Your motives for pursuing the test are also important to consider.

    Are you more interested in getting a better idea of the breed of your animal, or are you more concerned with what the breed or genetic markers have to say about the dog’s future health? When you consider what you want from your results, it will ultimately become easier to find a test that fits your needs.

    As with many other commercial products, there are a wide range of genetic tests available that vary greatly in price and accuracy. If you’re looking for the most accurate test on the market, it’s important to do your research before taking the plunge.

    It never hurts to speak with your veterinarian or with the pet care professional that will assist you in analyzing the results.

    Different Brands of DNA Tests for Dogs and Cats

    There are many different brands offering cat and dog DNA tests, all providing varying levels of accuracy and results.

    Dog DNA testing is currently a bit more advanced than cat DNA testing, as tests for dogs have been available commercially for longer and are more widely researched.

    Some Leading Pet DNA Test Brands

    At-home human DNA testing kits from companies like 23andMe have made genetic testing accessible for more people across the country.

    Many companies are now seeking to do the same for the pet DNA testing market. Below are some of the biggest pet DNA test brands currently available.

    Wisdom Panel

    Wisdom Panel has been studying the canine genome since 2005. This popular dog DNA test brand also provides feline DNA tests through its network of partners in pet DNA testing. They continue their commitment to studying pet genomes, which they hope will ultimately lead to a better understanding of genetic diseases in these populations.

    HomeDNA

    HomeDNA has been providing DNA testing services since 1995. Today, they provide a wide variety of human DNA testing as well as dog and cat DNA kits. They have multiple accreditations, and provide accuracy testing for quality control on all of their products.

    Find My Pet DNA

    Find My Pet DNA provides accessible DNA testing kits for dogs online. They aim to help consumers better understand the results of their dog’s tests, and provide the information pet owners need to make informed decisions about their health.

    DNA Tests for Dogs

    Your dog is as unique and special as you are. These complexities can also be reflected in their personalities, ancestry, and health conditions.

    Since the human ancestry DNA testing market (which includes tests like Ancestry and 23andme) has exploded, people are increasingly interested in learning more about the background of their closest fur-covered companions. So, what are some of the most common reasons for DNA testing your dog?

    • To find out what breed or mix of breeds found in your dog’s ancestry. This information can provide important information about your dog’s behavior, breed-specific training advice, and a better idea of what inherited genetic diseases your dog may be at risk for. Some people also use this information to get around breed-specific restrictions, housing policies, and ordinances.
    • To screen your dog for potential inherited genetic diseases. This information can help you to make decisions about your dog’s future healthcare, and to learn which symptoms to be vigilant for. Breeders often use this information to decide which dogs to use as parents for future litters.
    • To learn more about your dog. Some people pursue these tests to learn more about their dog and where they came from. This information can help them to feel more bonded with their furry best friend.

    Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a DNA test for your dog, you likely have a million other important questions about the tests available, how much they cost, how they compare, and how to get one. Keep reading for more information about dog DNA testing and the available dog DNA test brands.

    How Much Does a Dog DNA Test Cost?

    Like home ancestry DNA kits for humans, the price of home DNA test kits for dogs is intended to be accessible.

    The cost of a home pet DNA test kit can range from less than $50 to over $200, depending on the type of test performed and the testing company chosen.

    Keep in mind that these are the prices for the at-home testing kits. Prices for blood DNA tests or other DNA tests performed in conjunction with your veterinarian may vary in price.

    You should consult your veterinarian for more information on their rates for consultations and testing.

    Depending on the results, an at-home canine DNA test may prompt you to seek more information from your veterinarian. In this case, you should consult with your veterinarian about the necessity of, and the prices for, further DNA testing.

    They will be able to guide you through the additional testing options available for your pet. Additional tests may be more comprehensive, and therefore may be more expensive than the at-home test kits.

    If you have questions about whether dog DNA testing is included in your pet insurance policy, contact your insurance provider for the exact details of your plan.

    Dog DNA Testing Kit

    In recent years, commercial pet DNA testing kits that are ordered online, with the pet’s owner taking the DNA sample themselves and sending it back themselves, have increased in popularity. More and more people are researching, purchasing, and even gifting these kits. Most kits can be ordered online or purchased in a local store (like Petsmart).

    Once the kit arrives at your home, you simply follow the instructions for taking the cheek swab sample and send it back to the testing company for processing. The return postage may or may not be included, so it’s important to read all information about the testing kit before you buy, so as to avoid any surprises once it arrives.

    Best Dog DNA Tests

    The best dog DNA test for you will vary according to what you’re looking for. Many of the tests on the market can vary greatly in what is included, the quality of the sample equipment, the quality of the results, the readability of the results, how many (if any) inherited diseases are tested for, whether return postage is included, and a variety of other factors.

    If you are interested in knowing more about canine DNA blood tests, consult your veterinarian. He or she will also assist you in collecting the blood sample and sending it off to the lab for analysis.

    The Canine Genetic Analysis™ Test is a popular dog DNA test requiring a blood sample that can be performed at Banfield Petsmart clinics nationwide.

    Below is a summary of some of the most popular home canine DNA test kits on the market today, along with their main features. For a detailed comparison of a few tests and test features available, please see this article from PC Magazine.

    Wisdom Panel

    -Tests available from $84.99-$149.99
    -Screening for up to 150 inherited genetic conditions available
    -Breed detection for up to 350+ breeds available
    -Approximately 2 to 3 week wait-time for results
    -Postage included
    -Additional information about the dog available (predicted weight, estimated genetic age, etc.)

    Embark

    -Available for $199.99
    -Screening for up to 160 inherited genetic conditions available
    -Breed detection for up to 250+ breeds available
    -Approximately 2 to 4 week wait-time for results
    -Postage included
    -Additional information about the dog available (predicted weight, estimated genetic age, etc.)
    -Canine geneticists available to answer questions from you and your veterinarian

    DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test

    -Available from $58.99-$188.99
    -Screening for up to 100 inherited genetic conditions available
    -Breed detection for up to 95+ breeds available
    -Approximately 4 week wait-time for results
    -Postage included

    HomeDNA

    -Available for $125
    -Breed detection for up to 220+ breeds available
    -Approximately 3 week wait-time for results
    -Postage included
    -Additional information about the dog available (predicted weight, estimated genetic age, etc.)

    Find My Pet

    -Available for $69.95
    -Approximately 3-4 week wait-time for results
    -Postage included

    How to Choose the Best Dog DNA Test for You

    The most important thing to consider when deciding on a canine DNA test is what you want from your results.

    It may be a good idea to make a list of what you’d like to learn from your pet’s results, how much you’re willing to spend, and other factors that are important you. You can then “rank” these requirements in order of importance and use this to decide on a test after conducting your research.

    Consult Your Vet

    Your veterinarian is the person best suited to advise you on which dog DNA test brand to choose. Listen closely to their recommendations, and ask whether they can help you to better interpret the results once you receive them.

    How to Conduct a DNA Test On a Dog

    DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, contains instructions for our genetic code and is responsible for determining many physical traits in our pets, like coat color and blood type.

    DNA is found in every single cell in the body, is inherited from each parent, and is passed onto offspring — making every dog unique.

    In order to conduct a DNA test on a dog, a sample of blood or saliva must first be collected. Each and every cell in your pet’s body contains the same DNA. This means that a sample for DNA testing can be taken from anywhere, like blood, skin cells, or saliva.

    Although DNA tests can be performed using a wide range of tissue as a sample, the most commonly used methods for collecting a sample from your animal include either collecting a blood sample or performing a cheek swab (because these are usually the most accurate, nearly pain-free, and the easiest to obtain). Once collected, the sample is processed to isolate the DNA, analyzed, and then the results are categorized using an algorithm.

    The results from a canine DNA test reveal specific genetic variants that are compared to other samples of specific breeds and profiles. The genetic variants that your pet has inherited from their mother and father provide insight into their identity, health, nutrition needs, and their risk of developing certain common health conditions, such as hip dysplasia or lymphoma.

    Blood Test

    Canine blood DNA tests are less common than cheek swabs because they require a trip to the veterinarian’s office or lab to collect a sample. The blood test analyzes DNA found in a sample of blood.

    This type of test is usually done in coordination with, and under the guidance of, your pet’s veterinarian. It is common in these cases that the veterinarian has a test provider/company of choice, and will send the sample on to the testing company for you.

    If this is the case, they are likely to also review the DNA test results with you to help you make sense of them, as well as plan for any additional testing or potential health issues to look out for.

    Cheek Swab

    The most common commercially available canine DNA tests are performed using cheek swabs. A cheek swab analyzes DNA from skin cells found on the inside of the dog’s cheek, and is collected by inserting a cotton swab inside your dog’s mouth and then moving it along the side of the cheeks.

    After receiving the canine DNA testing kit that you ordered online, you’ll register with the company online in order to receive the results. You will then perform the cheek swab on your dog, following your test’s specific instructions carefully.

    Most tests recommend that you wait a few hours after meals to swab the dog’s cheek in order to avoid contamination of their sample with food particles and excessive saliva. Some brands of tests will require you to wait until the sample swab is dry before packaging it appropriately and sending it back for testing.

    If you have any questions about the sampling process, it’s best to reach out to the testing provider as they will be able to answer any questions you have.

    Most results are available within a month of return, but testing times may vary according to the testing company and time of year. It is very important that you follow all instructions provided by the company in order to ensure that you receive your results.

    What Breed or Mix Is My Dog?

    The results of many DNA tests can can vary in their accuracy and presentation.

    Some companies provide a few “buckets” of breed groups and approximate percentages, while others can provide more accurate and exact classification of breeds. Some of the more advanced tests even send a “family tree” for your dog that generally describes their parents genetic makeup and even ancestors farther down the line.

    Additionally, many companies provide information about how closely related your domestic companion is to a wild wolf or coyote.

    Because these results can vary greatly, it’s important to do your homework when selecting the right test for you and your pet. Don’t be afraid to request samples of what the DNA test results might look like so that you know you know what you’ve paid for, as well as that you’re getting the answers you want and can interpret the results.

    DNA Tests for Cats

    Feline DNA tests are relatively new when compared to human and canine DNA tests. Less is known about the cat genome, inherited genetic diseases in felines, and other inherited feline traits because cats have been studied less.

    It’s more rare that someone inquires about the breed of a cat than a dog, and there are simply fewer cat breeds in existence (around 40, compared to around 400 dog breeds). Few pet DNA testing companies even offer breed testing for mixed cat breeds, as most of the tests on the market are for purebred cats.

    But, the more people participate in feline DNA testing, the more data researchers have to work with — and ultimately, the more we can learn about our feline friends. So if not for breed information, why else should you consider DNA testing your cat?

    Most people decide to test their cat in order to screen them for potential inherited genetic diseases. This knowledge can help an owner to plan and make decisions about their cat’s future healthcare, as well as to get an idea of which potential symptoms they should watch out for in the future.

    Breeders use this information to know which of their cats is suitable to continue breeding without passing on potentially dangerous inherited traits.

    Many people are just curious about their cats. They want to know more about them, what other kinds of wildcats they’re most related to, or why they exhibit the behaviors that they do.

    This kind of knowledge can lead to a more special bond and feeling of understanding between human and feline.

    Once you’ve decided to move forward with cat DNA testing, you will likely have more questions than ever. Read on for more information about feline DNA testing.

    How to Conduct a DNA Test on a Cat

    DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, contains instructions for our genetic code and is responsible for determining many physical traits in our pets, like coat color and blood type.

    DNA is found in every single cell in the body, is inherited from each parent, and is passed onto offspring — making every cat unique.

    In order to conduct a DNA test on a cat, many companies require either a sample of blood or saliva and/or a hair sample. Each and every cell in your pet’s body contains the same DNA. This means that a sample for DNA testing can be taken from anywhere, like blood, skin cells, hair cells, or saliva.

    Although DNA tests can be performed using a wide range of tissue as a sample, the most commonly used methods for collecting a sample from your cat can potentially include some combination of collecting a blood sample, performing a cheek swab, or performing a hair test.

    This is because these are usually the most accurate, involve the least amount of pain, and are the easiest to obtain. Once collected, the sample is processed to isolate the DNA, analyzed, and the results are categorized using an algorithm.

    The results from a feline DNA test reveal specific genetic variants (or markers) that are compared to other samples of specific breeds and profiles. The genetic markers that your pet has inherited from their mother and father provide insight into their identity, health, nutrition needs, and their risk of developing certain common health conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease or hip dysplasia.

    Blood Test

    Feline blood DNA tests are less common than cheek swab tests or hair tests because they require a trip to the veterinarian’s office or lab to collect a sample. The blood test analyzes DNA found in a sample of blood.

    This type of test is usually done in coordination with, and under the guidance of, your cat’s veterinarian. It is common in these cases that the veterinarian has a test provider/company of choice, and will take care of sending the sample into the testing company for you.

    If this is the case, they are likely to also review the DNA test results with you to help you make sense of them as well as plan for any additional testing.

    Cheek Swab

    A cheek swab sample analyzes DNA from skin cells found on the inside of the cat’s cheek, and is collected by inserting a cotton swab inside your cat’s mouth and then moving it along the side of the cheeks. This kind of sample can be provided without an additional hair sample in the case of hairless cat breeds, or may be the only sample type required depending on the pet DNA test brand that you choose.

    After receiving the feline DNA testing kit ordered online or purchased locally, you will have to register with the company online to receive the results. Then, you will perform the cheek swab on your cat, following your test’s specific instructions carefully.

    Most tests recommend that you wait a few hours after the cat has eaten in order to avoid contamination of their sample with food particles and excessive saliva. Some brands of tests will require you to wait until the sample swab is dry before packaging it appropriately and sending it back for testing.

    If you have any questions about the sampling process, it’s best to reach out to the testing provider as they will be able to answer any questions you have.

    Most results are available within a month of return, but testing times may vary according to the cat DNA test brand and time of year. It is very important that you follow all instructions provided by the company in order to ensure that you receive your results.

    Hair Test

    Some companies use only a hair sample test, or a hair sample test in conjunction with a cheek swab test, to sample your feline friend’s DNA. The hair sample is taken via a sticker-like adhesive strip that is applied to your cat’s coat.

    You simply stick it on, pet your cat in that area to ensure that the hair adheres to the strip, and then pull it off against the growth pattern of the hair. It’s important to follow the instructions on the test kit as closely as possible to prevent incomplete or inconclusive results.

    How Much Does a Cat DNA Test Cost?

    Similar to popular home ancestry DNA kits for humans like 23andMe, the price of home DNA test kits for cats is intended to be accessible.

    The cost of a home feline DNA test kit can range from less than $50 to over $200, depending on the type of test performed and the testing company chosen.

    Keep in mind that these are the prices for the at-home testing kits. Prices for blood DNA tests, or other DNA tests performed in conjunction with your veterinarian, may vary.

    You should consult your veterinarian for more information on their rates for consultations and testing.

    Depending on the results, an at-home feline DNA test may prompt you to seek more information from your veterinarian. In this case, you should consult with your veterinarian about the necessity of, and the prices for, further DNA testing.

    They will be able to guide you through any additional testing options. Additional tests may be more comprehensive, and therefore may be more expensive than the at-home test kits or any initial preliminary DNA test performed.

    If you have questions about whether cat DNA testing is included in your pet insurance policy, contact your insurance provider for the exact details for your plan.

    Cat DNA Testing Kit

    In recent years, commercial pet DNA testing kits that can be ordered online, with the pet’s owner taking the DNA sample and sending it to the lab themselves, have risen in popularity. More and more people are researching, purchasing, and even gifting these kits.

    Most pet DNA testing kits can be ordered online or purchased from a local pet store. Once the feline DNA test kit arrives at your home, you simply follow the instructions for taking the cheek swab and/or hair sample.

    Once sampling is complete, send it back to the testing company for processing. The return postage may or may not be included, so it’s important to read all information about the testing kit before you buy, so as to avoid any surprises once it arrives.

    How to Choose the Best Cat DNA Test for You

    As with anything, the most important criteria for choosing the right feline DNA test for you is knowing what you want out of the results.

    Are you looking for more information on your cat’s breed? Are you more interested in learning more about potential inherited diseases? Are you interested in both?

    These are the questions you should ask yourself before you take the plunge and purchase a cat DNA test. It may help you to make a list prioritizing features and prices.

    Take a look at sample results from any testing companies you are considering, so that you know that you can easily interpret their results and are getting the data you are looking for.

    Another important aspect of choosing the best feline DNA test for your circumstances is doing your research. Make sure you read all the cat DNA test brand websites you are considering carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    There are rarely refunds available for this kind of product, so it’s crucial to know what you’re getting before you buy.

    Consult Your Vet

    Your cat’s veterinarian may be a valuable source of information when researching feline DNA testing options. It may be that they perform the tests in their office or can recommend a brand that they’ve used before.

    This coordination with your veterinarian is especially important if you plan on reviewing any of your cat’s results with them.

    Best Cat DNA Tests

    Below you will find some of the most popular feline DNA test brands on the market today, but ultimately the best cat DNA test depends on what your testing objectives are.

    Many of the tests on the market can vary greatly in what is included, the quality of the sample equipment, the quality of the results, the readability of the results, how many (if any) inherited diseases are tested for, whether return postage is included, and a variety of other factors.

    If you are interested in knowing more about feline DNA blood tests, you should consult your veterinarian. They should be able to assist you in choosing a test, performing the necessary blood draw on your cat, and sending the sample away for analysis.

    For a more detailed comparison of the three cat DNA home testing kit brands, please see this article from Canine Journal.

    HomeDNA

    -Available for $125
    -Screens for over 40 inherited genetic diseases and traits
    -Approximately 3 week wait time for results
    -Postage included

    Basepaws

    -Available for $95
    -Breed detection for up to 32 different cat breeds and 14 wild cats
    -Screens for over 32 inherited genetic diseases and traits
    -Approximately 8-12 week wait time for results
    -Postage included

    Optimal Selection

    -Available for $99.99
    -Not a breed detection product. Intended for use on purebred cats and mainly by breeders.
    -Screens for over 40 inherited genetic diseases and traits

    Find a Test: Pet DNA Tests Near Me

    To find a pet DNA testing location near to you, talk to your veterinarian or local pet store about reputable laboratories available in your area.

    If you have comprehensive pet insurance, it may also be a good idea to reach out to your insurance company to see whether testing is included in their policy or if they have any associated laboratories or discounts. Your pet’s veterinarian may also offer this service or have a trusted testing company they have used before to interpret and analyze results.

    It’s always a good idea to consult with your pet’s veterinarian before choosing a test so they can help you to choose a test with reliable results that can be used later for any necessary health-related interventions.

    Available at a Local Petsmart Location

    If you aren’t sure where you can find a veterinarian or a pet DNA testing center near you, check out your nearest Petsmart location. Many Petsmart locations sell pet DNA test kits that can be performed at home, and many feature an on-site Banfield veterinary clinic that can provide you with additional pet DNA testing options.

    Many can perform a Canine Genetic Analysis (CGA) test on site. See below for some of these locations across the United States:

    Banfield/Petsmart in Little Rock, Arkansas

    11400 Financial Center Pkwy
    Little Rock, AR 72211
    (501) 223-8447

    Banfield/Petsmart in Albuquerque, New Mexico

    8070 Academy Rd NE
    Albuquerque, NM 87111
    (505) 797-7194

    Banfield/Petsmart in Seattle, Washington

    1426 Harvard Ave
    Seattle, WA 98122
    (206) 302-7729