Many people are skeptical about dog DNA testing. Can it really reveal important information about your pup? Is it worth the money?
DNA analysis has improved greatly in the last decade. The results can help you anticipate potential health and behavioral issues, giving you the power to keep your BFF healthy, happy and by your side longer!
What is involved in dog DNA testing?
The first doggy DNA test, the Wisdom Panel, was launched by Mars in 2007 and required a professionally drawn blood sample. Now all it takes is a cheek swab in the comfort of your own home to reveal your dog’s heritage.
You simply collect a smear of your magnificent mutt’s saliva and send it off in a pre-paid envelope. Laboratory professionals analyze the sample and identify your dog’s genetic mix from more than 350 individual breeds.
Your dog’s genetic heritage can reveal potential health issues before they strike.
Dog DNA testing gives you the tools to keep your pooch healthier longer. Many gentic health problems like auto-immune disorders, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy are more common in specific breeds. Knowing which breeds make up your pup gives you vital insight into health problems he may face. It also allows you to watch for specific symptoms and focus on prevention.
The information you receive can help your dog avoid illness, potentially cutting your future veterinary expenses. Even if you discover your dog is not at risk for any genetic diseases, it’s a small price to pay for such good news!
Dog DNA testing helps you determine the best diet and exercise plan for your pup.
When it comes to important life choices like nutrition, understanding your dog’s unique genetics can help you choose the best possible diet for his or her needs. For example, puppies that will grow to be 100 pounds have far different nutritional requirements than those who will max out at 50 pounds.
In addition to the dietary needs of specific breeds, some DNA tests can tell you which foods to avoid feeding your dog. The Nutriscan panel is designed to identify whether your dog has skin or stomach sensitivities to dozens of common ingredients.
As for exercise, breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs have difficulty with strenuous activity and need frequent breaks. Others, like terriers and working breeds require vigorous daily exercise to maintain physical and mental health. Certain dog DNA tests can even identify genetic markers for exercise-induced collapse so you can better protect your pup.
Breed analysis helps predict potential behavior problems.
Another valuable benefit to dog DNA testing is identifying potential behavior problems. Each of the 202 AKC recognized dog breeds have their own set of characteristics ranging from stubbornness to wanderlust. Knowing the issues you may face gives you a head start when it comes to training.
How do you know which company to trust?
If you are ready to decode your dog’s DNA you’ll want to choose a reputable company that gives you the most bang for your buck. Canine Journal recently researched and ranked their top 7 dog DNA tests.
The kit from Embark scored the number one spot. It analyzes over 200,000 genetic markers to determine the breeds that make up your dog’s bloodline. It also screens for more than 160 possible health complications and includes the first and only doggy DNA relative finder.
As for weeding out the inferior tests, Texas veterinarian Dr. Mark Moore says if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. He adds that reputable laboratories will never ask you to provide photos of your dog. Those that do may be guessing your dog’s mix based on appearance instead of running the actual DNA.