In 2017, the quantity of people who had their DNA tested doubled. According to genealogy industry, over 12 million people had their DNA examined via direct-to-consumer genetic tests. It is estimated that 1 in every 25 American adults has carried out one of these tests in one way or another. In the past ten years, this industry keeps growing and has birthed new industries.
Everyone has heard the saying; dog is man’s best friend. Well, the genomic revolution is not limited to humans, our furry domesticated friends, our pets are also getting pet genealogy tests.
Throughout America and Canada, many companies have been offering pet DNA test kits for pet genetic testing services to pet owners, veterinarians, breeders, pet adoption agencies and animal rescue centers or shelters.
How a Pet DNA test works
DNA is the genetic material found within every single cell of all organisms. It contains the information for making body structures. Humans and any other animal inherit DNA in equal 50% portions from their biological parents. This genetic information within pet DNA can be tracked back to generations before. If a simple pet ancestry test was done to find out just the parentage of its offspring, it will be noted that, it received 50% of its breed from each parent.
The pet DNA kit is just like the human DNA testing kit, it contains instructions for DNA collection from the pet, a guide to register the DNA kit and return it to the company and a straightforward description of the DNA test report. The sampling process usually follows this format:
- Order or buy pet DNA testing kit
- A swab is rubbed on the pet’s cheek with its mouth open collecting DNA from the pet. In alternative cases, the blood of the pet can be required.
- The sample is sent to the DNA testing company where the DNA is isolated and examined for the different gene variants and traits
- The results are presented in a test report.
How-To Tell If an animal Is Purebred
One way is to check the pedigree documents of your pet. If you’re in a country where this is available, then certain organizations register pets when they’re born and the owners receive pedigree papers which state information about the pet such as what type of animal it is, its breed, its parents, the vaccines the pet has taken and others.
If the pedigree papers are missing or unavailable, you can take your pet to a professional such as a veterinarian to determine your pet’s breed based on its features. For example, when examining a cat, traits such it having long hair or short hair, the fur or eye color, the patterns on the fur, its weight and size all come into play. Some cats like the American curl have distinctive ears. So do dogs like Pugs have distinctive look and size. Arabian horses have distinguished wedge-shaped heads with a board forehead, large nostrils and large eyes while house breed, the American Quarter has a small, short, refined head with a muscular body and straight profile.
The most accurate way to verify if a pet is a purebred would be through a pet breed DNA test. The test can be ordered online. When delivered, you follow the instructions. You obtain the DNA of the pet in the sampling kit and send it to the company responsible. The company has large database of DNA of multiple animal breeds. The company matches the DNA of your pet to the database they have on purebred pets and finds the best match.
Which is the best DNA test for your pet?
These pet DNA test typically cost between $40 to $200 and there are so many companies offering different types of test but they usually have a panel. In the panel, rather than having individual disease tests the pet is tested for many diseases and its breed. Picking the right DNA test, depends on what results you would want.
Some companies such as Mars Veterinary offers a blood test that screens for close to 150 genetic disease mutations and checks the breed of the pet. The company was one of the earliest in consumer-targeted DNA breed testing and launched its first breed test for dogs in 2007. According to Mars Veterinary since then they have conducted almost 800,000 dog DNA tests.
Another company called Embark Veterinary, plans to be the 23andMe for dog. It offers a panel including genetic research into 160 different diseases, tests for 175 different dog breeds, the dog’s ancestry and traits such as the coat and body features.
These tests are not made for just dog owners. There are many other companies offering pet test for other animals like birds, horses and cats. For example, for cats, companies such as BestPaws, HomeDNA and EasyDNA have the best pet DNA test reviews. These companies that offer genetic disease screening for cats for diseases like Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Polycystic Kidney Disease, and many others.
These genetic disease screening tests are important because some certain breeds of animals suffer from inherited disorders like humans do but it tends to be more in purebred animals. Cats like the Ragdoll cats have predisposition to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and the Persian cats are prone to upper respiratory problems, birthing difficultly and malocclusions. Horse breeds may also be prone to Lethal White Syndrome, malignant hyperthermia, amongst others.
When it comes to birds, Avian DNA Gender Determination or bird sexing is a common DNA testing method. It is non-surgical tool used by veterinarians, breeders, and bird owners who find it difficult determine the gender of their bird by its physical appearance or characteristics. The DNA testing can be performed on blood cards, which are samples from bird toenail clippings or feathers from the bird’s breast for many different species. The Polymerase Chain Reaction is used to detect the presence of male and female chromosomes in the bird’s DNA. In a similar way, the bird’s DNA can be checked for it’s breed and its genetic predisposition to certain diseases. Companies such as DNA Diagnostics Centre Veterinary and HealthGene offer these services.