A long-haired retriever dog

If you are like most pet owners, your pet is a mixed breed, or Heinz 57, as we like to call them. Fabulous mutts make amazing pets because they are a mix of several breeds and often display the best of each of these breeds, rather than only one. Since your pet has a personality of their own, their behaviors and idiosyncrasies may have you guessing about their origins.

You are in luck. Pet DNA testing is a popular choice for pet lovers everywhere, and a great idea for holiday gifts, too. So, what does a pet DNA test reveal? Is it accurate? The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are here to answer these questions.

What Is a Pet DNA Test

A DNA test for pets uses a swab that you carefully place in your pet’s mouth and collect saliva from the cheek. Some tests requires a small amount of blood to be drawn for better accuracy of the reading. These tests are then sent back to a lab for genetic analysis. The lab looks for breed markers, variations in cells and chromosomes, and other indicators of your pet’s breed and susceptibility to certain diseases.

Pet DNA testing has been around for the past few decades but they are increasingly more sophisticated now. Most tests can look at the past three generations of your pet’s family to determine their lineage and range of predisposition to diseases.

In reading your pet’s results, each breed found will be listed, along with their percentage of genetic match. Some tests rank breeds found by significant, intermediate, or minor, while others use a numeric grade. As with human DNA tests, it is important to shop around for a company that has the greatest number of breeds represented, as well as the largest amount of data available.

The Benefits of DNA Testing

Most pet owners are excited to learn their pets’ ancestral background, but there are several other advantages to learning about your pet’s genetics.

  • You will have a greater understanding of your pet’s breed composite
  • You will get insight into any diseases your pet is predisposed to
  • This insight can help you better care for and understand your pet
  • You will gain an awareness of what size and weight your pet should be at
  • Affordable and easy to use
  • Ability to make changes to reduce the risk of disease based on findings

The Downsides

Along with costs you may not have had in your monthly pet budget, there are a few considerations about pet DNA testing. First, these tests are not always accurate or reliable, which is why it is important to read reviews and consumer reports ratings on these products. Also, health screening based on DNA testing is relatively young and may lead you down the wrong road if you decide to make changes to your pet’s health based on these analyses.

The good news about pet DNA testing is that new, more accurate tests are being developed every year. Still, one of the best ways you can understand your pet’s breed and health needs is to consult your veterinarian

Your friends at Naperville welcome your questions about pet DNA testing and can help you decode the results. Please do not hesitate to call us about this or any other question.