Plenty of pet owners in the modern era opt to adopt their canine friend from a shelter. This wonderful practice gives these animals a new lease on life, and enables them to live out their years with a loving owner.
As owners, we also want what’s best for our pets. We may spend an ample amount of time feeding and grooming them, but we can never be certain about any health problems they may develop in the future.
Luckily, this is where genetic health testing for dogs may be useful.
Let’s examine the various reasons behind why you should DNA test your dog, and look at some great companies that offer this service.
What are Dog DNA Tests?
Dog DNA tests aren’t all that different from human DNA tests. They typically require owners to extract a DNA sample by swabbing the inside of their canine’s cheek before sending off the sample to the company offering the test.
What Does a Dog DNA Test Tell You?
A single Dog DNA test can tell you a lot about your canine. This includes:
If you adopted your canine from a shelter, you may be unsure about their breed. This is especially true in cases of mixed breeds that possess a variety of unique features.
There are hundreds of dog breeds out there, which can make it difficult for you to pin down exactly what your dog’s specific breed is.
A DNA testing company will screen your dog’s DNA against the DNA of hundreds of different breeds using “genotyping”and offer accurate insight into their ancestry.
It’s not uncommon for shelter dogs to be a mix of many different breeds. A DNA test will provide a detailed breakdown of their breed percentage.
Dog DNA testing companies also perform health screening on the samples you provide them. This screening involves checking for hundreds of genetic diseases your dog may be susceptible to. Such information can be invaluable for owners so that they can anticipate and prepare for any future health problems.
Such health problems are all too common with certain breeds. Some examples include:
● Dry eye or eye deformities inBloodhounds.
● Gastric dilatation volvulus inPoodles. This condition can be deadly if it isn’t treated with surgery.
● Canine cancer in Boxers.
● Patellar luxation, which causes unstable kneecaps for Shih Tzus.
● Bone cancer and cardiac disorders in Saint Bernards.
● Hip and elbow dysplasia inGolden Retrievers.
● Respiratory problems inBulldogs.
● Epilepsy in Beagles.
● Eye problems in Pugs.
● Autoimmune disorders inSuberian Huskies.
Other Benefits of Dog DNA Tests
In addition to helping you identify your canine’s breed and any health problems they may be susceptible to, a Dog DNA test can also help:
Determine the Best Lifestyle For Your Pet
Once you know your canine’s genetic breakdown, you can create a more suitable lifestyle for them. For example, if you have recently learnt that your pup is part Border Collie, you can plan longer exercise sessions for them. This breed typically requires around 90minutes of exercise per day.
Similarly, your puppy's breed information may also provide information about how often they shed their fur.
Any dog owner that has dealt with a high-shedding breed such as a poodle or a husky knows how challenging it can be to manage their fur. It’s best to be aware of your pooch’s shedding behavior before making a decision, such as choosing furniture for your home or moving into a new apartment.
Picking a Suitable Diet
All dogs require a balanced diet to remain healthy. However, the exact nutrient proportions they need may vary from breed to breed.
To get around this issue, many dog food manufacturers have begun creating dog foods specifically designed for certain breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, or Chihuahua.
Once you understand your pooch’s genetic breakdown you can cater to their dietary needs accordingly.
Another reason to consider DNA testing your dog is to discover their relatives.
Dog DNA testing companies maintain DNA records for thousands of dogs across the country.
You may be able to use their information to learn about your pup’s parents or siblings, and get in touch with their owners.
How to Perform a DNA Test?
As mentioned earlier, performing a DNA testis incredibly simple as the testing company takes care of most of the work. The typical steps for using Embark’s DNA testing kit is as follows:
- Open the testing kit and remove the collection tube with the swab provided.
- Place the swab sponge into your dog’s mouth using the tube as a handle.
- Swab your dog’s cheek and then place the swab underneath their tongue for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Once the swab is saturated with saliva, you can unscrew the cap, flip it around and place the swab side into the tube before screwing the cap back on.
- You should then invert the tube and shake it for 10 seconds.
- Go to Embark’s website and “activate” your kit.
- Mail your sample to Embark along with a prepaid envelope.
- Once Embark receives your sample, it will take 2 - 4 weeks for them to perform testing.
- Embark will email and/or text you when the results are ready.
- You can then see the results on your Embark account and download them as a detailed PDF.
Why Choose Embark?
Embark is one of the best dog DNA test companies out there. They have extensive experience with uncoding ancestry DNA for dogs and also provide owners with frequent updates regarding the status of their progress. You can trust them to offer an accurate assessment of your dog’s breed and any health problems they may be susceptible to. Check out their Breed IdentificationKit or their Breed + Health Kit package to get started with decoding your dog’s DNA.