DNA Tests for Dogs and Cats
It is now possible to have your pet DNA tested but is this a good way to spend your hard-earned cash? The answer is almost certainly yes because the advanced tests provide a raft of potentially useful information for both you and scientists researching animal health.
Parentage and Health
For instance, if you have a crossbreed you can find out more about your dog’s parentage. This could prove useful in determining whether or not it could be prone to certain health conditions. The tests can also be used to establish whether or not your dog has any gene mutations which mean that they will suffer from or are carriers of certain diseases.
If you know that you animal is likely to develop a particular condition you can organise regular checks so the animal will receive treatment at the earliest opportunity. You can also make judgements about whether or not you should breed from your animal. You could even find out if your pet has a "greedy" gene which makes them more likely to become obese.
The Animal Health Trust conducts DNA tests at a cost of £40 and the profits are reinvested to fund further research into animal health. All you have to do is swab the inside your pet’s mouth and send off the tests for analysis. The testing procedure features 30 different tests. The most recent of these to be evolved is a test for a gene mutation which has been linked to overeating in dogs. Dogs with this mutation are, on average, 4kg heavier that other dogs of their breed.
If you know that your dog has this mutation you can prevent weight issues occurring by moderating their diet and improving their exercise regime.
Further tests determine a dog’s parentage and so enable owners and prospective owners to establish the exact breed of dog that they are investing in. This would be particularly useful for those adopting animals from rescue centres. A dog may look like a Labrador cross but it would be useful to know whether or not it actually is. The effectiveness of the DNA test in this regard will depend on how mixed your dogs’ background is.
In the USA a testing company called Embark will even be able to tell you where your dog’ ancestors came from. Cool!
Helping Human Health
Perhaps more importantly, DNA tests for pets enable scientists to build useful databases of information and to learn more about the prevalence of certain gene mutations. The tests also aid research into disease in humans. It has been discovered, for instance, that a mutation which causes neurological disease in Parson Russell Terriers and Jack Russell Terriers, causes the same issue in humans.
You can never have too much information if you want to take the best care of your pets so a DNA test is a great idea. Getting your pet tested will also help researchers to learn more about pets in general and that has to be a good thing.