Veterinary Viewpoint: DNA testing for pets

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Dr. Joanna Bronson
| Special to the reporter

Aside from idle curiosity, understanding our pet’s genetic makeup can help owners tailor a pet’s care to the unique needs of their breed.

We don’t do DNA testing in our clinic as there are so many places that offer this service.

DNA testing can provide valuable information about the characteristics of a particular breed, especially if your dog is a mixed breed or of unknown origin.

The most obvious benefit of a DNA test is knowing exactly what type of dog you own.

With DNA being the genetic coding of all living things, now instead of a guessing game, Fido could have a traceable lineage that could explain some of his mixed breed traits.

For example, if your dog looks primarily like a hunting dog but enjoys herding other animals, a border collie gene may have gotten into the mix. Now you have the proof.

Dietary needs, potential health concerns, and the amount of exercise required will vary by breed. Behavioral traits such as restraint or friendliness are also breed-specific. Racial mix identification could provide interesting answers.

As defined, a breed is listed as a specific group of pets that have a homogeneous appearance, behavior, and other characteristics that distinguish one breed from another. Learning the genetic makeup of our pets can help us train and care for them better.

In a perfect world, people would choose a particular race based on their wants and needs. In an adoption, however, surprises are not uncommon, combined with the external image.

Depending on the breed, some dogs are easier to train while others are more independent and have high energy levels. Some breeds may have genetic predispositions to certain structural and systemic problems, such as hip dysplasia and protruding eyeballs, or they may carry a gene that could give them a propensity to develop diabetes and cancer.

Even with genetic testing, there is no guarantee that a particular dog can develop a structural problem or a genetically predisposed disease. However, when the markers are in place, factors like a preventive diet can help reduce the chance that a potential genetic trail will develop into a bigger problem.

For example, Labrador Retrievers are prone to developing hip problems. It is therefore important that they do not become heavy, as being overweight can worsen a basic structural condition.

Heavier dogs can also be prone to diabetes, but a well-controlled diet can go a long way in keeping this condition at bay.

The more owners know about their dog’s potential health issues, the better they can manage their lifestyle to keep them healthy.

Top notch DNA tests can be tested on over 350 dog breeds with a 98% breed recognition result. It can also display over 210 health tests and 35 trait tests. Even in purebred breeds, there may be indications of health problems that may not have been uncovered by the breeder or were unknown in his breeding generations

The various tests list which components they can discover. The cost per test varies depending on the knowledge you want.

A clear benefit of the test results is the ability to anticipate treatable health risks before they become problematic. Initiative in health care is always an advantage.

Pet genetic testing is not new and has been used for over 20 years. It’s just more on the news.

Because different breeds are predisposed to specific diseases, knowing the different breeds that make up a mixed dog can provide valuable health information that leads to early disease detection and better prevention.

Certain breeds also have distinctive traits. Knowing the potential size, temperament, and movement requirements can also help with handling and training.

The different genetic tests usually include:

  • The DNA mixed breed ancestry profile used to determine which purebred breeds contributed to the genetic mix of a particular dog.
  • Full genetic attribute profiles can be performed on purebred animals, hybrids (such as golden and labradoodles), and mixed breed pets. This valuable information can be used to assess medical predispositions and certain racial characteristics.
  • Specific breed profiles can be done to assess just the condition that has been identified in that breed, such as: B. a predisposition to hip dysplasia.
  • Individual genetic tests can reveal the likelihood of developing certain medical problems.

DNA testing is reputed to have 99% accuracy of the different breeds found in a mixed dog.

Ultimately, DNA testing could be used to identify potential health problems.

Dr. Joanna Bronson of Bronson Veterinary Services, located at 452 W. Central Road, Coldwater. Contact them at (517) 369-2161 or visit