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Understanding Genetic (DNA) Testing in Pets – Veterinary Diagnostics
What is Genetic (DNA) testing?
Genetic (DNA) testing is a form of medical test that analyses RNA, genes, chromosomes or proteins (the blueprint that instructs how the body develops and grows) in a body’s cells in order to detect any supposed genetic state or help determine a parent’s chance of developing and subsequent passing on a particular genetic disorder to their offspring. Genetic (DNA) testing can also be used to determine an offspring’s descent or in general, their ancestry. It also provides information about a body’s chromosomes and genes and in life.
What is DNA?
DNA, also known as deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary matter containing biological instructions in almost all organisms. The DNA is what makes all species unique. It is passed on from the parent to the offspring during reproduction. All cells in any body contain a copy of an individual’s DNA; with the exception of the red blood cells. A DNA, also known as a gene marker is a specialized piece of DNA that can be traced to a distinctive physical position on a chromosome. A marker can be said to be any assessable inheritable disparity that shows a difference between individual or particular animal types such as body types, coat color, different characteristics of conformation and various traits (gentleness, marbling).
Just as DNA testing is executed to determine parenthood in guardianship cases, it has also become a preferred test for pets. An animal’s DNA constitutes elongated threadlike chromosomes that are usually present in the nucleus of every cell in the body. The genetic code for every part of that creature can hence be found in any cell of the body be it blood, hair, muscle or bone. In the recent past, researchers have recorded the genomes of many animal species in an attempt to ascertain their comprehensive genetic composition.
Given that the genetic code (DNA) of a particular animal is present in each body cell, a small fraction of that animal can be used to validate its identity. Genetic (DNA) testing is thus the standard means for familial authentication for all species. This technological advancement is by far the most powerful means known for determining parentage questions and other individual genetic disorders. For breeders, a pet DNA test increases the value and validity of the pedigree in question. In any animal registry, the validity of a given pedigree’s bloodline is what’s most essential for the known descent is what makes any animal priceless.
Genetic testing is done to determine the breed composition of pets. Given that most pet owners have little to no reliable information regarding the ancestral account of their pets; it would then be safe to say that there are more than enough valid reasons for this type of genetic analysis. Pet DNA testing is currently available for dogs, cats, horses and birds.
Why should pet owners want to test their pets?
One of the very useful applications of genetic testing is that potential pet owners can get precise information from animal shelters when they enquire about a particular breed. If your pet is of unidentified lineage, genetic (DNA) testing could be very important information to finally get in your hands. You could find it useful in cases of disease analysis and the knowledge could also be a potential life saver for your pet; and especially if the particular pet carries gene signs for certain disease or sensitivity to particular drugs.
Getting your pet to partake in genetic testing allows you to find out more specific information about the breeds that make up that pet. You could also be prepared to the occurrence of common maladies of that breed such as joints ailments, eye complications, heart disorders or other metabolic problems such as diabetes.
· How animal genetic testing is carried out
The way animal DNA testing is carried out is not all that different from the way human DNA happens. Currently, there are only two ways to collect DNA samples from your pet:
- Cheek swab
- Blood sample
The laboratory is required to provide the pet owner with an easy-to-use swab kit. The owner is then required to perform a buccal swab of their pet’s saliva. When the swabs are rubbed, the mouth automatically collects the cheek cells from the pet which are used to study specific DNA markers used to verify the pet’s ancestry. In autoimmune disease cases, the analyst will look for specific gene alterations that establish whether or not the pet is prone to the disease. The cheek swab type of DNA collection can be done at home without a veterinary officer’s supervision. If you want to Do-It-Yourself at home, then you can order a home test kit from the various DNA test kit manufacturers or even online. You can also buy it yourself at one of your local stores that specialize in pet supplies.
How much does it Cost/ where are tests done?
You can get your pet’s DNA online or at any pet supply retail store from as low as $45. Many veterinarian clinics can also do a pet DNA test for you. Bear in mind that more expensive does not necessarily mean better and more accurate. While some tests may take less than a week for the owner to finally get the results, others may take up to two months to get the results, depending on the nature of the analysis and other detailed tests. Most local animal DNA laboratories are dedicated to provide you with affordable, efficient and friendly DNA testing for your pet.
It is important to note that genetic testing is an area of ongoing research and so it is possible for inaccuracies to occur. Results are likely to be more accurate if owners follow the given guidelines and provide quality DNA samples. For you to get the best results, it is recommended that owners research for companies that tender the most genetic markers.
While animal genetic testing is interestingly a very valuable part of DNA technological development, sadly, it still remains to be largely an unknown piece of knowledge. There’s no doubt that as technology advances, DNA testing appliances for animals will equally improve, subsequently providing co