Have you ever wondered about the story behind your favourite furry friend? If you are curious like many other pet parents, pet DNA tests are your chance to find out the answers!
Pet DNA tests are a genetic testing tool that helps owners learn pertinent information such as breed composition, allergy, ancestry, and risk of diseases.
So how do you get started? We have created this useful guide to help you understand everything about DNA testing and make the right decisions for your furry best friend.
How does pet DNA testing work?
Pet DNA test kits usually contain a cotton swab to collect samples and a tube to package the sample for shipping. After collecting the sample, you'll have to seal the cotton swap in a tube and ship it to a lab.
Different companies operate with different labs, so make sure to get the correct shipping address from your pet DNA test company. Once the sample arrives at the lab, a technician will extract and amplify the DNA found in the sample for analysis.
Miniature biochips, or microarray chips, are a collection of microscopic DNA spots that can measure the expression levels of large numbers of genes and match them to specific pet characteristics.
This technology, when exposed to your pet’s DNA, will detect various genetic markers to obtain a comprehensive genetic analysis.
How to collect pet samples?
To collect your pet's sample, you need to brush your pet's cheeks and gums with the given cotton swab. This sample will contain skin cells and white blood cells useful for DNA testing. Do not rub swabs on your pet's tongue or teeth, as this will result in a poor quality sample and subsequent inaccurate results.
Make sure your pet has not eaten or drank anything for at least 1 hour before collecting the samples.
Are pet DNA tests accurate?
In most cases, DNA tests are very accurate because the microarray chip technology is highly specific. However, DNA tests are not error-proof as they are subjected to the possibilities of human errors such as contamination or sample mix-ups.
Moreover, some DNA tests may have limited numbers of genetic markers it can look into. Although this wouldn’t compromise the accuracy of the results, it may reduce the quality of information you can get from the test.
Is DNA testing the same as cat/dog breed testing?
No. Breed testing reveals less information compared to DNA testing. This is because breed testing only involves finding the similarity of your pet's genes with that of different breed groups. On the other hand, DNA testing allows owners to learn about their pets as a whole. On top of breed and ancestry information, you can also learn about personality, traits, and your pet's health.
Can a vet do cat/dog DNA testing?
The process of DNA testing and analysis must be done in a lab under sterile conditions. Most veterinary clinics do not have this facility. However, a vet can obtain a sample of your pet's DNA-containing cells and send them to an external lab.
How much does pet DNA testing cost In Malaysia?
There aren't many local pet DNA testing companies in Malaysia. Henceforth, most DNA test kits have to be shipped from overseas countries such as the United Kingdom or Australia. Considering the shipping fee and conversion rates, pet DNA testing kits may cost anywhere from RM600 to RM800.
Best pet DNA tests in Malaysia
Embark Dog DNA Test
Embark Breed & Health Kit is made in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. At the moment, they only offer dog DNA test kits. It has one of the most detailed pet breed breakdowns in the market, so it's suitable for rare or special breed dogs.
Another exciting aspect of Embark Breed & Health Kit is that you can get to know other dog owners that Embark has found share DNA with your dog. The DNA test results are usually released in 2-4 weeks of the sample arriving in the lab.
Price: ~ RM 830
Buy from: DesertCart
Basepaws Breed + Health Cat DNA Test
Basepaw is a female-founded company that focuses on making cat DNA tests accessible to cat parents. Their test kits serve as a comprehensive feline breed and health screening tool.
Apart from detecting genetic diseases, this test kit can also identify the risk for common dental conditions in cats. The report of this test will include your cat's blood type and resistance to FIV too.
Price: ~RM 540
Buy from: DesertCart
GENO PET 5.0 (Breed + Health Kit)
This DNA test will determine your dog’s breed and also screen for over 200 heritable diseases, traits, and health concerns. The results will be presented to you in an online interactive account, LIFE PLAN, with personalized nutritional suggestions and daily energy needs analysis.
You can also continually update your dog’s LIFE PLAN dashboard with the latest weight, body condition, nutrition, health records, and medication throughout their lives.
Price: ~ RM 500-700
Buy from: DesertCart
Wisdom Panel Essential
Wisdom has the world's largest dog DNA database, and it has tested over 2 million dogs worldwide. This DNA test reveals your dog's breed and variety with excellent sensitivity (down to 1%). Furthermore, you'll also be informed of medications and procedures that are safe for your dog through medical complications and drug sensitivity screening. These dog DNA test kits come with 98% accuracy, making them the choice for many dog parents and veterinarians.
Price: ~ RM 629
Buy from: DesertCart
Is It Compulsory To Do Pet DNA Testing In Malaysia?
No. At the time of writing this article, pet DNA testing in Malaysia is only encouraged for personal purposes.
It's not declared as a must by the laws of Malaysia or the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and is therefore not mandatory. Pet DNA tests only serve as a means for owners to have a good understanding of their pet's genetic makeup.
DNA Testing vs. MKA Certification
MKA certification contains information about a dog's lineage, origins, underlying illnesses, and health conditions.
The main purpose of MKA certs is to eliminate the fraudulent use of pedigree and protect the pureness of the genetic pool.
The MKA cert should be obtained from the breeder when purchasing. Furthermore, you should pay an annual fee of RM80 to register and become an MKA member.
On the contrary, DNA tests work on a one-off payment basis, and they provide the same information (if not more!) about your dog.
In short, MKA tests are particularly useful to verify if your dog is purebred. DNA tests, however, are cost-effective and beneficial for any type of dog—mixed or purebred.
Should I do DNA testing on my pet?
DNA testing is an intriguing technology that's becoming popular by the day. It's crazy how a small cheek sample can reveal everything from ancestral lineage to personality traits.
Besides knowing your pet breed and characteristics, DNA tests are also powerful preventative tools for managing your pet's health and well-being. So you can consider doing DNA testing on your pet if you’d like to learn more about its health and traits.
While DNA testing is a useful tool that could help you better manage your pet’s health, it doesn’t replace vet visits and treatment.
One way to safeguard your pet’s health at an affordable cost is by getting pet insurance. Oyen’s Pet Insurance covers both cats and dogs and ensures your pet gets the best treatment and care in the event of any illness or accident.
You no longer have to worry about high vet bills, and your pet’s health is well looked after.