DNA testing can help you better understand the genetic makeup of your pet. You can learn many things about them, such as their ancestry, specific breed, and traits. You can also learn about certain diseases they may be more prone to developing or if they have sensitivities to foods and drugs. Understanding your pet’s specific breed may spark a discussion with your veterinarian about diet and exercise plans that are best suited for their particular breed. While learning about the DNA of your pet, it is important to keep in mind that these tests may not always be 100% accurate.
Having the genetic mutation for a disease is not the same as having the disease. For example, if your pet has a genetic mutation linked to a specific type of cancer, they may not currently have the cancer, but they are at risk for developing it. Also, just because the DNA test did not detect a mutation for a particular disease, this does not mean your pet will never develop it. View the DNA test as a warning of risk, not of certainty. One of the major benefits of DNA tests is that they can help with earlier diagnoses. Early diagnoses lead to starting treatments earlier and improving your pet’s quality of life. Knowing that your pet is at risk for a cancer can help you be aware of the early signs and symptoms.
Even if your pet does not have a genetic mutation for cancer, they may have mutations for other health concerns. DNA tests allow owners to gain prior knowledge about health issues that may impact their pet. Your dog or cat may start showing pain symptoms, and if you are aware of what they are, you can take action sooner. Talk with your veterinarian about the specifics of the issues your pet is at risk for developing. Know what these issues are, what symptoms to be on the lookout for, and what treatment options are available.
Your pet is still the same pet they were before their DNA test results came back. The results do not change who they are, they change how much you know about them. These tests are not meant to redesign your pet’s life. Rather, they help you understand them and predict some of the health issues they may face. Correlation does not always equal causation, so before making any changes to your pet’s lifestyle based on their DNA test, have a discussion with your veterinarian about what their results mean.