With DNA kits now also offering Health Screening, people are taking these health screening results as Black and White, which has Veterinarians speaking out against these DNA results. Lisa Moses a veterinarian in Boston, said “take the results with a grain of salt”. This is for many reasons, one being because they could differ based on the company. Dr. Moses cautions against the use of genetic testing alone to make medical decisions about individual dogs. Another reason is because the Standards are no where close to the same stands that we use in humans. In fact, the Dog DNA industry is not regulated at all like the Human DNA Industry.
Here’s How It Works
You buy an at home DNA Test from one of the big three and take your dogs sample, or have your Veterinarian collect the sample. You then mail it to the company for their lab to test the sample. Each company uses their own genetic markers to test for Health conditions, but depending on the company the sample will be tested for 100 to 200 different Diseases or Health Conditions. They use the genetic markers to find single-gene mutations for whether a dog acquires a disease. Dr. Moses says this is a “lousy predictor”. You can read a co-ed written by Dr. Moses and two other Boston-based animal research experts here.
The Lack of Follow Up
Once your dogs results are in there is no follow-up from the DNA companies to obtain more information on whether dogs identified with a mutation actually end up getting sick over their lifetime. This makes testing the single-gene mutation useless without follow up because there is no factual based evidence that can be used to determine the percent of tests that do find a mutation to the percent of dogs that actually fall ill when tested positive.
How These Results Are Affecting Veterinarians
Selling a Fun product like a DNA Test at a Veterinarian’s office is probably one of the easiest sales for them. However what most pet owners don’t realize is some Veterinarians use these results to push thousands of dollars of extra testing based on the DNA’s single-gene mutation results. Heart broken and scared pet owners will finance their way into debt based on their Veterinarians advice because a DNA Result showed a Disease or Health Condition.
Lack of Regulation
With Dogs Genetic Testing so new, regulation has not been able to catch up. In fact, these laboratories who offer Dog DNA Testing are basically self policing. They are NOT regulated by the FDA. The companies do provide multiple caveats about interpreting genetic test results in their terms and conditions that can be found online or in the product, but their warnings are not as prominent as their claims when it comes to advertising or marketing. The DNA Companies tend to be vague about which variant they test for, even in publications.
False Sense of Security
Even if the DNA results do not show a disease or health condition, this does NOT mean your dog will be free from any disease or health conditions.