DNA Profiling for pets

We are all familiar with the uses of DNA testing of humans for identification of individuals and genetic profiling for certain diseases and traits. This technology is now available for our pets. No two individuals, other than identical twins or clones, share the same genetic make-up. Using this technology it is possible to accurately identify individuals which is useful in the following situations:-
• Accurate future identification of a pet once its DNA profile has been recorded.
• Verification of a pet’s pedigree.
• Verification of the sire (father) in cases where several males may have inseminated the female or where the identity of the sire is in doubt.
• Verification of the dam (mother) in cases of dispute.
• Identification of the breeds that have contributed to the genetic make-up of your mixed-breed pet.

DNA testing can also be used to screen for genetic diseases. Although an individual may not have a genetic disease themselves they may carry a gene for one that could be passed on to their offspring. DNA testing can identify such genes and is a useful tool for giving advice to pedigree breeders wanting to ensure their breeding animals are free of known genetic diseases. It adds great value as new owners have peace of mind that their new pet is not going to develop a specific disease. It is also of benefit for pet owners to have their individual pets genetically profiled to show that they are either free of genetic diseases or to best manage the situation if results show a predisposition for developing a specific disease.

Certain genetic diseases are more common in specific breeds of dog. Border Collies for instance may carry the gene for Collie Eye which can lead to blindness. Progressive Retinal Atrophy is another genetic disease which causes blindness and can be found in many dog breeds including the Labrador Retriever and English Cocker Spaniel. Irish Setters can carry a gene for Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD) which reduces the ability to fight infection whereas Dobermans can carry a gene for Von Willbrands Disease which is a type of Haemophilia. For a full list of the genetic diseases which certain breeds of dogs can be tested for please contact The Vet Centre to discuss this with a Vet.

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disease of certain breeds of cat (Persian, Exotics, Himalayans, British and American Shorthairs, Scottish Folds and Ragdolls). There is now a test available to detect this gene in carrier cats allowing the breeder to avoid breeding two carriers together.

In both cats and dogs the testing is performed from a simple swab taken from the mouth during a normal consultation period. Some samples can be tested in New Zealand but others need to be sent to the USA for testing and here at The Vet Centre we have all the necessary forms needed to get the samples through customs. All you need to do is make an appointment with us and we will do the rest.

Please contact us if you require further information or if you would like to
make an appointment to see one of our vets.