pet genetics

You Can't Pick Their Genes but You Can Pick Their Tests

Genetic testing is a bridge that connects pet parents, who want to know more about their pet, with veterinarians who are key partner in a pet's health.


You Can’t Pick Their Genes, But You Can Pick Their Tests
Dr. Ernie Ward

2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of the mapping of the human genome. The dog genome was completed in 2004, and cats followed in 2007.
🚀. Since then, the adoption of genetic tests has skyrocketed. In 2021, over $8 billion was spent on human genetic tests, and is expected to double by 2030. An estimated $1.29 billion was spent on direct-to-consumer human genetic tests, with that number topping $4 billion over five years. The animal genetics market was estimated at $5 billion in 2020 and will exceed $8.8 billion by 2028. While the vast majority of those tests are for food production animals, based on the number of social media ads I see these days, dog and cat genetic tests are prepared for takeoff. 
Clearly, there’s increasing demand for pet genetic tests. But what does this mean for veterinarians? If there is a first rule of veterinary medicine, it’s that veterinarians shouldn’t order a test unless there is a foreseeable benefit. Every test, no matter how seemingly benign, carries some risk.

💉  Venipuncture can cause pain or lead to infection.
☢️  X-rays potentially expose patients and staff to radiation.
⛔  Any test can yield a false result.
Most of these risks are unavoidable, regardless of how careful or skilled we are.
As long as there’s an expected benefit to the patient, veterinarians and pet parents can justify testing.
That’s why I’m an advocate for veterinary pet genetic tests.

Pet parents are seeking genetic information to better understand their dog or cat, provide
personalized care, and improve their pet’s lives. Veterinarians are committed to preventing
disease and offering optimal outcomes when illness strikes. Genetic testing is a bridge
connecting these two caregivers. Genetic information delivers health insights, allowing
veterinarians to create individualized precision monitoring and care programs, giving pet parents peace of mind that they’re providing the best care. Win-win-win.
Veterinarians should be the shepherds of this health journey to ensure pet parents understand the test results. They need medical guidance to act upon positive results and remain vigilant for additional health threats when negative. If pet genetic testing is ignored or not accepted by the veterinary profession, we risk losing a valuable opportunity for medical intervention while simultaneously confusing an undereducated public. We have a professional responsibility to embrace genetic testing for both the patient’s well-being while remaining medically relevant.

You can’t pick their genes, but you can pick their tests. Use veterinary genetic testing to
enhance your practice and bond with your clients and patients in a truly personalized way.

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