pet genetics

What to do if your patient has a positive genetic mutation?

Gain practical advice on how to proceed when a positive test result indicates that animal has a genetic mutation in one or more of the analyzed genes.



In genetic testing for pets, veterinarians often question how to proceed when a positive result for a particular disease is found. A positive test result indicates that the animal has a genetic mutation in one or more of the analyzed genes, which may be called a disease-causing or pathogenic variant. A positive result may indicate an increased risk of developing an inherited condition.

A positive result can inform you of an unknown health risk or help explain a pet’s symptoms. 

The value of DNA testing is that if a genetic mutation is found, you can educate the pet owners, begin precision diagnostic test monitoring to identify illness earlier, and offer medical and lifestyle interventions to mitigate or potentially prevent symptoms or disease. Genetic testing provides the power of preparedness.

As I’ve said for nearly three decades, pet owners don’t care what dogs and cats need; they care what their dog or cat needs. Genetic tests provide personalized medical information to allow veterinarians to individualize each patient’s medical care.

Let’s take the case of a cat that has tested positive for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM mutation. What does this mean for the cat's health, and how can we use this information to help improve their quality of life?

First, lifestyle changes, precision monitoring, and early diagnosis can all play a role in improving the cat's condition and possibly extending its life expectancy. By using individualized risk factors, we can create a personalized lifetime care or wellness program that includes more frequent exams, diagnostic tests, and imaging.

Additionally, various pharmaceutical, dietary, and nutraceutical recommendations may benefit the cat's long-term health. We can also stress the importance of maintaining a healthy body condition to sustain their well-being.

By taking these steps, we can work with pet parents to provide the best possible care for cats with HCM, ensuring they have the highest quality of life and the healthiest future possible.

Because your medical advice is based on their pet’s unique DNA and risks, pet parents are more likely to adhere to your plan and actively participate in their cat’s care. 

Even in cases where there’s little we can do to help, being prepared provides peace of mind for many pet parents. Take a dog that has a genetic mutation associated with seizures. While there’s a good chance we can’t prevent this neurological disorder, we can teach the client what to look for, how to minimize triggers and household hazards, and what to do if a seizure occurs. We can tell them we hope they never have to use this information, much like we hope they never have to test how well their seatbelt works. So we buckle up.

Preparedness also allows for planning, including adding pet insurance before symptoms develop. While we can’t detect every disease, I’d prefer to have as much medical information as possible to provide the best veterinary care possible.    

Use your patient's genetic disease risks as the foundation for individualized pet care. DNA isn’t destiny; it’s directions. Map out your patient’s health journey today.

If you have any questions about adding genetic testing to your practice, contact us at!

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