What is the difference between a DNA test for humans and one for dogs? Is it legal to take a DNA sample of my dog’s poop?
We’ll answer these questions in today’s blog post. For example, a human DNA test can be used to identify people, but not animals. On the other hand, a dog poop DNA test is typically used to determine if an animal has certain diseases or parasites.
There are some situations where people use this type of testing on their pets; however, potential legal consequences depend on what you’re trying to find out with the results.
This article will discuss whether or not it’s legal to take your pet’s poop and send it off for testing – as well as why you might want that information in the first place.
Is a Dog Poop DNA Test Legal?
In some cases, a dog DNA test can be used to find out if an animal has been exposed to certain diseases. In the United States, these tests are typically only available for animals that may have been exposed to any of the following:
- Lyme Disease,
- Ehrlichiosis (both spread by ticks),
- Babesiosis (spread by ticks),
- Anaplasmosis (also spread by ticks),
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (spread by ticks) and
- Heartworm Disease
These tests are also used in other countries to detect Leishmaniasis.
If you’re at all worried about your pet becoming infected with one of these parasites or diseases, talk to your veterinarian about having them tested. The process is pretty straightforward.
They’ll take a poop sample. That sample is then sent to a lab and tested for the genetic markers unique to each parasite or disease. The results come back fairly quickly and can be used as a guideline to help prevent infection if your pet goes outdoors.
Many people believe that testing an animal’s poop for certain diseases is invasive, unsanitary, and unnecessary.
However, these tests do not require any type of invasive procedure (such as drawing blood), and the samples are processed inside vials that keep everything contained; therefore, there’s no chance of cross-contamination.
Keep in mind that this type of test only looks for markers related to parasites and diseases.
What’s a Dog Poop DNA Test?
A DNA test, of course, is a laboratory experiment that can be used to determine the number of things about a dog.
The type of information you might want from a poop sample includes:
1. Breed-related markers
If you have your heart set on a purebred Golden Retriever, but your adopted pup’s genetic testing shows she’s an Australian cattle dog mix, then you’re going to have some explaining to do at the next family meeting.
In this case, the test results will show exactly what types of breeds are in your furry friend’s lineage.
2. Genetic health problems related to breed
In some cases, mixed breeds may have certain health problems due to their genetics (ex: early arthritis and hip dysplasia in large breeds).
In this case, the results of a DNA test may reveal whether or not your dog has these types of issues.
3. Presence of genetic parasites and diseases
If you’re worried about your furry pal contracting any type of disease or parasite, you can have them tested for evidence of exposure.
Results will indicate the presence of Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis; Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Syndrome, and Heartworm Disease – as well as Leishmaniasis if you live in another country.
Whether or not it’s legal to test an animal’s poop for certain information depends on what kind of sample is being tested (ex: human saliva vs. dog feces), where you live, and whether or not you’re using the results in a court case.
In some places, it’s illegal to test for certain conditions (ex: specific breeds in the United Kingdom and Australia).
In other cases, if your dog is a service animal and can be identified by their breed marker (ex: Golden Retrievers are used as guide dogs in various countries), then testing would be considered an invasion of privacy.
How Does It Work?
In most cases, a poop DNA test can be conducted with a poop sample.
However, depending on the type of information you’re looking for from your sample, some tests may require more materials (ex: blood samples).
If you want to know if your dog’s breed-related traits are purebred or mixed breed, then all that’ll be needed is a saliva swab.
This can be done by simply rubbing their cheeks with a sterile cotton swab and sending it off to the lab. However, if your dog is a service animal and can be identified by its breed markings, then this kind of test would violate anonymity laws in some countries.
An animal will have to provide a small blood sample instead of a cheek swab in these cases.
Remember that some breeds may be more challenging to identify than others (ex: mutts).
There are some dog poop DNA test companies that claim they can accurately identify over 200 different types of breeds, but this type of information can only be provided with scientific evidence.
Who Can Perform the Test?
Mixed breed dogs are done by private tests carriers.
The most reputable tests providers include Wisdom Panel and BioPet Vet Lab, both endorsed by veterinarians, scientists, and animal behaviorists.
Because the tests involve examining the genetic markers unique to certain species or parasites, they must be carried out at an accredited lab facility – not your home basement.
How Accurate Is a Dog Poop DNA Test?
You may have found an awesome deal on a DNA test for your pooch, but beware!
There are many tests available that can provide inaccurate results. Specifically, cheek swabs have been shown to produce up to 80% false negatives.
These tests should be used as part of a larger overall dog health assessment (ex: if you think your dog has Lyme Disease), not as the only method for determining breed-related traits or disease risks.
While this kind of testing is still considered experimental, DNA tests are available that will provide accurate results based on scientific evidence.
Why Are Dog Poop DNA Tests Enforced?
Dog breed markers like size, hair color and texture, and body frame can be used to discriminate against certain types of people.
Knowing your dog’s exact breed may not matter much to you regarding their health and well-being – but it does affect where they’re allowed to live in some cases.
Now that you know what poop DNA tests are and why they’re enforced in some areas let’s learn about the law.