The Real Costs of Canine Genetic Testing

I recently overheard two people discussing the cost of raising a dog and genetic testing came up. One comment was: “Do you want to pay now for a healthy puppy or pay a vet later?”. She was referring to the cost of the testing versus the cost of paying for the long-term healthcare of a dog with an inherited disease.

In actuality, the cost of genetic testing may be less than the cost you would pay for a tooth cleaning or other routine, preventative care for your dogs. However, the genetic testing will last a lifetime and shouldn’t have to be repeated if performed in a reputable laboratory. Knowing the genetic profile of your dog will help you plan on whether you put the cost and time into training the dog and deciding if this dog is the right dog for you. Genetic testing can improve the life of your dog by identifying problems early and allowing you to provide the best care for your dog now and in the future.

Let’s take an example and walk through the health issues and costs. Hyperuricosuria, also known as urolithiasis, is a disease that affects at least 14 different breeds of dogs. Affected dogs develop bladder stones that may cause pain or blockage and might need to be removed.

Estimated costs of treating hyperuricosuria include: the initial costs associated with the work up of the disease when symptoms occur ($50-$65), pre-surgical radiographs to identify the stones ($150-$225), blood work and urine analysis ($150-$200), urine culture and antibiotic sensitivity screen ($100-$150), cystotomy ($800-$1,500), and antibiotics and pain medication ($50-$225), for a total, estimated cost of $1,300 to $2,365.

Because there is a recurrence rate post surgery for new stones to form (about 36 percent the first year after surgery), there are yearly costs including the ongoing cost of prescription food ($785-$1100 per year) to reduce the formation of stones and a veterinarian’s examination, including radiographs, every 6-12 months ($200-$290 per visit) with a total, annual estimate cost of $415-$935, which does not include the costs of surgery if the stones were to reoccur.

Because this disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion, meaning that two copies of the mutation are needed to produce the condition, the carriers of the gene mutation do not show symptoms, but when bred with another carrier, they may produce affected puppies.  Puppy buyers don’t need to know all of genetic diseases than can affect dogs because they can now perform a low cost genetic screen to identify these inherited risks.

Hyperuricosuria is just one of more than 150 tests found on the Canine HealthCheckTM. Thus, if your dog was found to have this condition, the costs for disease diagnosis is quite large compared to the $129.95 per dog to test for genetic mutations, which allows for early intervention to prevent the symptoms.  Any dog, purebred or mixed breed, can benefit from the Canine HealthCheck.  Once ordered online, the kit contains everything that you need to better understand the genetic health of your dog. Simply activate the kit, swab your dog and return the samples in the prepaid mailer. Within 7-10 business days, you will have a better knowledge of the genetic health of your dog. You can share your results with your veterinarian and put a health plan together to help ensure a long, healthy life with your dog.

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