Questions for ‘What we can — and can’t — learn from our pets’ DNA’


This is Sweetie when she was a young dog. Is she part greyhound? Part Labrador? Her owner gave her a DNA test to find out. (A doggie friend digs in the background.)

L. Gunter; adapted by L. Steenblik Hwang

To accompany feature “What we can — and can’t — learn from our pets’ DNA”


Before Reading:

1.  Do you or does someone you know have a pet? Describe this pet.

2.  Has anyone in your family taken an at-home genetic test? What did they learn?

During Reading:

1.  What is DNA?

2.  What sorts of information can we learn about our pets from their DNA?

3.  What do many genetic tests for pets search for? What is one drawback of such tests?

4.  What is a genome?

5.  Why does geneticist Elinor Karlsson study dog genomes?

6.  How are researchers like Karlsson tying pet behavior with genetics?

7.  What is disease risk? What is the difference between this risk and the actual disease?

8.  Why are scientists interested in using DNA tests to study animals’ disease risk?

9.  What can’t pet DNA tests tell us about our pets?

10.  After testing a pet’s DNA for disease risks, what should be an owner’s next step?

After Reading:

1.  Would you test your pet’s DNA? What would you want to learn and why?

2.  The story explains that genetic tests for pets are not currently regulated by the government. Should that change? Explain your answer using evidence from the story.