The Relative Finder tool


Jenna Dockweiler, MS DVM, DACT, CCRT, CVAT and Lindsey Kock, DVM, walkthrough the Relative Finder tool and why it's so popular among pet owners.

Sponsored by Embark

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: I want to talk about something that I think is really exciting too, which is the Relative Finder and that's a popular tool. So share with us a little bit about that.

Jenna Dockweiler, MS DVM, DACT, CCRT, CVAT: Absolutely. All the Embark tested dogs have the ability to participate in relative finders. So clients do have to opt-in in order for their dogs to be found on the relative finder platform, but we can assign as related as human siblings or mother, daughter, or cousins, or whatever, based on the amount of shared DNA that those two patients have. And we've seen people use it, you know, obviously, for fun. People like to get their dogs together, especially if they're from an unknown background for playdates, just to meet up, all that sort of thing. But we've also seen it kind of have some health implications as well.

When you and I go to the doctor, the first thing that they ask us about is, of course, it’s going to be our family history, which a lot of these dogs just don't have, or it's not known. So, for example, we did have a couple of Pitty mixes who found each other through our Relative Finder platform and one of those dogs has pretty severe canine hip dysplasia, which is of course a very complex trait. There are a lot of genetic mutations, likely, most unknown, and also the environment that will lead to its development. But now, the brother of that dog is on some joint supplements, kind of as a preventative measure to hopefully prevent him from getting arthritis if he is also afflicted with canine hip dysplasia. We've also seen a cute story of a dog that had progressive retinal atrophy and was starting to show signs of vision loss. That family actually adopted another dog to be that first dog's companion as she lost her sight and they turned out to be full siblings.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Oh my gosh. That is so sweet. I mean, before all this came out, I remember seeing Facebook groups letting people know that, “my dog has progressive retinal atrophy. If anybody in the area knows, I adopted this dog at this location at this time and because I just want to give you the heads up.” What does that mean to you as a veterinarian when you hear something like that? I know we were just talking beforehand about our own dogs too. It's nice to know that there's some of that lineage that's around.

Lindsey Kock, DVM: It is. It's great to know from a health perspective, but likewise, I was just talking about the story of my own dog who was tested and unfortunately passed away last spring, and just the ability to be able to kind of follow along that lineage to understand more about your pet. We talked about the human-animal bond. There's so much we can learn by knowing how our pets are connected. And especially, I think it's fun with mixed breed dogs where you may have adopted a pet from a shelter in the area. I've known multiple people that have gotten together for playdates with their dog and really been able to learn more about them. It just enriches their pet's lives and gets them out and be social. And it's a really fun part of it.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: It really is. Talking about the human animal bond, there are so many videos on social media, just exactly what you're talking about, Lindsay, where they heard that there was a half brother that someone's around and they had this meetup group and then you hear them sharing stories like “do they like to snuggle on the blankets too? Are they a picky eater?” Like just sharing that story elevates the human animal bond in such a beautiful way and it really warms my heart. I love that. I'm sure you hear that on your end, right?

Jenna Dockweiler, MS DVM, DACT, CCRT, CVAT: Oh yeah, it's really sweet.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: It's so, so sweet.

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