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Who's Blu? Swabbing A Dog's Inner Cheek For A DNA Test (VIDEO)

By Alisa Hauser | August 23, 2017 5:25am
 Blu gets his cheek swabbed.
Blu DNA test: The Cheek Swab
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Editor's note: DNAinfo reporter Alisa Hauser recently had a DNA test on her dog, Blu. In part one, she described why she had the test done and what she knew about Blu from his adoption at PAWS. Below, in part two, Alisa describes how the DNA testing kit worked.

WICKER PARK — The envelope and DNA testing kit from Orivet Genetic Pet Care arrived in the mail.

The instructions described how to swab the inside of Blu's cheek, using a mascara-wand-like bristle, rotating it for about 15 seconds while pinching his cheek around the bristle.

Blu is not a fan of having foreign objects inserted into his mouth.

"Pinch and swirl for about 15 seconds" sounds so easy, right?

But what if I screwed it up?

Would Blu sit still? Would he accidentally bite my finger? Would he survive two rotations, much less 15 and then multiply that by three for a total of 45 turns of the inner-cheek bristles? The kit contained three bristles and required all three to be used.

Blu knows when his heartworm pill is tucked into a beef-flavored treat.

He knows that when a latex glove is pulled out of a box in the kitchen drawer, it is time to scurry for cover under the bed, to avoid the anti-flea and tick gel soon to be applied to his shoulder blades and down his spine.

To increase the chances for success with the at-home DNA collection kit, I reached out to Dr. Jacob Cohen of Wicker Park Veterinary, who is Blu's primary vet.

At his office, Cohen expertly swabbed Blu's inner cheek while I did about the only thing I am capable of not screwing up at, which is "documenting."

In a short video interview, Cohen said DNA test kits for dogs and cats, in general, are "a lot of fun" and "often surprisingly accurate."

He cautioned, "Some people get frustrated when the dogs are so mixed up and the parents are so mixed up, that sometimes the tests don't give you the best results." 

Here, Cohen swabs Blu's inner cheek for the third time:


The cheek swab. #dogsofinstagram #orivet

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After leaving Cohen's office, 1166 N. Milwaukee Ave., Blu and I walked to the post office branch at 1240 N. Ashland Ave. 

I mailed the kit to Orivet's Ramsey, New Jersey lab.

The instructions said it would take about two weeks for the results to come back, via email.

I can't wait!

On June 9, I mailed the sealed swabs back to Orivet and affixed the bar code used to seal the swabs in a personalized medical brochure for Blu Hauser that I will keep.

PART 1: How I Used  A DNA Test To Discover My Dog's Past.

Coming Thursday: The Results Are In