Cheek Swab Collection Guidelines

Cheek Swab Collection Kit Policy

U.S. and Canadian Clients

Paw Print Genetics will ship a collection kit containing one of our preferred swabs directly to you if you are ordering from within the United States or Canada. Kits shipped from Paw Print Genetics include labels with all of the relevant information for each dog, conveniently providing you with appropriate sample identification and sample tracking.

International Clients

International clients (those outside of the United States and Canada) must provide their own cheek swab collection kits. Any cheek swabs you provide must meet the criteria outlined below.

Paw Print Genetics Swabbing Instructions

Kits from Paw Print Genetics will include a swab attached to a tube containing a purple DNA stabilization solution and a label. After you swab your dog, you will unscrew the cap and place the swab into the solution, tighten the cap and invert 10 times. You will then affix the label to the swab tube. Please contact us if you have any questions about the following detailed instructions.

  1. Print the Requisition Form for you order.
    To find your requisition, go to the 'My Orders' page, find your order from the list, then click the 'Requisition' button under the 'Download' section.
  2. Please review and correct any errors or omissions. Include a copy of the requisition with your samples.
  3. Remove the sterile swab from its protective packaging. Be very careful to not let anything touch the tip of the sponge.
  4. Insert the sponge between your dog's cheek and gum. Press gently to the outside, rub and roll against the cheek, while also collecting saliva for 30 seconds. Assistance with your dog is encouraged during collection.

  5. Hold the tube upright and unscrew the cap from the tube. Tube contains stabilizing liquid, do NOT spill.

  6. Turn the cap upside down and insert the oral sponge fully into the tube. Screw cap on tightly to prevent liquid sample from leaking during transport.

  7. Invert the tube 10 times to thoroughly mix the sample.

  8. Locate the label provided with the kit. Affix the label to the length of the collection tube.

  9. NOTE: Complete the sample collection and sample labeling process for each dog before proceeding to the next collection. Wash hands between dogs.
  10. Place the collected sample into the collection device sleeve and then into the specimen bag provided, along with a printed copy of your requisition form, and seal bag. Then insert into the provided return envelope and mail back as soon as possible.

  11. NOTE: IF you require any changes to your dog’s information, please make those changes on the requisition and return the form with your sample.
  12. If you are shipping from outside of the United States, please follow our US Customs Instructions.
  13. Mail your samples back to our lab using one of the following addresses:

    • For shipments via USPS
    • Paw Print Genetics
    • PO Box 28250
    • Spokane, WA 99228-8250
    • USA
    • For overnight and 2 day shipments via (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.)
    • Paw Print Genetics
    • 10220 N. Nevada St., Suite 300
    • Spokane, WA 99218
    • USA

    • Canadian Shipments
    • Neogen
    • 7323 Roper Rd. NW
    • Edmonton, AB T6E 0W4
    • Canada

Downloadable Instruction Sheet

Tips for Obtaining the Best Possible Sample

  1. If possible, puppies should be weaned prior to obtaining samples due to potential contamination from the mother's cells. Do not provide food for the puppies
    • If the puppies have not been weaned, separate the puppies from the mother and each other for at least one hour prior to swabbing and rinse each puppy's mouth with water.
  2. Do not let dogs eat for at least one hour, or drink for 10 minutes, prior to swabbing.
  3. For at least an hour prior to swabbing, the dog should be isolated from toys or other objects that are shared by multiple dogs. Inspect your dog's mouth to ensure there are no food particles or other material and rinse your dog's mouth if needed.
  4. When swabbing multiple dogs, be careful to avoid touching the inside of any dog's mouth with your own hands. Wash your hands between swabbing dogs.
  5. Once a swab has been removed from its packaging, never touch the swab to anything other than the inside of the dog's mouth.
  6. Swabbing the dog's mouth is a simple but critical step.
    • Keep the sponge in the mouth of the dog for as close to 30 seconds as possible.
    • The longer you are able to keep the sponge in the dog's mouth, the better chance you have of collecting more cells which means more DNA will be available to us for testing.
    • Short 5-10 second collection times may not be enough time to collect sufficient cells and saliva.
    • Once the sponge is in the dog's mouth, swirl and twist the sponge while applying gentle pressure on the outside of the cheek, and in the cheek pouch, to help the sponge collect more cells.
  7. Immediately after using the swab, carefully return it to its original packaging and label it appropriately with the provided label.
  8. The cap may be tight, so using pliers may be helpful to loosen the cap.
  9. Be prepared to ship your samples on the same day or the next day in which you collect the samples.
  10. Do not freeze or refrigerate samples prior to shipping. Do NOT use dry ice, regular ice, or cold packs when shipping your samples. Moisture can promote bacterial growth. Keeping the samples cool and dry is ideal.
  11. Do not scrape your dog’s teeth with the sponge or allow your dog to chew or bite on the sponge.

Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Image sources: © DNA Genotek, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cheek Swab Criteria

Paw Print Genetics accepts cheek swabs purchased from a variety of venders so long as they meet the following criteria:

  1. A minimum of three swabs per dog.
  2. Swabs have a cotton, polyester, nylon or brush-type (histobrush or cytobrush) tip.
  3. The swab is not contained in transport or sterile media.

Although we have successfully extracted sufficient DNA from a variety of the most common, commercially available collection kits, there is a risk that certain swab types which have not been validated by our laboratory will perform poorly and may require a new sample.

Careful adherence to the Cheek Swab Sample Collection Instructions is the most critical element to obtaining the best possible sample regardless of the swab type used and will help minimize the possibility of failure due to variability in the collection kits.

To do this, simply use at least three swabs on your dog, one at a time. For each swab, insert between the cheek and gum, press gently to the outside, rub and roll for a slow count of 30. Repeat with the other swabs.

Purchasing Cheek Swabs

Paw Print Genetics prefers that clients providing their own swabs use one of the following:

  • GUM® Proxabrush® Go-Betweens® Cleaners, Wide (link)
  • Puritan sterile swabs (link)

Many other types of swabs are acceptable to submit. If you are unsure about your type of swabs, please contact us.