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A Swab Surprise is the Perfect Holiday Gift for the Dog Lover in Your Life


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What’s better than unwrapping a holiday gift to find out it’s a dog DNA test for your beloved pup? Finding out you already have your dog’s DNA answers and can start exploring their breed mix, health results, and relatives!

This year, take the waiting period out of the process with a Swab Surprise. Give the dog lover in your life something they won’t expect—their dog’s DNA test results. If you plan ahead, you can get their dog tested in advance so that you can all unwrap the results together. 

All you have to do is order your Embark kit, swab the dog’s cheek, and send it back to Embark by mid-November. You can expect to receive results around mid-December.

Please note: A swab surprise works best with a dog you know and love! Make sure the family member you’re surprising would be excited about getting the dog’s results and be sure to swab the dog you know safely. Learn more about safe swabbing here! 

Why a Swab Surprise is a great holiday gift

If you have a dog owner in your life, you’ll know that dogs are not just pets; they’re family members. As dog lovers, we want to do everything we can to make sure our dogs lead long, happy, healthy lives. A DNA test is just the first step. 

An Embark Breed + Health Kit enables dog owners to learn not only about their dog’s breed mix and ancestry, but also about any health conditions to look out for. Knowing about genetic health risks can help owners be proactive about care, which could mean changes to diet, exercise, or more frequent screenings for certain diseases. In fact, 37% of dog owners report their dog’s care after getting their results. DNA test results can even be potentially life-saving for some dogs.

With a Swab Surprise, you can give the gift of answers and actionable health results to discuss with their veterinarian in the New Year.

A medium sized brown dog wearing a yellow collar getting his saliva swabbed

How to do a Swab Surprise

Follow these steps to keep your gift a secret until the big day:

  1. First, order your Breed + Health Kit or Breed Identification Kit from Embark. Once your kit arrives, remove the swab from the package.
  2. The trickiest part of doing a Swab Surprise is swabbing the dog when the owner isn’t looking! You’ll need at least 30 seconds of uninterrupted time, so try to do it when the owner has left the room for a few minutes. Just follow the easy steps in our guide to how to swab your dog, put the swab in the collection tube, and screw the cap on.
  3. Shake the tube for 10 seconds, then hide it in your pocket before the owner returns.
  4. Before you send the swab back to us, you’ll need to activate your kit. Use your own email address to sign up, and create a password that you can later share with the owner.
  5. Mail the sample back to Embark, following the instructions in the kit. Results should be ready in 2–4 weeks.
  6. When you get the dog’s results, save them until the holiday. Read on for some ideas about how to “wrap” the results for the big day.
  7. Once you surprise the owner with their dog’s DNA test results, you can transfer the Embark account to them by going to Settings and replacing your email address with theirs. Learn more about how to transfer accounts here.

Follow @embarkvet on Instagram for more Swab Surprise ideas.

How to wrap—and unwrap—the results

This is the chance to tap into your creative side. Here are a few ways you can present the DNA test results for the owner to unwrap. Do you have more ideas? Let us know! 

  • If you want to give a physical gift, you can print the dog’s breed certificate, frame it, and wrap it. In the dog’s Embark profile, scroll down to Print or Download Results and click the Certificate. You can also download the full breed report or health report.
  • Frame a favorite photo of the dog, or of the owner and the dog together. Print out the dog’s Embark certificate and slide it underneath the photo. Have the owner open the frame and reveal the surprise!
  • If you have an artistic streak, consider drawing, painting, or crocheting a portrait of their dog, then attach the certificate to the portrait.
  • Cue up a doggy-themed playlist to play as they unwrap the results, featuring songs like I Love My Dog by Sublime and Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine.

  • If you have extra time and want to go above and beyond, take inspiration from breed reveal parties. Fill a box with balloons featuring photos of the different dog breeds in your dog’s breed mix, add the certificate to the box, then wrap that box.

  • Use a gift wrapping app to “wrap” the digital gift.

  • If you won’t be spending the holiday with the owner in person, you can email the results to them for a surprise in their inbox that holiday morning. To do that, click the Share Now button above the dog’s Genetic Stats.

Happy Howl-idays

Now that your gift is ready to go, you can spend the holidays exploring their dog’s DNA results together, or finding their dog’s extended family members to reconnect with!

(If you’re a last-minute shopper, giving a dog DNA test is the next best thing.)

Find more vet-approved dog gifts and gift ideas for the dog mom in your life.

Mimi Padmabandu Contributor

Mimi Padmabandu is a scientific writer and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She has over a decade of experience writing about science and genomics for leading biotechnology companies. She holds a bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London.

Read more about Mimi Padmabandu

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