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Genetic disease is one of the most common preventable causes of illness and emergency visits. Today, breeding a pet comes with more risk and responsibility than ever. Irresponsible breeding leads to more pets suffering from genetic diseases such as heart disease, breathing problems, hip dysplasia and even cancer. How can a pet parent know if they are dealing with an irresponsible breeder? Comment below if you have had to learn the hard way about BAD GENETICS.

1.6 Bad Genetics

This is becoming one of the most common reasons that we see pets in the emergency room. Unfortunately, because the breeding of pets has been unregulated for so long and there are so many people irresponsibly engaging in the breeding of pets, the gene pool is a complete disaster right now. 

In certain breeds, the incidence of genetic inherited disease is higher than 95%, and some of these diseases are really serious, like heart problems, respiratory problems and neurologic problems, but it also includes problems like hip dysplasia and skin allergies.

How can you avoid bad genetics? Don’t buy from a bad breeder.

If you went to buy a car and it looks really nice on the outside and you look under the hood and it’s complete junk… well unfortunately we have a lot of really cute pets running around that on the inside are made up of parts that are just genetically poorly made. Unfortunately, when pet owners go to buy a pet, they don’t know how to look under the hood and see where this was manufactured and how and to make sure that it’s safe. A few years down the road, a lot of them end up in the emergency room with basically the dog and cat equivalents of blown out engines. It’s really sad that a lot of times there’s really not a lot that we can do about this –  it’s too late.

How do you know what a good breeder is?

Well the truth is there aren’t that many good responsible breeders. What it actually takes to be a good breeder is:

  1. Screen the breeding stock for genetic disease. The amount of financial and time investment to screen your breeding stock for all of the inheritable diseases is extremely expensive. To be breeding golden retrievers that means that you’re actually getting hip x-rays done on the adults before you breed them to make sure that you’re not passing hip dysplasia onto the puppies.
  2. Track and eliminate genetic disease. Keep very detailed pedigrees, making sure that if any genetic diseases arise within that breeding stock and that those animals are removed from the breeding program.
  3. Scrutinous about adoptions. Be very scrutinous about who they’re adopting pets out to to make sure that those owners have what it takes to provide a good home for the pet.

You, as the consumers, really need to start holding breeders more accountable for irresponsible breeding and bad genetics if you’re going to buy a purebred. Do as much research as you possibly can about that breed but most importantly you need to know about the inherited genetic diseases that are prevalent in that breed and also the behavioural concerns as well. If you’re going to breed a pet, you need to take a class before you do that and make sure that you fully understand everything that’s involved in breeding pets. You should have the parents tested ahead of time for genetic diseases. If you’re thinking about breeding a pet, ask yourself if you really have what it takes.

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Here are the 3 best pieces of advice from the emergency vet that could save your pet’s life:

1) DON’T WAIT TOO LONG TO GET HELP!

If you wait too long, it could be too late. This is especially true for concerns such as laboured breathing, pale gums and weakness. You know your pet best, so if you are worried or concerned, “when in doubt, check it out!”

2) PREVENT THE PREVENTABLE

Learn as much as possible about dangers that face your pet, such as household poisons, seemingly harmless objects (such as toys, clothing, garbage and rocks), other animals, and vehicles. Pets are like toddlers and they need a responsible adult/babysitter to protect them from danger. Puppies and kittens need to start their vaccines at 8 WEEKS (and they need boosters too!) to protect them from deadly diseases.

3) BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST CASE SCENARIO

Have a plan in place, know your nearest emergency clinic, have the ASPCA phone number on speed dial. Know basic first aid training and CPR. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE FINANCIALLY PREPARED. The cost of medical treatment in an emergency, and the owners’ ability to pay for it, is probably the most important factor that determines whether a pet will receive the medical care it needs. The best way to protect yourself is to have good medical insurance for your pet. Do your research.

**REMEMBER**: WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM, with the best interest of the patient as everyone’s first priority. Let your vet do what he/she does best, and don’t try to grab the steering wheel and obstruct your vet from doing his/her job. We are all in the same car, we are all headed to the same place, but only one of us has the driver’s license (meaning, only the vet has the medical training and background to “drive the car”).

Please remember to spay/ neuter your pet, and to donate to your local animal shelter- they really need your help!

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