Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Be An Informed Owner

Since we discussed arthritis last week, I thought this would be a good time to remind perspective puppy owners to consider potential problems when interviewing  your breeder.  We all instantly fall in love with that cute little eight-week-old, but we must remember that before we take that pup home, we want to minimize future health issues.  What it all comes down to is researching and knowing the breed you want before you see the puppy.  For breeds that are prone to hip and elbow displasia, you want to ask the breeder for the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) test results (  If the parents have bad hips, then the likelihood is high that the offspring will also have poor hips.  If the parents have allergies, the offspring have an increased likelihood of developing allergies.

By researching the breed of dog you want, you can learn which diseases to check for and which breeds commonly have tests for them.  As an example, when I looked at a litter of Golden Retriever puppies, I asked about the OFA status of the hips and elbows as well as whether the eyes had been examined by an ophthalmologist to be sure they were free of congenital abnormalities.  Many good Golden Retriever breeders will have the thyroid tested and heart checked for congenital abnormalities.  I also ask about allergies.  These answers will not guarantee health, but will lessen the chances that my little one will develop these problems in the future.  Also, don't forget to consider the mother's behavioral disposition.  A less trusting, fearful mother will likely have cautious pups.  So, enjoy the pup you get, but make sure you try to avoid the common issues your special breed may acquire. 

"What it all comes down to is researching
and knowing the breed you want before
you see the puppy."

Todd Whitney, DVM

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