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  • Case of the month - July 16

This month we saw a case that prompted us to think a little about breeding in our pets. Bailey is a young, male Labrador who had been brought in by his owner who has been thinking about using him for breeding.

Having done plenty of research and investigations Bailey’s owner had booked him in for a set of hip and elbow x-rays for scoring under the BVA hip and elbow scheme. This scheme is among many available to prospective dog breeders to look for potentially debilitating inherited diseases which may be passed on to any offspring.

There has been a great deal of criticism in recent years regarding breeding of pets for extreme traits or conformation which may affect their health and ability to lead a normal, comfortable life. We see a huge variety of cat and dog breeds at Oak Barn Vets and sadly our fair share of breed related illness.

Through the efforts of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and the Kennel Club (KC), as well as others, advances are being made to try to address some of these issues but sadly consumer demand and irresponsible breeding continues to hinder progress.

Health schemes such as hip and elbow scoring help to reduce the incidence of orthopaedic disease which can cause painful conditions in often young dogs. Eye schemes are also in place to look for potentially inherited retinal disease and cataracts which can lead to blindness or the need for surgery. Heart scans can pick up on defects before they develop or are potentially passed on to offspring.

Now, with genome work, the ability to carry out genetic testing on DNA from a cheek swab is helping to target specific breed related disorders and new diseases are being identified and tests developed all the time.

All of these schemes have one central fault; they need a responsible breeder to enlist their dog or cat onto them before they consider breeding from them. Sadly, some breeders produce puppies or kittens without much regard for any health problems which they may develop and are motivated purely by financial or other incentives.

If you are considering purchasing a new puppy or kitten it is always worthwhile looking closely into the breed and any potential health schemes which may be in place to help protect them.

Without pressure on breeders to address these issues inherited traits in certain breeds go undetected or worse still are considered “normal” or even “desirable” and the problems continue.

Although the idea of purchasing a pedigree puppy or kitten may seem like a guarantee that you are buying a healthy pet, this is not always the case and may actually increase the likelihood of inherited health problems.

There are many fantastic breeders who have their breed’s best interests at heart and gathering information via the Kennel Club assured breeder scheme can help.

If you are thinking of buying a new puppy or kitten you are welcome to contact us to have a chat regarding health considerations in breeds that you may be considering. It is always worth discussing any concerns in detail with the breeder too as they should be knowledgeable about their breed and open to answer any questions you may have about the parents.

And how did Bailey score with his hip and elbow X-rays?........ A full set of zeros, so full marks! 

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