Thursday, 5 January 2012

Good dog health, good genes?

I wouldn’t change Millie my Labrador, for the world, but over the last four years, I have spent a lot of money at the vets including:
·      £250 identifying allergies.
·      £400 for a trip to the emergency vet, plus x-rays for a stomach bug.
·      £200 treating kennel cough.
·      £200 investigating a eye condition,
·      £200 investigating a hip and joint condition.
·      £300 treating ear infections.

This doesn’t include including all the little day-to-day illnesses, cracked claws, grass seeds in the eye and the occasional muscle sprain.

Don’t let me give you the impression if you get a dog, you will spend most of your time and hard earned cash at the vets. Some of Millie’s aliments are down to bad luck. But I certainly could saved money and a lot of pacing at the vets, by researching, some of the conditions which affect Labradors, and by being smarter when I bought my puppy.

When you are looking to buy a puppy; you will see lots of different adverts, with varying levels of information. Adverts will contain phrases like; puppies are vet checked, living in a house with children, KC registered.  A good breeder should provide information about the health of the parents of the puppy.  

This will probably take the form of some confusing letters and numbers. These letters and numbers will help you to understand the likelihood of your puppies carrying a genetic condition.
Below are examples of the sorts of letters and numbers you will see; one from the mum of some cocker spaniel puppies and the father of some Labrador pups:

prcd-PRA (DNA) : Carrier
FN DNA Test : Clear
Glaucoma : Clear 26/03/08
GPRA-rcd1 : clear 25/08/09
Hips 6:5
Elbows 0:0

Current Clear BVA Eye Certificate

Optigen tested Normal/Clear for prcd1-PRA

Unfortunately, I didn’t look for this information when I bought Millie and her parents had not been health tested.  Some of the money I have spent on Millie’s health has been investigating conditions.  If we had known more about the health of her parents, the vets would have been able to make more informed judgements about Millie.

Different breeds of dog are affected by different conditions, and you will need to research the breed you are interested in and the conditions that can affect it. If you talk to your vet, they can help you translate those tricky letters and numbers.

You may find you will probably pay more for puppies, where the breeder has carried out health testing.  But as you can see from the costs of investigations I have had to carry out on Millie, it can be money well spent.

Some sources of information on common conditions.
Hip Dysplasia is condition which can affect the hip joints of dogs.
Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy  an eye condition, leading to blindness.
I am not an expert in dog behaviour or health issues. These are my own views, please talk to your vet or experts such as the Kennel Club, to find out more about any of the above issues.

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