Friday, April 24, 2015

Puppy Mill Dogs (and their puppies) Health Problems by Lorie Huston ....

Puppy Mill Dogs (and Puppies) and their Health Problems

In one of my recent posts, Puppy Mills: What Can We Do to Stop Them?, I spoke about a puppy that had been purchased from a typical puppy mill source (i.e. a local pet shop). That puppy had a number of health issues but I declined to go into detail about this individual dog’s health problems because he was simply one example out of so many others. However, one of my readers left a comment suggesting that I should go into details.

Health Problems Are Common in Puppy Mill Puppies and Dogs

I thought a great deal about that comment and considered discussing that one puppy and his puppy mill related health issues. In the end, I decided it might do more good to talk about all of the health issues that are not only possible but common in most, if not all, puppy mill dogs and puppies, rather than concentrating on that one individual dog. The problem goes so much deeper than one dog. Prospective owners need to know that these problems are typical of puppy mill dogs (and puppies) and are frequently seen, not in just one puppy but in the majority of these dogs. In fact, they are more likely to be present than not, in my experience.

Infectious Diseases and Puppy Mills

Infectious diseases are common in puppies that are obtained from puppy mill sources. Infectious diseases that I’ve seen in these puppies include:
  • canine distemper
  • canine parvovirus
  • kennel cough
  • canine adenovirus (infectious hepatitis)
  • leptospirosis
  • intestinal parasites
  • demodectic mange
The symptoms associated with these diseases range from mild and self-limiting to serious and life-threatening. However, when you add in the stress associated with shipping a sick puppy large distances under less than ideal circumstances and less than ideal nutrition and veterinary care previous to the illness, even the diseases that are normally mild can become much more serious for these puppies.

Malnutrition in Puppy Mill Dogs

Lack of proper nutritional support is a serious problem in several different ways. Quite often, the breeding dogs do not receive adequate nutrition. Malnutrition in a pregnant or nursing dog, needless to say, has a direct effect on the health of her puppies. 
In addition, the puppies themselves often do not receive the best nutrition either. After being raised by a mother with a poor nutritional status and then receiving inadequate nutrition themselves, these same puppies are weakened, with an immune system that is not able to function properly, making them even more susceptible to infectious diseases. 

Genetic Defects and Congenital Disease in Puppy Mill Puppies

In a puppy mill environment, there is very rarely a health examination that is performed prior to breeding. Breeding dogs are not screened for the genetic disorders that are common in their breed. No pedigrees are evaluated to determine which dogs are likely to produce superior offspring. The ONLY requirement for breeding in these environments is a male and a female dog. As a result, many of the puppies born have genetic defects and congenital disorders that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Some of those lives will be shorter than necessary as a result of these conditions.
The genetic problems encountered will vary from breed to breed. Some of the common ones that I’ve encountered include hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, cardiomyopathy, patent ductus arteriosis (PDA), undescended testicles, demodectic mange, entropion, and many more. The list goes on and on.

Housing Conditions in Puppy Mills

This doesn’t even address the conditions in which the dogs in these facilities are housed. Often, these dogs are housed on wire flooring, which leads to wounds and sores on the bottom of their feet. 
Further, they are confined in cages that are often so small that the adult dogs cannot even stand and move around comfortably. They receive little to no exercise, which leads not only to health problems but also to emotional problems as well.
These dogs rarely receive adequate veterinary care. They are not vaccinated properly and, depending on the location, may be infested with fleas, ticks, heartworms, intestinal parasites and other problems. 
This is just a quick run-down of some of the problems that I have seen and continue to see in dogs bred in puppy mills. It is not meant to be a complete list, by any means. But I think it should serve to give people considering the purchase of one of these dogs something to think about. And I urge you to remember that if you are considering purchasing a puppy from a pet store, you are almost certainly considering purchasing a puppy produced by a puppy mill.

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