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Breed -specific veterinary medicine: well care programs for pets

Aug 17

Categories: Blog

Ever wonder if your pet is at risk for certain diseases, medication reactions, allergy, arthritis, heart diseases, and more? Medical needs vary among the 185 + breeds and varieties of dogs and many breeds of cats. Hard to imagine the needs of a toy poodle would be the same as a Great Dane! So at Animal Health Care of Marlboro we have implemented breed specific wellness which we feel will improve our pet patient care, help strengthen the bond between owners and pets, and enhance the well being of the pets in our care.

Cats are not small dogs and have their own particular medical, dental, surgical, and behavioral needs. Breed specific wellness is a philosophical approach to veterinary medicine. Preventative breed specific well care targets breeds at risk and sets up screening for disease and problems not waiting until the pets have these problems. We want to be proactive rather than reactive in our approach to well care and that involves targeting our specific audience of breeds to enhance their wellness.  Unlike law enforcement, we firmly believe in (breed) profiling:)

Many people are aware of hip dysplasia in German shepherd dogs but many other breeds: both big and small dogs and even cats can be genetically predisposed: a survey Xray of the hips at 6 months of age can identify many at risk before they're fully grown. Heart disease is common in Doberman pinschers as is a very specific blood clotting problem: blood testing can help identify those at dogs: kinda of good to know and prepare before they're being operated for their spay or neuter; don't you think? Persian cats are prone to cystic kidney disease: urine monitoring can catch early changes for diet, supplements, and medication needs to slow progression of kidney disease and/or failure.

We try to learn the health problems of specific breeds almost from the first veterinary visit: we have genetics and breed books that allow us to plan monitoring throughout the lives of our pets. These resources are crucial because there is no way we're going to remember each breed with specific risks and leave this daunting task to memory. Often, professional breeders know their breeds better than most veterinarians ever will and can be a very valuable resource: yes, we do listen and take notice of what runs in certain purebred family lines.

Most congenital or inherited problems manifest before the age of 5 years so we try to discuss with pet parents the risks and monitoring events that would be most beneficial for their breeds.  But we don't neglect life stage risks either: we consider pediatric, prime, adult, senior and geriatric stages of life to have unique needs as well. And, we don't forget about our mixed breeds either. It is usually stated that mixed breeding imparts hybrid vigor or reduction in breed specific diseases. Or, commonly presented that mixed breeds are healthier than purebred breeds but until recently we did just that, assume. Now with genetic testing such as the WISDOM panel we can identify breeds in the mix and plan a better health care course.

We feel it's important to teach our pet parents about their pets predispositions. We are all influenced by our genetics and our environments which vary markedly. When we as veterinarians and as part of the veterinary health care team  start looking more closely at the breed risk factors we can  give our pet owners more information about their breed(s). That being said we also aim to present a consistent well care protocol for all pets as specific to the individual pet in the particular family situation. We know as the family lives change our recommendations may also change to better fit the needs of our furry kids. We focus on the life stage, life specific and life specialty of our patients.

We are happy to deliver breed -specific advice and well care either as a pre -purchase consultation or as your pet veterinary health care team during each and every visit with your pet.