Dogs are amongst the most popular types of animal in homes across the UK, with everything from Labradors to Cocker Spaniels, Chihuahuas to Border Collies forming part of the family unit. The population of these furry friends reached an estimated 13 million in 2020/21 and there was a clear surge in people buying and caring for animals during the lockdown. There were a variety of reasons for this, ranging from the changing working conditions to the urge to help combat loneliness during this time.
While this is viewed as a positive thing, there are some factors that owners may not be aware of when it comes to the type of health issues certain breeds are prone to. Here’s what you need to know about some of the most popular dog breeds in the UK.
- German Shepherds: These large dogs are more likely to develop conditions like cataracts, cardiomyopathy and skin allergies compared to other breeds. Plus, can be born with hip dysplasia and unless you choose a good breeder, there’s a risk that you could be given a puppy with this condition.
- Bulldogs: Breeding patterns have caused many bulldogs to develop thinner nostrils and smaller airways, which can lead to respiratory issues and long-term health conditions.
- Pugs: These brachycephalic dogs are prone to developing breathing problems associated with dogs that have flat faces. There is also a risk of pugs developing dermatitis and eye infections.
- Labrador Retrievers: The large amount of exercise required to keep labs healthy means they are prone to obesity. Owners are encouraged to feed them a healthy diet and ensure they’re well-exercised.
- Dachshunds: Due to their long backs, dachshunds are at risk of painful spinal issues or even neurological problems that need surgical intervention. There’s also a risk of them developing Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), which can impact their ability to walk.
How can I reduce the risk of health problems?
There are plenty of ways to reduce your dog’s risk of health issues. Follow the below to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
- Regular visits to the veterinarian: taking your pup for regular visits to the vet to keep tabs on their general health is one of the best things you can build into your routine. This way, professionals will be able to spot signs before they become too serious. If you notice that your dog appears to be in pain, this could also signal that a trip to the vet is needed.
- Feed them well: Diet can be an important factor in maintaining good health in dogs. Your pup’s diet should be high in protein and fibre to help keep them strong and the amount you feed them will depend upon their size and how active they are. You should also be aware of any allergies or stomach issues your dog has, as certain dogs may have dietary requirements that mean nutritional sensitive dog food is a better option than others.
- Hydrate!: Keeping your dog hydrated is just as important as keeping them well fed. Make sure they have access to plenty of water throughout the day.
- Regular exercise: It’s important to keep your dog fit by taking them on regular walks, especially if they are a larger dog. Regular exercise can help prevent obesity and cardiovascular and digestive problems. Failure to take your dog on a walk daily can have devastating impacts on their weight gain and can subsequently cause many health issues, such as arthritis. A short walk a day will help reduce the likelihood of these health issues. As well as this, dogs love walkies, so it will keep them happy and excited too!
- Stay up-to-date with vaccinations: Keeping your dog up to date with vaccinations is one of the best ways to prevent them from catching harmful diseases such as Bordatella, heartworms and Lyme disease. Many veterinary practitioners also send out annual reminders via e-mail or text message for your dog’s boosters.
- Parasite prevention: Parasites are pesky organisms that can decrease the quality of your dog’s life and health. Common parasites include intestinal worms, heartworms, fleas and ticks. Parasite prevention is quick and easy, either in the form of a tablet or injection.
- Lots of love and hugs: Emotional well-being is important to dogs, just like humans. Ensuring they have a safe environment with a routine and plenty of cuddles and kisses can help keep them happy and reduce any stress.
Dogs are a human’s best friend and it’s important to be aware of common health issues related to certain breeds and how you can best keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Follow the advice in this article and you will be giving your pup the best opportunity to have a happy, healthy and long life.