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What to Know About Purebred Vs Mutt Health, Life Expectancy, and More!

Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know

There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!

Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs

  • Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
  • OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
  • Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!

Benefits of Purebred Dogs

One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.

  • Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
  • You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
  • Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.

Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences

When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.

So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).

What does this mean?

In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.

Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.

Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy

Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.

  • Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
  • Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
  • The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!

In Conclusion

Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!

Flea & Tick Prevention

Flea & Tick PreventionWe know you think your pup is pretty great…and we would agree! What we can also agree on is how not-so-great fleas and ticks are, and how much they like to attack our furry family members!

There is nothing more unnerving than finding a flea or tick on your pet. Suddenly every dusty corner, every patch of grass or couch cushion could be the new home to these nasty parasites, who are waiting for their next meal…this is the worst! Unfortunately, one of their favorite homesteads is the silky and warm fur of our beloved furry family members.

With the serious health risks associated with fleas and ticks that can affect your pet – and even your family – it’s important to protect your pet all year long. In addition to causing an incessant itching, flea bites can cause dermatitis, anemia, and can even result in permanent hair loss or other skin problems as a result of all the scratching by your pet. Ticks can carry an array of diseases including Lyme disease, which can cause arthritis and painful joint issues. So as the saying goes, “prevention is the best medicine” for sure!

Tips & Tricks: How to Keep Parasites Away From Your Pet

The first and most important step is to keep your pet protected with a flea and tick preventative year-round. In Arizona, there is no such thing as ‘flea and tick season’, so keeping them protected year-round is your best bet. Our veterinarians work with you to prescribe the right preventative for you and your pet, whether it be chewable, non-chewable, or topical protection methods. The preventative medications kill adult fleas, ticks, and any larvae present as well as continue to protect until the next dose is due. Talk with us at your next appointment about what medication will work best for your pet.

So You Found a Flea or Tick: What Now?

If you have started a flea and tick preventative because you already found a flea and or tick in your home or on your pet, it is highly recommended to consult an exterminator that can come treat your home and yard for parasites. It’s important to keep the rest of your pets – and family members – protected.

Check Expiry Dates

If you have flea and tick medications sitting in your cabinet that have expired, it’s time to throw them out! When the drug is administered past the expiration date, the true effectiveness of the medication decreases and puts your pup at risk of attracting fleas and ticks.

Outdoor Prevention

We all know that dogs love playing outside, and anytime your pet is exposed to an area that may harbor fleas and ticks, make sure to check your pup’s skin, ears, and armpits for these pests.  If you end up finding any fleas and ticks on their skin or suspected bites, contact us immediately.

Wellness Exams

Make sure your dog gets regular check-ups – both from us and from you! During their annual wellness exam with our team, we examine them for any parasites to ensure the preventative being used is working as expected. This allows us to detect any problems in a timely manner and provide any treatment if needed. Throughout the course of the year, make sure you are also taking the time to check your furry friend on a regular basis (run your hands slowly and thoroughly across the skin surface and throughout the hair of your pet at least once a month). It just takes a few minutes!

Prevention is a Must

Ultimately, fleas and ticks can be scary to your dog’s health and well-being. Fortunately, flea and tick prevention medications are readily available to help protect your furry family member from these nasty critters. For more information and to talk about what prevention method would be best for your individual pet, don’t hesitate to ask us at your next appointment. As your trusted partners in pet healthcare, we are here to help you give your pet a long, happy, and healthy life!

Heartworm 101

Heartworm preventionAs residents of Arizona, it once seemed that heartworm disease was not a big problem for our furry family members. It was easy for us to assume our furry family members are protected from heartworm disease since mosquitos are typically found in wet climates. However, the fact is that heartworm cases have increased exponentially over the last several years, having been documented in all 50 states – including a record of 397 positive cases right here in Maricopa County in 2018. With this in mind, we wanted to share some information about heartworm disease in order to help you make informed decisions on these important areas that impact the health and wellness of your pet.

What exactly is heartworm disease? Heartworm is a serious parasitic disease found primarily in dogs and cats. In reality, we are talking about actual worms, and potentially many of them (up to several hundred!). The worms can be up to a foot-long and live directly within the heart or the neighboring large blood vessels for years. As heartworm disease advances, it can result in a myriad of health complications for our pets including severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and can even be fatal.

How does a pet get heartworm? All it takes is a bite from a mosquito that is carrying the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is a carrier of the disease, which is why prevention is the best protection we can give to our pets.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease? Although there are minimal symptoms in the beginning stages, the longer the infection is present the more likely symptoms will arise. The most common symptoms are coughing, fatigue and decreased appetite. Because symptoms are usually well hidden in the early stages, prevention is key to help avoid the life-long impact that heartworm disease can have on our pets.

How do we prevent heartworm disease? Heartworm prevention is as easy as a monthly oral or topical medication that you can pick up at your next appointment. Heartworm medications cannot prevent infection from occurring but instead treats the disease by clearing out any existing heartworm larvae that were transmitted since their last monthly treatment. We also recommend an annual blood test to help ensure that the preventative is working as expected. With an annual test at our hospital combined with your commitment to providing the monthly preventatives at home, we have the best shot of protecting your pet from this preventable disease.

Why you should incorporate a heartworm preventative into your pet’s wellness plan:
We understand that adding a heartworm preventative can feel like a big step, adding a little bit of expense and time each month. However,
prevention is incredibly easy in comparison to the alternative – once your pet is infected with heartworms, treatment is costly and difficult for both you, and especially, your pet. Treatment includes antibiotics, steroids, preventatives, and monthly injections to kill the adult worms, as well as hospitalization for your pet, and ongoing treatment and testing.

Talk with us at your next appointment for more information on the preventative options for your pet. As always, we’re here to be your trusted partner to help ensure that your pet’s healthcare plan provides them with a happy and healthy life by your side! Find an AZPetVet location near you.

Your Pet Probably Has Dental Disease

Pet dental disease is the most common and preventable health condition for pets. They start out with beautiful, shiny white teeth. But by age three, nearly 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of dental disease. This can lead to more severe health problems.

Pets need dental care just like people. Without regular cleanings, plaque begins to build up on the teeth. Plaque is a nasty, sticky film caused by bacteria in the mouth. As plaque forms on the teeth, it irritates the gum tissue, causing red or swollen gums. Eventually, minerals in the saliva will harden the plaque into tartar.

Bacteria and plaque build-up on your pet’s teeth that isn’t removed through at-home brushings will mean bad breath and tartar are definitely in your pet’s future. Regular dental cleanings by veterinary professionals can reduce your pet’s risk for developing gingivitis, a painful inflammation of the gums, periodontal disease, and avoid tooth loss. Pets with periodontal disease are at risk for developing heart, liver or kidney disease .

if your pet has bad breath, red or swollen gums, missing, loose or cracked teeth or has experienced a recent change in appetite or trouble eating, it’s time for a trip to AZPetVet.

Find an AZPetVet location near you.

New Year Pet Health Check-Up

It’s a fresh new year, so it’s the perfect time to do a little new year pet health check-up on all things related to your pets. The theme is clean, clear and up-to-date, so let’s dig into our new year’s pet health check-up list!

1/ Schedule an annual check-up. Annual wellness exams can help prevent chronic health problems like diabetes as well as common communicable diseases. Your pet will be carefully examined from top to tail, including teeth. Pets will receive any needed vaccinations and boosters, plus flea and/or heart worm medications. If it’s been a while since your pet has seen the vet, don’t wait. Make an appointment today!

2/ Clean, Repair or Replace Worn Toys. Take a few minutes to sort through your pet’s toys. While every pet has their favorites, some toys can become choking hazards. Repair or replace anything with torn seams, visible stuffing or that’s just become gross. Some plush toys are washable. Make a habit to regularly wash them along with your pet’s bedding. Dogs also seem to collect old bones and chews. Quietly dispose of any with ragged edges or visible cracks.

3/ Wash & Repair Pet Bedding & Food Bowls. Regular washing of your pet’s bowls, bedding, pillows, blankets and plush toys is a must. Washing bedding and toys can help cut down on irritants and allergens like pet dander, dust and dirt. Use an unscented, pet safe detergent and avoid fabric softeners or other additives. Air dry or use the dryer, but avoid dryer sheets.

4/ Examine, Repair or Replace Collars, Harnesses & Leashes. Take a look at your pet’s collar, harnesses and leashes to make certain they’re in good working order, with no visible signs of wear and tear. Repair or replace if necessary. Now, get outside together and take a good long walk to enjoy the mild weather!

5/ Set Up a Regular Grooming Schedule! Your pet’s fur, teeth and nails can always use a bit of extra attention. Make sure to regularly groom your pets. Whether you bathe and groom them at home or use one of our experienced pet stylists, your pet will look, feel and smell wonderful. Don’t forget to regularly brush their teeth! Your veterinarian or groomer can show you the best techniques and recommend pet-safe products.

6/ Update Pet Tags, Licenses & Registrations. Check your pet’s tags, licenses and microchip registration information to be sure all contact details are correct. If your pet isn’t microchipped, get it done ASAP. Replace any worn or rusted ID tags.

Ready to schedule your pet’s new year pet health check-up? Click here to find an AZPetVet location near you. Happy New Year from the AZPetVet family!