Q & A: Purebred dogs and after hours emergency services

Please remember that the advice given here is of a general nature, and if you have any concerns about your pet’s health you should contact your vet immediately.

Q: I have heard so much recently about problems with purebred dogs. We are thinking of getting another dog, and have always had Labrador Retrievers. Should I be concerned?

A: The main problem with purebred dogs is that they have been bred for certain characteristics with an associated increase in certain genetic or heritable conditions, and that in some breeds the gene pool has become extremely small. The first point is related to an increased incidence of heritable conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia in certain breeds. (eg Labradors) This doesn’t mean that all Labradors will suffer from these problems, just that they are more likely to than a cross bred dog. The second point refers to genetic diversity – one of the points made in a recent television program on the BBC was that some breeds of dogs in the UK have less genetic variation than the nearly extinct Giant Panda. Clearly offspring of these dogs will have an increased risk of genetic disease. As I see it you have two options – to follow the breed you know and love, seeking out breeders with a good reputation and with hip and elbow scores for their breeding dogs. Alternatively you should look at a cross bred dog matching the size and disposition of the type of dog you like. There are many rescue centres with lovely dogs looking for homes should you go this route. Please contact your veterinary practice for more information.

Q: My veterinary surgery now use an after hours emergency to cover emergencies on weekends and overnight. Is this normal practice and should I have any concerns?

A: Providing an A&E out of hours service is an expensive and complicated process and most practices now utilise an out of hours service. Our practice uses an out of hours clinic that provides cover through the night and all Bank Holidays for emergencies, allowing our staff to start the next day fully rested. The emergency clinic is staffed by veterinary surgeons and nurses in an existing practice with full diagnostic facilities, and the service is primarily aimed at dealing with emergency cases. While clients would often prefer to be seen by their own practice, the logistics of providing a full complement of staff through the night make this increasingly difficult. We follow up every case seen out of hours to ensure that the veterinary care received was of a high standard and that our clients expectations were met. Most cases are then reviewed by our practice for any ongoing care.