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Will your dog’s health condition cost you dear?

Written by: Emma Lunn
Predisposed health conditions for certain breeds cost dog owners an average of £831, rising to an estimated £1,144 over the dog’s lifetime, according to Direct Line Pet Insurance.

Many vets believe there is a lack of awareness from some owners about illnesses and conditions their beloved pets may be predisposed to. Direct Line research estimates that more than half (53%) of owners are not fully aware of the potential health conditions that their dog could experience later in life.

Vets also estimate that some 56% of all illnesses experienced by pets are directly linked to their breed, with three quarters (76%) reporting an increase in the number of breed specific conditions they have treated in the past five years.

Common conditions in popular breeds include ear infections in Cocker Spaniels, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in Daschunds and hip dysplasia and obesity in Labradors.

However, a fifth (20%) of dog owners (3.6 million people), didn’t think it was important for them to know whether their dog was susceptible to certain health conditions beforehand, or if the dog’s parents had any known conditions (19%). Nearly a quarter (23%) didn’t think it was important to know about susceptibility to certain behaviours.

Yet more than a third (36%) of dog owners across the country have seen breed-related chronic or ongoing conditions in their dog. Skin and hair related problems (28%) are common among dogs with conditions, as are behavioural issues (24%) and ear complaints (21%).

With more than four million Brits having purchased or rescued a dog since lockdown began vets could soon be seeing an even greater rise in demand for treating breed specific complaints.

Madeline Pike, veterinary nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance, said: “It’s always really exciting choosing a new dog to join your family, but it’s important to make sure you choose the best breed for you. It’s vital to check things like how big the dog will be, how much exercise it needs and what its training requirements will be, but it’s equally important to check for any conditions or illnesses it is predisposed to.

“Owning a dog can be expensive, so understanding what issues the dog may face during its lifetime will help you budget, and also understand what you can do to make sure your dog is as healthy as possible.”

In recent years there has been a rise in popularity of so-called designer cross breeds such as Cockerpoos, Labradoodles and Puggles. While traditionally, cross breeds can be healthier than pure breeds, vets warn that owners still need to be careful when choosing a puppy as there is a risk that it could inherit predisposed conditions from two different breeds.

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