If your dog came from a puppy mill, it is very likely that it inherited some genetic conditions or immune system weaknesses that could result in significant health problems. Here is a quick overview of what puppy mills are and what you can do if your dog came from one.
What is a Puppy Mill?
A "puppy mill" is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility. A puppy mill's primary goal is to breed and sell as many puppies as possible, while keeping overhead as low as possible. In most cases, business needs trump animal welfare needs, and as a result, many dogs in puppy mills suffer from health and behavioral problems.
Most puppy mills sell their "inventory" either online or to pet stores. To be legal, they must be licensed with the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, and submit to routine inspections. These breeding facilities are run and regulated in a manner similar to farms and livestock operations.
Did My Dog Come From a Puppy Mill?
There are about 15,000 puppy mills in the United States, and as a result, millions of beloved pets can attribute their origins to one of these commercial breeding facilities. If you purchased your dog from a pet store, the classified ads, or from an online store, your dog was likely born in a puppy mill.
Thankfully, animal welfare groups and volunteers have helped rescue thousands of these dogs from sub-par breeding facilities. If you adopt a dog from a rescue organization or animal shelter, you just might have given your dog a second chance at life. Usually, rescue facilities will let you know if your new pet is a puppy mill rescue, but often the staff members do not know the dog's history.
If you believe that your puppy was born at a mill or your adult rescue was once a part of a puppy mill's breeding stock, it is possible that your pet is predisposed to certain diseases and hereditary conditions.
Common Conditions in Puppies
Puppies from commercial breeding facilities are often behind on their vaccinations, and as a result, they are more susceptible to certain preventable diseases. This is because breeding facilities often withhold vaccinations to save money.
The most important thing is to get your puppy up-to-date on its vaccinations, including distemper, parvovirus, and leptospirosis. You should also ensure that your new puppy is free of parasites, like heartworms and tapeworms, and place it on a preventative regimen.
Common Hereditary Conditions
Puppy mills often breed dogs indiscriminately and without investigating whether their breeding stock is prolonging genetic disorders. Puppy mills also frequently inbreed their animals, which increases the likelihood that offspring will inherit these genetic disorders.
Different breeds are susceptible to different hereditary disorders. If your dog is from a puppy mill and you would like to preemptively address potential hereditary disorders before they develop, you should research your dog's breed and determine what conditions your dog is predisposed to inherit. For example, eye disorders are prevalent in collies, deafness is common in Dalmatians, and hip dysplasia is frequently inherited in German shepherd dogs.
You should speak with a veterinarian, like My Pet's Vet Clinic, about your dog's puppy mill origins. Your veterinarian can recommend certain screenings and medical tests to determine if your pet has inherited one of these hereditary disorders so that you can proactively treat these conditions. This can help you increase your beloved pet's lifespan and improve its quality of life, even if your dog came from a puppy mill.