The risk of serious diseases in dogs is rising in the UK – including diseases that were considered rare just a few years ago.
Canine brucellosis is top of the list.
It is a bacterial infection that can seriously harm pregnant bitches and their pups, and cause infertility in both sexes.
Most infected dogs do not show any symptoms, although lethargy, lameness and swollen lymph nodes can be signs.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) suggests that the main cause of this rise in cases is the increased number of dogs that have been imported to the UK, most of which will not have been tested for brucellosis and may be infected.
Many vets are now asking owners of newly-imported dogs to ensure a test is undertaken three months after their canines enter the UK.
The BVA also advises that newly-arrived dogs should be kept apart from other dogs until they test negative.
If a dog tests positive for canine brucellosis its options are very limited – even with long-term and expensive antibiotic therapy the odds are very high that the dog will become re-infected because the bacteria can live in parts of the body that antibiotics can’t reach.
A dog may remain infected and be an ongoing source of infection for other dogs and humans, even if outwardly healthy, and so euthanasia is usually recommended.
UK government statistics show that strays from Romania, Bosnia, Belarus, Greece, South Africa and Afghanistan are the most likely to have health issues.
Endemic canine diseases such as parvovirus and distemper are also becoming more common in the UK, having been almost eradicated over recent years due to the effectiveness of vaccines.
Parvovirus can cause severe illness, and it is often fatal – it damages the lining of the guts, resulting in severe diarrhoea and vomiting.
Distemper can also be fatal, and is closely related to measles in humans.
Both parvovirus and distemper are highly infectious, but the BVA believes that the main reason for their increase is that more and more owners are not vaccinating their dogs.
This may be linked to increased living costs, alongside the steep rise in vets’ fees, meaning that owners cannot afford appropriate veterinary care; or simply a lack of understanding about the importance of canine vaccination.
All of our rescue dogs are health checked and fully vaccinated before they go to their new homes, and owners are given four weeks’ free pet insurance when they adopt their new pet.
Steve is a healthy and happy three-year-old golden retriever – a breed that is not associated with any endemic health issues (e.g. skin allergies, breathing problems, or joint malformations).
He has boundless energy and is very intelligent, both characteristics of golden retrievers, but he is not typical of his breed, which is renowned for its tolerance and gentleness (hence being the most popular choice as a guide dog).
He does not like to be fussed and, unlike the easy going ‘stereotypical’ retriever, and so he’s not best suited to a busy family lifestyle.
Therefore he can’t live with children and we think he would be happiest as the only pet in a household.
Steve would suit experienced new owners whose ideal dog would be a German shepherd or a rottweiler – breeds more associated with guarding and ‘working’.
Steve has lots of potential and is very quick to learn new things. In fact, he thrives when he’s challenged and stimulated, and given the opportunity to show how smart he is.
If you have the knowledge, time and energy to invest in Steve he will repay you a thousand times over, and be the very best canine companion anyone could wish for.