Like a judge or politician who must divulge conflicts of interest, I fully admit that I have a bias against many dog and cat breeders. I don’t routinely welcome them into my practice because they are often very bad pet owners and clients.
But every week, I have new, happy clients who have just purchased a puppy or a kitten from a breeder, and I have to wade through the information their breeder has given them. The stuff the breeder says is often not based on sound medical evidence. Fads, unfounded opinion and old wives’ tales or new-wave crap are often the order of the day.
“But my breeder said…” — this makes veterinarians’ blood boil.
Why? Because most of these breeder ideas are wacky and put the puppy or kitten’s health in jeopardy. The breeder didn’t spend eight or 12 years studying to be a veterinarian. “But my breeder has been doing this for 30 years…” It doesn’t take 30 years or a lot of smarts to put a male and female dog in a room and watch them have sex. However, it takes a tremendous amount of effort and knowledge to become a veterinarian.
Okay, all you good breeders out there. Cool your jets. Of course some of you are wonderful, ethical breeders who work hard to improve your breed. You are welcome at my practice. Unfortunately, you are in the minority.
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Many breeders are interested in only one thing: emptying their kennel of puppies. Veterinarians are interested in something else: keeping those puppies healthy for the next 15 years. Who do you think has more interest in giving you the best advice possible? The breeder you’ll never see again, or your vet — who might be with you from puppy kits to geriatric screening?
The Puppy Visit
So Mrs. Luvapup comes in with her new maltipeekapoo. “My breeder said this breed is very sensitive to vaccines. You should only give her half a dose.”
(To myself: Well, this is not a breed. This is a mutt. All dogs get the same dose of vaccine. If a little dog should get just a little vaccine, should a Great Dane get four doses?)
“My breeder said this breed is very sensitive to anesthesia. You can’t use any drugs.”
(To myself: Again, this is not a breed. She is a little dog with no specific sensitivities to anesthesia. And if she was a breed that had special needs, I would know how to carefully anesthetize her — because I’m a veterinarian.)
“My breeder said I didn’t need to bring a stool sample in because the mother has no worms.”
Out loud: “I give up.”
Now we move on to the literary segment of this frustrating episode of “My Breeder Said.”
Many breeders load up their new owners with lots of information in handouts, covering everything from nutrition to disease prevention to vaccine schedules to training. New owners are ready to follow the breeder’s opinions like it’s a bible. This drives veterinarians nuts! NUTTY TIME! NUTS!
Many new owners don’t realize they’re offending their new veterinarian by saying, “But my breeder said…” 500 times. Why would you bring your new puppy to a veterinarian if the breeder knows everything there is to know about that particular breed, and all veterinary medicine as well? I honestly think some new owners would like a drive-through window for a vaccination and a deposit box to drop off the handouts they got from the breeder. There might be something in those handouts I don’t know.
If they don’t want a veterinarian’s advice, they should keep their handouts to themselves and go get their vaccines at a Pets-R-Us. That way, they’ll get no exam; they won’t find out about the umbilical hernia or the puppy’s luxating patellas; and Pets-R-Us will sell them vaccines they don’t need.
Next: My favorite breeder mantras…
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