You're in a mall and you make the mistake of looking into a pet shop. Looking back is the saddest pair of eyes staring from a glass box that is much too small. If the dog being sold is in less than favorable conditions, more likely than not, this pooch has come from a puppy mill.
Puppy mills are sort of like dog factories, where pups are treated as profit and many never make it out alive. Your heart starts to hurt; you have to save this pathetic beast! But before you let your emotions run away with you, consider some of the common problems that come with dogs from puppy mills.
Not all puppy mill dogs are bought. Some people end up with these abused canines after rescue operations free them from their prisons. No matter how you obtained your badly-bred pooch, you're likely eager to know about the issues that often accompany these troubled fur-babies.
Below are some of the most common problems that dogs from puppy mills face.
The goal of a puppy mill is simple: make money! Because of this, genetic screening almost never happens. This means that dogs with severe hereditary issues are allowed to sire hundreds of puppies. Some of the most common genetic health problems seen in puppy mill mutts include heart and kidney disease, hormonal disorders, blood disorders and joint deformities. While a few of these diseases may be obvious when the dog is young, many won't show themselves until the pupper has matured.
Puppy mills are some of the filthiest places out there. It's not unusual for dogs to live in small crates full of their own nastiness (we're talking pee, poo, vomit, you name it). Sick dogs may be allowed to interact with the uninfected. The poor babies that succumb to their diseases may not even be removed from their littermates right away! This means it is possible and even probable that your puppy-mill-pooch could have a viral, fungal or bacterial infection. Some of the most common ones are parvovirus, kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, mange, and intestinal parasites.
It's no surprise that dogs who have been mistreated all of their lives would not really know how to be pets. Any interaction that they've ever had with humans is likely to be negative. Also, it's pretty common for pups to be separated from their mothers way too early. This means they miss out on those vital weeks where they learn dog language and acceptable behavior from their mom, brothers, and sisters. When you bring one of these tragic canines home, remember everything is going to take time. Puppy mill dogs will probably be wary of any touching or petting. Give them time to come to you. Be ready to begin house training from square one! Puppy pads are really good to have around during this time. If you have other fur-babies, keep in mind an ex-miller will need a lengthened introduction to other dogs, in a protected space if possible.
The Vet is the First Stop
If you rescue or accidentally purchase a puppy mill dog, your first stop should be at the vet's. Be sure to tell your veterinarian where the dog came from and request a thorough examination. This can help identify any major health problems before you bring your new addition home.
This serves as a protection to your other pets. Some diseases can jump from animal to animal and cause one really giant problem. Bacterial and fungal infections are usually treatable; however, viruses must run their course. Unfortunately, certain viral infections are not curable and may be fatal.
No matter what kind of baggage your new four-legged friend comes with, be sure to make the rest of their life filled with compassion and love. These babies have fractured souls and deserve healing hands. And remember, do your research before buying an animal, because supporting puppy mills will just spread the pain to other pooches!