Choosing Your Dog: Pandemic Highlights Need for Practicality 

Choosing that perfect pet to join the family is a highly personal decision. Owners choose particular dogs for a variety of reasons, varying from practical to nonsensical! For some, if ever there was a time to reap the benefits of owning a dog, it may be now, given the mental stress introduced by the COVID pandemic. People have lost relatives and friends to COVID. The pandemic has caused grief, loneliness, mental health issues, and financial challenges. While our dogs could be a great source of comfort at this time, they can also be expensive, especially if they suffer from health issues.  In this environment, carefully consider the cost of providing a dog with the life it deserves. Practically speaking you should take into consideration dogs with the least health issues as you make your plan to add a furry family member.

In many countries, financial pandemic stress meant the rate of abandonment of dogs increased, causing overcrowding at dog shelters. A shelter could offer an excellent opportunity to find your lifelong friend. In a small island in the Caribbean, severe economic stress led to an ambitious “Ruffuggee project plan” being hatched to rescue and airlift dogs suffering this plight to North America.

Dogs need quality food, safe and comfortable housing, love and regular visits to a veterinarian for preventive care. Although costs can vary greatly depending on the size of the dog and other factors, an annual average cost of a dog in the US may be about US$1100. In addition to considering the annual cost of feeding and caring for a dog, researching which dogs have the least health problems may be a worthwhile effort.

Other costs that may crop up, are emergency medical treatment, the need for neutering, licensing, or maybe boarding when the family goes on vacation. Of course, if the dog is struck with the disease, the vet expenses can increase considerably. In a dog with cancer, treatment costs can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, dependent on the treatment, whether surgical, chemo, radiation, or a combination of the same.

Dogs with the least health problems

The truth is there are several breeds of dogs that fit into the category of “dogs with the least health problems”. Opinions may vary on some of these breeds, but here is a starting point:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Australian cattle dogs
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Border Collies
  • English Springer spaniels
  • Siberian Huskies
  • German Pinschers
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Dogs prone to various health issues

Some dogs are widely considered to be more prone to various health issues. Some examples: Cocker spaniels, German Shepherds, Bulldogs, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, and Bassett Hounds.

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What about Mixed Breeds?

Despite articles claiming that mixed-breed dogs have the least health issues compared with purebred dogs, there is a 2013 study conducted by the University of California-Davis that says otherwise. The study found that purebreds are not always at a higher risk for inherited genetic disorders. In addition, some Vets with extensive experience say their experience does not support the health advantages of mixed breeds. Dr. Jerry Klein DVM, a veterinarian in the emergency room at Chicago’s largest veterinary emergency and critical care hospital for over thirty years, agrees.

Consider Adopting – Pandemic has been Stressful for Pets!

Around the world, most shelters have a variety of dog breeds and mixed breeds available for adoption. Why not consider adoption?  Especially now, as across the globe, the pandemic has had implications for man’s best friend.

Consider this example on the small island of Barbados. The tourism-based economy has faced grave financial challenges. Unemployment has soared, and even the employed have faced pay cuts and reduced hours. This has had severe consequences for animal welfare. The population has a high percentage of pet-lovers. Still, the financial stress has resulted in an unprecedented rate of dog abandonment, surrender to sanctuaries or dogs living in inhumane conditions. Many dog owners have struggled to feed and care for their pets. The dog shelters on the island were bursting at their seams.

A Dog Rescue Mission

The heartwarming Ruffugee Project was born. In May 2021, the Eastern Ontario Potcake Rescue (EOPR), a non-profit, completed its largest rescue mission to date. Two hundred and eighteen dogs travelled from Barbados to Canada on the “Freedom Flight”, a plane chartered specifically for the task! Many of these dogs had been abandoned, seriously neglected or surrendered to an animal shelter. Some of the stories would bring tears to an animal lover’s eyes. There were examples of dogs who existed in small pens or chained and sometimes in their excrement. The island suffered a severe ash fall in April from a volcanic eruption on a neighbouring island as if the pandemic weren’t enough. The toxic ash posed severe health issues for dogs, especially those living outdoors.

On arrival in Canada, the dogs were taken to rescue shelters, fostered, and many have already found loving homes. The effort was supported by several Barbadian organizations including: Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary, The Ark Welfare Society, the Woodbourne Boarding Kennel and the Barbados RSPCA.
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As dog owners, we are responsible for loving and caring for our furry friends for the rest of their lives. If planning to expand your fur family, give some thought to the cost of this care, even if it means choosing based on which dogs have the least health problems.

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