In 2014, David Rogers, as part of the MB Jungle Foundation, established Pet Birth Defect Awareness day to remind us of the “interactive role humans play in our pets’ physical birth defects as well as their mental health.”
Pet birth defects/abnormalities can be present at birth or be present later on in a pet’s life. Some birth defects/abnormalities are easily visible and recognizable, such as a deformed limb, while others may not be visible, or don’t manifest until later stages in life.
In August of 2021, Valley Animal Center took into our care Mandy and her littermates, all who were born with swimmer’s feet. Some were not as bad as others. Mandy’s is the worst of her siblings as she has swimmer’s feet and scoliosis. She struggles to walk and has to drag her hind legs with her. Through the guidance of our vets, our dog care staff has assisted in giving her physical therapy, but we are still looking for a foster home who will be able to give full attention to Mandy, and her siblings, so that they can all hopefully regain mobility to the best of their capability. If you would like to help us foster Mandy and her siblings, or other animals in need, submit your foster application HERE.
What causes pet birth defects?
Pet birth defects are mainly a result of genetics, but there can be a variety of causes, some that are not in our control, but others that are.
Inbreeding and Over-breeding
Physical and behavioral problems can result due to breeding. There are so many breeds of dogs that we have come to expect to look a certain way without realizing the health risks that may have resulted due to our own expectations. Purebred dogs are often at an increased risk of inheriting diseases and heightened health issues, “such as hip dysplasia in large breeds like the German shepherd and the Saint Bernard, and patellar luxation, or persistent dislocation of the kneecap, in toy and miniature breeds.”
Valley Animal Center is always encouraging pet owners and potential pet owners to adopt, don’t shop. This is not only because the Central Valley already has such a high population of homeless animals, but also because by “shopping” for a specific animal, you may be supporting the act of breeding that leads to animals’ continued increased health risks and birth defects.
Spaying and neutering your pets (or ferals through TNR) is important, not just for your pets but for the community of animals that your pet is part of! Spaying and neutering helps us to regulate the pet overpopulation crisis but it also helps lower the chances of pet birth defects!
Remember that inbreeding (whether intentional or unintentional) already puts newborn animals at a higher risk of health complications and defects. Some of these may be minor, but others may be very costly down the road! If spaying/neutering your animals can prevent this, why risk the health of your animal or a future animal?
My pet was born with a birth defect. How can I help them?
If your pet was born with a birth defect, always consult your veterinarian. Some defects, such as minor mobility issues can be helped with things like therapy, while others may need more intensive care. It’s also always a good thing to seek guidance from your vet about future considerations you should make to ensure your pet can continue to have a great quality of life!