Dogs do wonders for their guardians’ health: They can prevent heart disease by encouraging exercise, they can lower stress levels, they can encourage happier minds and they can even improve a baby’s immune system, according to WebMD.
But when you say “yes” to adopting your dog, it’s not just your own health you need to consider — you are also vowing to make the right health decisions for that dog throughout his entire life.
Pets.WebMD.com is a fantastic resource for learning about various illnesses dogs can face, but one article details the most common: ear infections, worms, flea infestations, hot spots, vomiting and diarrhea. While these are much milder than extreme medical problems, such as broken bones, cancer or arthritis, they are not without their price tags.
A visit to my vet here in Nashville, Tennessee, costs more than $50 just to be seen, with additional charges for investigating and treating the actual issue — not to mention the cost of preventative medicines, like flea ointments and heartworm chews. Because my dogs spend their fair share of time at the vet, I wholeheartedly endorse pet insurance.
Clearly, a dog’s health bills can be expensive. In fact, medical costs are among the largest expenses of being a dog guardian. Before adopting a dog, consider not just the shelter or rescue fees but also medical costs down the road. Will you be able to give your dog the care it deserves?
You can, of course, work avidly to keep your dog healthy by feeding it a well-balanced diet with a top-rated food, offering it plenty of exercise, socializing and playing with it regularly and keeping up on vet visits, vaccinations and medications.
To further reduce medical costs for your dog, you can adopt a breed that is specifically known for having fewer medical problems during its life. Just keep in mind that there is never a guarantee.
Here are several dog breeds known for having low medical costs throughout their lives.
Mixed Breeds (Mutts)
Many breeders will argue that mixed breeds are a game of roulette because you don’t know what kinds of behaviors and medical issues to anticipate. Veterinarians and other experts, however, are more likely to argue that mutts, because of less inbreeding, are less likely to inherit genetic diseases and typically live longer lives.
While experts across the field agree that Border collies are known to have very few health problems in comparison to other canines, they are also incredibly intelligent dogs that need clever owners who will challenge them. Though you may save money on medical costs, be ready to dedicate a lot of your free time to training and keeping your Border collie challenged and active.
Australian Cattle Dogs
The oldest dog in the world was Bluey, an Australian cattle dog, at 29 years (1910-1939). Unofficially, Maggie, an Australian Kelpie, broke the record at 30 last year, but due to paperwork issues, Bluey still holds the title.
According to Dogsaholic.com, Australian cattle dogs rarely develop any critical conditions, which is likely why Bluey was able to make it to more than 200 in dog years. The three most common conditions are progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia and deafness.
Australian shepherds are among the healthiest and most active dogs you can rescue. (What can I say? Australians breed healthy dogs.) The major health issues to keep an eye on with these hard-working dogs are hip dysplasia, eye diseases, drug sensitivity and epilepsy, reports VetStreet.com.
English Springer Spaniels
English springer spaniels are fun-loving dogs with very few hereditary diseases. Most English springer spaniels can go through their lives without major complications, though eye-related illnesses can be their number one problem.
Though beagles can suffer from common illnesses, such as hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia, the largest concern is actually obesity, which can easily be controlled by a responsible dog guardian. If you can keep their diet under control, beagles can live relatively long and illness-free lives.
German Shorthaired Pointers
PetMD.com lists the German shorthaired pointer as one of the world’s healthiest breeds but warns that they are still prone to common issues like gastric torsion, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism. As with some of the other high-energy breeds on this list, German shorthaired pointers require a lot of attention, exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy.
Despite being commonly recognized as fancy, poofy dogs, poodles are just as playful and energetic as some of the other dogs on this list. While relatively healthy, two common issues for poodles include Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome.
One of my dogs, Greyson, is a strange mix between a greyhound and a Weimaraner, and he is the sweetest dog I have ever met. Intensely loyal and lethargic, Greyson is representative of most greyhounds, who, despite their love for running, would happily spend the day lying on the couch. Vetstreet.com calls greyhounds “generally healthy” but lists a few conditions to be aware of, including gastric torsion, heart murmurs and hip dysplasia.
In terms of small dogs, Bichons are among the healthiest, though they can be prone to allergies. Be aware that Bichons are often guilty of small dog syndrome, so it is important to dedicate ample training time to your Bichon Frise from the day you bring him home from the rescue.
One final reminder: Just because a breed falls upon this list does not necessarily mean all dogs of that breed will live without medical complications. My Greyhound mix, for example, should have a relatively complication-free life; instead, he has developed several complications, both small and large.
It is always important to ask yourself if you can afford a dog before rescuing, keeping in mind potential medical problems down the road. But as a proud dog dad, I can tell you it is absolutely worth the investment.
If asked what his number one job is, Timothy Moore would likely say, “Doggy daddy.” But when he’s not caring for his dogs or taking them for hikes with his partner, Tim is usually writing, reading, editing or enjoying a good beer with friends.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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