Should you breed a pet?

The idea of breeding from our pets can be very appealing. Puppies and kittens are lovely, and producing a new generation from our beloved dog or cat can be exciting.
It is important, however, to carefully consider whether breeding is right for you and your pet. For instance, it is essential that your pet is healthy and has a good temperament, otherwise you may pass on health and behaviour issues to the litter. It is unethical to intentionally breed from an unhealthy animal. Anxious or aggressive parents may produce similar behaviours in their offspring.
Some people choose to breed because they want to make money from selling the puppies or kittens. During Covid there was a huge increase in demand, particularly for puppies and this caused a significant increase in prices. However, this increased demand has dropped and some breeders have been left unable to rehome all the puppies from a litter.
There are also financial implications. A number of genetic tests are available for certain breeds, which include blood tests, eye examinations and x-rays and, where these are recommended, they should be checked prior to breeding to ensure the parents are less likely to pass on an abnormality to their offspring.
If the bitch or queen becomes unwell during the pregnancy or the birth they may require veterinary treatment, and an emergency caesarean at 2am is stressful and expensive.
Complications could lead to the death of the litter, meaning that you have no financial return on the costs incurred. The bitch or queen could also become ill or even die, and the risk of losing your family pet should be seriously considered.
It is also important to consider appropriate homes for the puppies or kittens before you breed them. People are often keen to get a new puppy or kitten but, once they reach adulthood, they may find they are unable to cope. Most dogs in rescue centres are 1-2 years old.
There is no proven physical or psychological benefit to your pet from having a litter. In fact the opposite could be considered more likely due to the potential for complications associated with the pregnancy. Unintentional matings are not uncommon and neutering should be considered to avoid this risk.
If you are going to breed your pet, please consider all of the above before doing so and plan ahead to ensure all appropriate tests have been completed in time and that you have researched appropriate homes for all potential puppies or kittens before they arrive.

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