Do your research

Before you fall for that purebred puppy or kitten, make sure you’re starting off on the healthiest paw possible.

A few suggestions: The Canine Health Information Center ( lists genetic and other tests that should be conducted for each dog breed.

At the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (, you can enter a canine parent’s name or registration number from such registries as the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club and find genetic test information if it exists. The site includes test results for other branches of the parents’ family tree, including offspring and half-siblings, which are helpful in assessing familial health around inherited disorders involving more than one gene.

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Fab Cats ( provides details on hereditary feline diseases, highlighting those for which genetic tests are available.

Pup Quest ( lists attributes of a reputable dog breeder—and red flags for irresponsible ones—almost all of which also apply to cat breeders.