Social media influence causes increase in health concerns for brachycephalic breeds
With around half of UK vets (49%) citing the high profile of brachycephalic breeds in social media and advertising as one of the main reasons that clients choose to get a brachycephalic pet, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging vets to join its new #BreedtoBreathe campaign and help challenge the pervasiveness of these ‘cute’ images.
9 out of 10 companion animal vets report that the number of brachycephalic dogs being brought into their practice has greatly increased over the past three years, according to BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey. Almost all of the companion animal vets surveyed (98%) had treated brachycephalic dogs for conformation-related health problems in the past year.
How businesses can get involved with the #BreedtoBreathe campaign
As part of the #BreedtoBreathe campaign, BVA is urging practices to avoid using images depicting dogs with brachycephalic conformation across their own communication channels where possible and for vets to use the letter template, provided as part of the #BreedtoBreathe toolkit, to individually reach out to brands using brachycephalic breeds in their communications, in a collective effort to help combat the normalisation and rise in popularity of these extreme features.
“Several well-known brands that use images of flat-faced dogs, such as Costa Coffee, Heinz and Comic Relief, have responded positively to letters from BVA and individual members of the profession recently, and pledged to avoid using them in future campaigns. These seemingly small victories offer hope for greater and long-lasting change.” – John Fishwick, President of the British Veterinary Association.
10 ways Veterinary Practices can improve brachycephalic breeds’ health and welfare:
With animal welfare a top priority for the profession, BVA has developed a position statement, which includes evidence of the health and welfare problems associated with brachycephaly, a ten-point plan and an online toolbox, to support veterinary practices in improving the health and welfare of future generations of brachycephalic breeds.
- Offer pre-purchase consultations with prospective dog owners. The potential health problems of brachycephalic conformation can be clearly outlined in these consultations.
- Strongly advise against breeding if a dog is suffering from BOAS or requires conformation altering surgery to prevent further litters with extremes of conformation
- Promote the Puppy Contract through practice communication channels puppycontract.co.uk
- Promote and actively participate in available health schemes, including those for brachycephalic breeds that currently exist amongst breed clubs
- Carry out exercise tolerance tests (ETT) and functional grading for brachycephalic breeds as part of their annual health assessment
- Enrol the practice in clinical surveillance programmes such as VetCompassTM and SAVSNET, to contribute to data gathering and evidence generation
- Develop a practice communication strategy to clearly communicate the health problems experienced by dogs with brachycephalic conformation
- Develop practice policy to ensure that practice communication channels do not portray dogs with brachycephalic conformation as cute, humorous or appealing
- Ensure practice policy supports staff to appropriately convey evidence-based information and advice to owners of dogs with brachycephalic conformation
- Support local breed clubs and representatives to develop and implement plans to improve the health of dogs with brachycephalic conformation
The #BreedToBreathe toolbox, with information about BVA’s policy position, the ten-point plan for vet practices, template letter, shareable social media infographics, and more, is available at www.bva.co.uk/brachys.