Health worries for brachycephalic breeds
Vets fear that the number of dogs needing invasive surgery to correct painful breed-related deformities will continue to soar as their clients choose to copy big brands and image-obsessed celebrities in their choice of dog breed. New statistics from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) show almost half of vets believe their clients who choose brachycephalic dogs are swayed by social media or their celebrity idols.
56% of the brachycephalic dogs that vets see need treatment for health issues related to how they look, such as breathing difficulties, skin problems, eye ulcers or dental problems. However, today’s figures reveal that vets found only 10% of dog owners could recognise their brachycephalic dog’s breed-related health issues, while 75% were unaware these potential problems even existed before deciding on the breed. When surveyed directly, the main reason owners gave for buying brachycephalic dogs is the perception that flat-faced breeds are ‘good companion breeds’. The majority of vets believe the additional costs associated with owning flat-faced dogs, such as corrective surgery and higher insurance, come as a shock to nine out of 10 owners.
British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:
“There are thousands of pictures on Instagram of brachycephalic breeds tucked up alongside popular celebrities and bloggers, but these #puglife images don’t show the full story. Many of these ‘cute’ pets will struggle with serious and often life-limiting health problems. Whilst many people perceive the squashed wrinkly faces of flat-faced dogs as appealing, in reality, dogs with short muzzles can struggle to breathe.”
“We often hear from owners that their flat-faced dog is healthy but they don’t realise that loud breathing isn’t ‘normal’. Vets see these problems in practice every day and tell us that very few owners can spot their dog’s health issue before it is highlighted by the vet.
“These hereditary problems are distressing for the animals and can be costly for the owners to treat. If you’re looking for a dog think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead.”
Businesses supporting #BreedtoBreathe
BVA is launching a new #BreedtoBreathe campaign, providing sharable content, including infographics and videos, to counter ‘cute’ images and draw attention to the serious health issues experienced by brachycephalic dogs.
The leading body for vets has already raised concerns with Heinz, Costa Coffee and Halifax, all of whom have pledged to avoid using brachycephalic animals in future campaigns. BVA hopes #BreedtoBreathe resources, which also include a template letter and guide to challenging big brands on social media, will encourage vets, vet nurses and concerned members of the public to contact brands directly when they see them using these animals in advertising and social media and ask them to stop.
For more information on the health implications for brachycephalic dogs, visit the Kennel Club’s website.