The British Veterinary Association has revealed that 56 per cent 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.
BVA’s figures reveal that vets found only 10 per cent of dog owners could recognise their brachycephalic dog’s breed-related health issues, while 75 per cent 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.
With animal welfare a top priority for the profession, BVA has developed a position statement on brachycephalic dogs, which includes evidence of the health and welfare problems associated with brachycephaly and a 10-point plan, as well as an online #BreedtoBreathe toolbox to support veterinary practices in improving the health and welfare of future generations of brachycephalic breeds.
BVA president John Fishwick said: “These dogs are more popular than ever with celebrities, and on social media, and vets fear that this is adding to their popularity with members of the public.
“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.”