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BVA urges vets to join #BreedtoBreathe campaign

by Ellen Hardy
13 February 2018, at 4:26pm

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 BVA is urging vets to join its new #BreedtoBreathe campaign and help challenge the pervasiveness of these ‘cute’ images. Nine 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 the BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey. Almost all the companion animal vets surveyed (98%) had treated brachycephalic dogs for conformation-related health problems in the past year.

The BVA is urging practices to avoid using images depicting dogs with brachycephalic conformation across their own channels where possible and for vets to use the 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. Its position statement lists 10 actions that practices can undertake to improve the breeds’ welfare and promote responsible ownership:

1. Offer pre-purchase consultations with prospective dog owners, where the potential health problems of brachycephalic conformation can be clearly outlined.

2. Strongly advise against breeding if a dog is suffering from BOAS or requires conformation-altering surgery.

3. Promote the Puppy Contract through practice communication channels.

4. Promote and actively participate in available health schemes, including those for brachycephalic breeds that currently exist among breed clubs.

5. Carry out exercise tolerance tests and functional grading for brachycephalic breeds as part of their annual health assessment.

6. Enrol the practice in clinical surveillance programmes such as VetCompass and SAVSNET, to contribute to data gathering and evidence generation.

7. Develop a practice communication strategy to clearly communicate the health problems experienced by dogs with brachycephalic conformation.

8. Develop practice policy to ensure that practice communication channels do not portray such dogs as cute, humorous or appealing.

9. Ensure practice policy supports staff to appropriately convey evidence-based information and advice to owners of dogs with brachycephalic conformation.

10. Support local breed clubs and representatives to develop and implement plans to improve the health of dogs with brachycephalic conformation. 

The #BreedToBreathe toolbox, with more information and resources, is available at www.bva.co.uk/brachys