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Vets commend Love Island star for raising awareness of flat-faced dogs’ breathing issues

11 June 2019, at 9:00am

The BVA has commended model and 2016 Love Island runner-up Olivia Bowen Buckland for her social media posts urging prospective dog owners to do their research before getting a puppy, after her French bulldog Reggie had to undergo surgery to help him breathe more easily.

Buckland’s dog required surgery for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), a condition that affects many flat-faced dogs like French bulldogs, Pugs and English bulldogs.

In social media posts "liked" or "shared" by almost 65,000 people, Buckland wrote:

“I’m so shocked at how many bulldog/pug owners don’t know anything about the breed they own or in particular BOAS. It actually baffles me. We knew this day may come Reggie and we knew what it may cost. Brachycephalic breeds are not easy. Educate.”

The celebrity also shared advice for prospective puppy owners:

“I truly, truly recommend 100 percent researching as many breeds as you can to find the perfect one for your lifestyle and family and home. I get so upset seeing the amount of difficult breeds being given up when a little bit of research could have raised alarm bells.”

Commenting, BVA Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos said:

“Celebrity influence has played a huge role in explosion in popularity of flat-faced dogs, so it is welcome to see a reality TV star with millions of social media followers start a conversation around the serious health issues many of these breeds suffer from.

“BOAS is a distressing condition for those dogs living with it. As vets, we often hear from owners that their flat-faced dog is healthy, but they don’t realise that loud breathing or snorting isn’t "normal". In reality, dogs with short muzzles can struggle to breathe. That is why we ask all prospective dog owners to pick health over looks.

“Responsible pet ownership begins even before getting a pet, which is why it is commendable that Mrs Bowen Buckland has asked her fans to always do their research first. Anyone looking for a dog should talk to a local vet, as they are well-placed to give advice on the health and welfare problems associated with certain breeds and to suggest a pet that is suitable for your lifestyle and financial considerations.

“One way to make sure you are getting a healthy, happy puppy from a responsible breeder, who has carried out all relevant health tests, is to insist that they use the free, downloadable Puppy Contract.

“We hope that Mrs Bowen Buckland’s example will inspire more celebrity owners of pets with breed-related health and welfare issues to speak out.”

Social media stars such as Zoella and big-name TV and music stars including Lady Gaga, David Beckham and Kelly Brook own brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and French bulldogs as pets.

BVA’s #BreedtoBreathe campaign, launched last January, has mentioned the veterinary profession’s fears 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 trendsetting celebrities in their choice of dog breed.

Statistics from BVA’s Summer 2017 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey showed that almost half of vets believed their clients who chose brachycephalic dogs were swayed by social media (49 percent) or their celebrity idols (43 percent).

However, celebrity dog owners and their followers are often unaware of the health issues common among flat-faced breeds. More than half (56 percent) of the brachycephalic dogs that vets saw in practice needed treatment for health issues related to how they look, such as breathing difficulties, skin problems, eye ulcers or dental problems. But vets reported that only 10 percent of dog owners could recognise their brachycephalic dog’s breed-related health issues, while 75 percent were unaware these potential problems even existed before deciding on the breed.

Olivia Bowen Buckland’s Twitter post can be viewed here

Find out more about BVA's #BreedtoBreathe campaign.

For more tips on responsible puppy purchase, click here.