Doing your breed homework……..

It is one of the most exciting moments welcoming a new pet into the household! You discuss whether your lifestyle can accommodate a pet then you go about choosing one… What questions should you ask yourself?

  • Does our lifestyle accommodate a cat or a dog?
  • Do we have enough space in the house for a cat or dog?
  • Do we have enough time to walk it if we get a dog?
  • Do we have someone to look after it when we need to go away on holiday?
  • Do we work reasonable hours so the pet isn’t alone all day?
  • Can we afford to look after a pet both to feed it and look after its health?

If all the answers to the above questions are yes then it is time to choose that breed….

Careful thought must be given to the type of dog or cat you re home. All breeds do have the potential to have specific health problems but some more than others. This article is to help identify certain breeds that as vets we are more concerned about than others. They specifically are the flat faced breeds (brachycephalic – for veterinary terminology). For example the pugs, French bulldogs and Boston terriers and the Persians and Scottish fold cats.

Over the last 5 years these breeds have become more ‘fashionable’ due to the celebrity trend to buy these breeds, then the social media posts that follow. Unfortunately not everyone is aware of the health problems that exist from the moment they are born. As a result insurance can be very expensive to cover these breeds and in some cases the surgery required to correct the genetic problems may not even be covered by insurance companies any more.

Looking at the dog breeds specifically the health problems that often become apparent as they grow up are associated with their facial structure. The very short noses often have very small nostrils, excess soft tissue at the back of their throats and narrowed airways. This is often compounded by the fact that these breeds don’t tend to be the most active and often are prone to being over weight. Along comes a slightly hotter day and these dogs can go into respiratory arrest as they over heat so easily. As a vet I have definitely been involved in trying to rescue these breeds from the crisis that ensues…..

So as a potential owner what can be done? If these breeds are right for you then it comes down to being responsible. Ensuring you do your homework about where to rehome them. Making sure you see the mother and father if you buy a puppy to try to find a line that has a longer nose and hopefully less breathing problems. If your flat faced breed of dog does start to struggle as it grows please listen to your vet when they suggest corrective surgery…. After all prevention is better than cure!