Vets are calling on prospective dog owners to think twice before buying a puppy after breeding and hereditary defects came out as vets’ top animal health and welfare concern, with the number of vets citing it as a pressing issue more than doubling in the past two years, according to figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) revealed during Puppy Awareness Week (4-10 September).
According to BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which polled almost 700 vets across the UK, there has been a significant rise in the levels of concern with regard to conformational deformities and pedigree breeding, particularly of brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and French bulldogs, with nearly half (45%) of companion animal vets surveyed including these among the three welfare issues that concerns them most.
Poorly bred puppies can suffer diseases, health problems and poor socialisation that can lead to behaviour problems, while brachycephalic dogs suffer serious health and welfare problems including struggling to breathe due to their flat-faces, which are a ‘characteristic’ of the breed.
This Puppy Awareness Week, BVA and Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) are encouraging prospective pet owners not to buy a brachycephalic breed and consider healthier breeds or cross-breeds instead, and to always consider how a puppy has been reared and cared for in its first few weeks to ensure a happy, healthy dog in later life.
British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said:
“Anyone thinking of getting a new puppy should speak to their local veterinary practice for advice on the right dog for them and use the free Puppy Contract that gives prospective owners all the information they need to ensure they are buying a healthy, happy and well-socialised puppy. If a seller is not willing to provide the information listed in the Puppy Contract or allow you to see the puppy interacting with its mother, then you should walk away otherwise you risk perpetuating irresponsible dog breeding and lining the pockets of people who care more about profits than puppy welfare.”
The Puppy Contract, developed by AWF and the RSPCA, is an invaluable go-to tool to empower pet owners to ask all the right questions when choosing a puppy, in order to help avoid the problems that can arise from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder.
BVA and AWF are highlighting five top tips for anyone thinking of buying a puppy:
• Download the Animal Welfare Foundation/RSPCA Puppy Contract for free, to help you ask the breeder all the right questions: www.puppycontract.org.uk
• Do not buy a puppy from anyone but the breeder, and ensure you always see the puppy interacting with its mother and any littermates.
• Ask to see the puppy’s health records, including records of vaccination, worming and flea treatment as well as other veterinary treatment.
• Consider getting a rescue dog from one of the recognised rehoming charities.
• Ask at your veterinary practice about the right pet for you, your lifestyle and your family.