A West Midlands veterinary hospital is urging owners of flat-faced dogs to be aware of the warning signs their pets may be struggling with a chronic breathing condition, after revealing the number of animals it has treated has almost doubled over the past five years.
Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, in Shirley, has seen the number of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) surgeries carried out at its Highlands Road hospital soar by more than 130% since 2014. As the popularity of flat-faced dogs continues to rise, Chris Shales, a soft tissue surgeon at Willows and leading specialist in small animal surgery, is urging owners of Pugs, English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, in particular, to be aware of signs which may indicate pets are at risk.
Shales said: “It’s important for owners of specific breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, to be aware of the signs a pet may be developing BOAS and also the options available to them for specialist assessment and treatment of the condition. Signs of BOAS can vary from mild snoring or snorting noises to severe breathing problems. Restlessness at night and regurgitation or vomiting can also be related to BOAS.
“These breeds are extremely popular with the French bulldog overtaking the Labrador as our most popular pet, and this warning is not about trying to make owners anxious. It is simply about letting them know how to recognise early warning signs and, if they are concerned, urging them to get their pet assessed.”
He added: “Not all dogs will require surgery. During initial consultations, we will look at a number of factors and also carry out exercise tests, which can help provide an objective assessment of a dog’s condition. For some, they may be given a weight loss programme to follow or prescribed medication.
“For those which do require surgery, post-operative care is as important as the procedure itself in a great number of these cases.”
Last year, the French bulldog overtook the Labrador retriever as the UK’s most popular breed of dog, according to statistics from the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club.
The popularity of the breed has seen an unprecedented rise in recent years, with a 44% increase from 2016 to 2017 alone and a 2,964% increase over the past 10 years.