Vets are warning potential dog owners to think twice before buying a puppy after breeding and hereditary defects emerged at vets’ top animal health and welfare concern. In the past two years the number of vets citing it as a pressing issue has more than doubled, in figures revealed during Puppy Awareness Week last 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. Nearly half (45%) of companion animal vets surveyed included these among the three welfare issues that concerns them most.

 Poorly bred puppies can suffer from numerous health problems and poo socialisation leading to behaviour problems. Brachycephalic dogs can suffer from serious health problems including struggling to breath due to their flat faces, which are considered a ‘characteristic’ of the breed.

BVA and Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) are encouraging prospective pet owners to consider healthier breeds or cross breeds instead, and to always consider how a puppy has been reared.

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.”

To help owners, the AWF and RSPCA have developed the Puppy Contract, a useful tool to help pet owners ask the right questions and avoid these problems.

Thinking of buying a puppy? Five tips from BVA and AWF:

  • Download the Animal Welfare Foundation/RSPCA Puppy Contract for free, to help you ask the breeder all the right questions
  • 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.


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