Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic (Flat-faced) Companion Animals
A Complete Guide for Veterinary and Animal Professionals
Health and welfare issues of brachycephalic (flat-faced) animals are one of the most pressing problems facing companion animals right now. Dogs, in particular, are suffering from a ‘brachycephalic crisis’ resulting from a perfect storm where predispositions to an array of health issues are amplified by a population boom for certain brachycephalic breeds such as the French Bulldog and Pug. But yet, for many owners, these dogs represent the perfect companion: endearing personas and cute looks in a socially desirable package. So where is the truth in all of this?
This book will equip veterinary professionals, animal welfare scientists, breeders and owners with the fuller story about brachycephalic health and welfare. The first half of the book provides the context of how and why we are in this crisis, offering in-depth historical, social, ethical, communication, nursing, welfare, epidemiological, genetics and international perspectives. The second half shifts towards the clinical arena, with chapters that cover the background, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the many unique healthcare needs of brachycephalic animals. Cutting-edge knowledge is shared on a range of disciplines including respiratory disease, ophthalmology, dermatology, dentistry, neurology, obesity, reproduction and anesthesia.
With twenty chapters written by world-leading experts, lifetimes of experience and knowledge are condensed into the first book dedicated exclusively to brachycephaly in companion animals. This essential reference resource will inform, challenge and stimulate; it will open your mind to new opportunities for you to improve the welfare of brachycephalic animals by your personal and collective choices and actions. But prepare to be surprised: you may just find that your views on brachycephaly in companion animals will be changed forever.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: The brachycephalic boom – where are we now and how have we got here? Part 1 Wider viewpoints 2. A historical perspective of brachycephalic breed health and the role of the veterinary profession. 3. Human factors. 4. Ethical challenges of treating brachycephalic dogs. 5. Discussing brachycephalic health with current and prospective dog owners. 6. Nurses and the brachycephalic patient – practical considerations and the role of veterinary nurses in improving brachycephalic health. 7. The epidemiology of brachycephaly – prevalence and risk factors of common disorders, and implications of changing demographics. 8. The genetics of brachycephaly, population genetics and current health testing for brachycephalic breeds. 9. International and national approaches to brachycephalic breed health reforms. Part 2 Clinical viewpoints. 10. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) – Clinical assessment and decision making. 11. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome - surgical management and post-operative management. 12. Ophthalmology in practice for brachycephalic breeds. 13. Dermatological problems in the brachycephalic patient. 14. Dental and Oral Health for the Brachycephalic Companion Animal. 15. Brain disorders associated with brachycephaly. 16. Vertebral malformations and spinal disease in brachycephalic breeds. 17. Obesity and weight management of brachycephalic breeds. 18. Reproduction in brachycephalic companion animal species. 19. Anaesthesia for the brachycephalic patient. 20. Conclusion: Can a brachycephalic dog be a healthy dog, and how do we achieve this?
Rowena graduated from the University of Bristol with a first-class BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare (2009). She then went on to complete a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College (2013) exploring the impact of conformational extremes on canine health, focusing on brachycephalic breeds. This work culminated in a research impact event ‘Building Better Brachycephalics’ in 2013 and has since influenced international policy and legislation on the breeding of brachycephalic dogs. She has continued to work at RVC in the field of canine health and welfare research since finishing her PhD, including being awarded a BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship in 2016. She is now Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at RVC and leads a research team exploring diverse topics in this area. Rowena has authored over 60 papers on canine and feline health and welfare since 2012. She was awarded UFAW’s Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year Award in 2016. Rowena is co-leader of RVC’s Brachycephalic Research Team and a founding member of the UK Brachycephalic Working Group.
Dan graduated in veterinary medicine from Dublin in 1987. After 22 years in small and large animal general practice as well as in industry, he gained an MSc in epidemiology in 2009. He was awarded a PhD in 2014 at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) for developing the VetCompass™ Programme to evaluate breed effects on the health of dogs and cats. He is now Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC. Dan has authored over 70 VetCompass™ papers since 2012 that provide welfare evidence and benchmarks relevant to UK companion animals. He co-authored the 3rd edition of the book ‘Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats’ as well as a book on hamster health ‘Hamsters; in sickness and in health’. He was awarded a fellowship by RCVS in 2018 and the Blaine Award by BSAVA in 2019. His current research programme focusses on breed-related health in dogs and cats based on applying VetCompass clinical data shared from over 30% of UK vet practices. Dan chairs the UK Brachycephalic Working Group and is a leader of the Royal Veterinary College’s Brachycephalic Research team. Dan’s ethos is that without good evidence, we are all just muddling around in the darkness.
There is absolutely no doubt that the collective expertise that this book brings to the reader is immense. If you are facing clinical issues in these patients — notably dogs — as so many vets and nurses are worldwide, then I doubt you could come up with a question or scenario that isn’t covered in an in-depth and comprehensive way from ophthalmology and neurology, to BOAS surgery, to GI and dermatological issues. So many of us talk about BOAS and so much CPD is dedicated to it but it’s great to have a book that acknowledges the multitude of diseases that these animals suffer besides their respiratory difficulties. Anyone questioning whether it is morally wrong to continue the breeding of these animals would be hard pushed to argue with this weight of evidence I think. And, for me, this is where the book is really excellent — the first half, diplomatically entitled Wider viewpoints, really is a wonderful ethical discussion around the whole issue that had me immersed from the start. We need the clinical education but we, very much, also need to consider the deeper issues, which this book certainly does. Rowena and Dan should be rightly proud of this work and the outstanding expertise they have gathered to bring it together. Whether we like the status quo or not, this book is an essential and invaluable resource for anyone working with these animals or interested in the wider ethics of such extreme conformation.
- Emma Milne, Veterinary Surgeon, in UFAW's Animal Welfare journal, Volume 31, Issue 2, May 2022
The conundrum of flat-faced pets is that people love them despite – and sometimes because of – the features that may cause health issues. At a time of heightened concern about the welfare and popularity of brachycephalic breeds, this comprehensive volume brings together the world’s experts to consider the history, human psychology, ethics, genetics, and veterinary aspects of caring for them. Surprising, thoughtful, and practical, this book is essential reading for anyone who cares about animal welfare.
- Zazie Todd, PhD, Canisius College, Companion Animal Psychology website
Finally. A much-needed, comprehensive, science-based look at flat-faced dogs--how they came to be and how we can, and must, improve their wellbeing. This is an essential book for veterinary professionals and dog owners alike.
-- Mia Cobb, PhD, and Julie Hecht, MSc, of Do You Believe in Dog?
Health and Welfare of Brachycephalic Companion Animals is an excellent and unique resource for all veterinary professionals working with these breeds. As the popularity of these dogs continues to increase, this book provides a detailed exploration of the history of the breeds, the unique nature of owner/ patient relationships and the genetics and ethics of breeding. The second part of the book is dedicated to discussion of the management of the wide range of conformational abnormalities which occur frequently in these breeds. Having all this information gathered together in to a single text will be an invaluable source for reference both in and out of the clinic.
-- Rachel Hattersley, BVetMed(Hons), CertSAS, DECVS, MRCVS, Specialist in Soft Tissue Surgery, Dick White Referrals Ltd
This book is a vital tool for both veterinary and animal welfare professionals, as well as those simply looking to be better informed. It provides the reader with a broad understanding of the complex drivers and consequences of breeding companion animals for brachycephalic features. Most importantly, it also proposes integrated mechanisms for management and change of what continues to be a contentious and intractable problem.
-- Mark J Farnworth PhD., Associate Professor (Animal Welfare), Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, UK