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Some breeds are an "anatomical disaster" How can we educate veterinary clients & pet owners?

Posted in Our Community @ Jul 9th 2019 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
How should we educate veterinary clients & pet owners that some breeds are anatomical disasters?

"Owners must be told some breeds are born to a lifetime of suffering, even if it means upsetting clients and putting livelihoods on the line"

This was a popular post I shared on our Facebook Page: Pugs are anatomical disasters. Vets must speak out – even if it’s bad for business (The Guardian – Australian Edition) and it got me thinking.

There's no doubt that this whole topic is a tough one and I only needed to read the range of comments posted on the Vetanswers FB Page in response to the article - some from vets and others from pug owners - to get a sense of just how difficult a topic this is.

My view as a pet owner?

I know some breeds have had 'traits' (some may say flaws) bred into them to encourage certain breed characteristics. But did I know that, according to this post… "The only time these dogs are not in some degree of respiratory distress is when you have them intubated under anaesthetic”…?

No - I had no idea that they were potentially under this level of distress.

And I'm sure I'm not alone....

But I also don't own one of these breeds. So for me, this is simply an issue of education and I don't have to confront the personal guilt of owning and perhaps loving these breeds.

I know some will say that pet owners just don’t want to know and they won’t listen anyway. Which may be true for some but I don’t think that’s a reason not to make the effort to educate. Some people will never stop smoking despite the multitude of evidence of the health implications - but over the years many have eventually listened. And if pet owners aren’t listening to the information about breed specific issues maybe it has to do with how the message is being delivered or maybe they just need to hear the same information from a multitude of sources for it to take effect.

I'm quite sure it's going to be a long and difficult process to educate pet owners about the impact humans have had on certain breeds - and many people are likely to get upset along the way. But I don’t think that is a reason NOT to educate, I think we need to be careful HOW we go about educating. Heavy on factual information and very light on guilt. Maybe we should aim for more of a long, gentle journey rather than a quick trip.

And I know it's going to be a difficult job for the messenger.

So what do you think?

Should there be an active campaign to educate pet owners about these breed specific issues?

Where should the information come from?

What information should be presented?

How should the information be presented?

Should we all play a role in delivering the information?

This is a great place to start:

Congratulations to the AVA and the RSPCA for putting together this website, video and information. I think it's perfect - do you agree?

Now we need to get it all out there.....

First up, take the time to check out all the information on offer as there is quite a lot. At the very end of the web page you'll find 'Love will find a way' with information for breeders, those looking for a puppy, existing dog owners and vets. The 'Vets' section leads you to the AVA website where there is more information and two posters 

You could help share the information by:

  • Adding a link to the website on your website
  • Sharing the resource on your social media accounts
  • Adding the video to your YouTube Playlist
  • Featuring the website and resources in a newsletter to clients

Another resource...

Another useful blog post to share with your clients is from I Love VeterinaryProblems Associated with Brachycephalic Dogs

All opf these resources need to be shared regularly - once is not enough. Like most change (especially one that may be uncomfortable to some), the message needs to be seen multiple times for the infomation to sink in. And then maybe, pet owners will begin to question certain breed characteristics and ask 'why?'.

What else would you suggest??


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