The British Veterinary Association has released the result of a survey which shows that veterinary surgeons believe that breeding and hereditary defects are the most pressing animal health and welfare issue in the UK.

In the Voice of the Profession survey, 52% of nearly 700 veterinary surgeons said it was their biggest concern, more than double the number that said so two years ago. The figure was even higher amongst veterinary surgeons working in companion animal practice, with 66% citing it as a major issue.

The BVA is highlighting these statistics and encouraging veterinary teams to talk to clients about responsible dog breeding and buying during this year's Puppy Awareness Week, which runs till 10th September.

The BVA and the Kennel Club run Canine Health Schemes which screen dogs for inherited conditions including hip and elbow dysplasia, hereditary eye disease, and Chiari-malformation/Syringomyelia. Dog owners and breeders can use the results to make more informed breeding decisions and help improve the health of breeds susceptible to debilitating or life-limiting inherited conditions.

Pre-breeding testing and screening are not just for purebred pedigree dogs - screening is also important for crossbreed dogs, such as Labradoodles and Cockerpoos, which are becoming increasingly popular.

BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said: "With breeding and hereditary defects emerging as the number one animal health and welfare concern for vets, it is more important than ever to screen before breeding dogs. Vets in practice regularly see cases of inherited conditions such as hip dysplasia and eye problems that are debilitating and distressing for dogs.

"The good news is that we have schemes and tests in place that help breeders and owners make sound judgements about responsible breeding. The BVA/KC Canine Health Schemes and Kennel Club DNA testing services are critical tools for breeders. Anyone thinking of breeding from their dog or thinking about buying a puppy should ask their vet about available health schemes and how they can be used to inform their decisions."

During Puppy Awareness Week, BVA is also working with the Animal Welfare Foundation to promote the use of the Puppy Contract, which contains a section for the breeder to fill out about any health screening or DNA results to offer reassurance to owners. 

BVA, in partnership with ITN Productions, has developed a 4-minute film on responsible dog breeding and buying that can be played in practice waiting rooms or on social media channels, which also explains the process and benefits of the Canine Health Schemes.

More details about the BVA/KC Canine Health Schemes can be found at:  

Photo: By DodosD - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link