Communicating with current owners


Dogs with exaggerated features that compromise their welfare have special needs and require specific veterinary care to try to help them be more comfortable.

Here’s a checklist of the key points for veterinarians to communicate with owners, who may not be aware of the full implications of their dog’s condition.

  • Prevention is key, and dogs with exaggerated features that cause welfare problems should be desexed to prevent pain and suffering in future generations.
  • Early intervention is also very important. Veterinary advice should commence as soon as possible when the dog is a young puppy, and continue throughout the dog’s life. Intervening early can help to reduce the worst consequences of these problems.
  • Be clear with the owners about the potential problems associated with the breed including associated costs and discuss any problems that may have been already noted for each individual patient.
  • Offer the client a referral to a specialist and discuss the best time to undertake any medical or surgical treatment.
  • Provide clear advice on the ongoing daily care the owner needs to provide to try to help the dog be more comfortable.
  • Discuss additional practical measures owners can take to prevent a health crisis. For example, using a harness instead of a neck collar for brachycephalics, restricting their activity in hot weather, and only taking very short and slow walks in cool temperatures to reduce the risk of heat stress or collapse.
  • Let the owner know the early warning and danger signs to look out for so that they can seek urgent veterinary care when it’s needed.

Primary Care veterinary practices can become involved in the VetCompass Australia project. This is a companion animal surveillance database that collects information gathered during day-to-day veterinary consultations. It will facilitate the collection of data on inherited disorders as well as other health and welfare problems in Australian companion animals to determine prevalence and monitor effectiveness of any intervention programs. Further information about getting involved can be found here.