Improving welfare standards of Australia’s flat-faced dogs

Media release date: 
Tuesday, 03 October 2017

Australia is a nation of dog-lovers and on this World Animal Day (4 October) the peak body for veterinarians, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), is raising awareness of the health and welfare concerns associated with flat-faced dogs.

AVA President, Dr Paula Parker said: “World Animal Day is all about raising the status of animals to improve welfare standards. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the important role that animals play in our lives and consider what we can do to ensure we consistently live up to our responsibility or duty of care to protect them.

“Veterinarians support and enhance animal welfare in every aspect of their professional lives.”

Last year, the AVA in conjunction with RSPCA launched a campaign called Love Is Blind, with the aim of raising awareness of the health and welfare concerns associated with brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs.

“Some of our most popular breeds – including French Bulldogs, Pugs, British Bulldogs – are suffering serious health issues because they’ve been bred to look a certain way.

“Working in emergency practice, I see a lot of these dogs at the point of crisis. At this time of year as the weather warms up, it’s not uncommon to have an ICU full of brachycephalic dogs that need urgent medical attention because they can’t breathe.

“Because they don’t have normal muzzles, they can’t easily cool themselves in warm weather, and the soft tissues in their throats can swell and block the passage of air. They may faint, collapse or overheat, sometimes fatally, when exercising or excited. These dogs often need major surgery to improve their quality of life.

“Through the campaign our hope is to encourage the community to work together to address these welfare concerns in affected breeds so that breeding standards will change to promote the health and welfare of these dogs, over their looks,” Dr Parker said.

“World Animal Day is an opportunity for us all to consider how we can give these flat-faced dogs a better future.”

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For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.

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