Bill was so ill with arthritis that euthanasia was considered
A dog, whose crippling arthritis became so bad he was almost put to sleep to end his misery, is now able to walk again – thanks to PDSA vets.
Bill the Springer Spaniel was so riddled with the condition that at his lowest point he could barely rise from his bed. And when he did, he was only able to drag his back legs across the floor.
Owner Doreen Fawcett (64) from Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said she was left devastated at how quickly her loving and energetic companion deteriorated before her eyes.
She said: “Bill has suffered from arthritis for several years and was on medication for it but a few months ago he suddenly became really poorly.
“He collapsed and couldn’t walk at all. He just went downhill so quickly it was absolutely awful. I was crying my eyes out because I knew he was suffering so much.”
Doreen immediately took eleven-year-old Bill to PDSA’s Newcastle Pet Hospital where vets carried out X-rays to discover the extent of his condition.
PDSA senior vet, Clare Hinchliffe, said: “We carried out tests which showed that Bill had spondylosis of the spine, a degenerative condition, as well as narrow space between his spinal discs.
“He also had severe arthritis in his hips and knees which was causing him constant pain. Because Bill’s condition was so severe, we had to consider putting him to sleep. But we decided, with Doreen’s approval, to try a different treatment.”
Bill was already receiving an anti-inflammatory drug, together with a joint supplement but PDSA vets decided to try adding in another medication, that combats pain in a different way, as a last resort.
Clare added: “We don’t tend to use this combination of drugs as a standard long-term treatment for arthritis in dogs but in Bill’s case it was the only option.”
Thankfully, the new regime of drugs began to take effect and there was a significant improvement in Bill’s pain levels and mobility.
Doreen said: “PDSA have been wonderful and, thanks to the new treatment, Bill is so much better than he was.
“He couldn’t get up at all before but now he can walk around and even climb up and down the stairs. Bill is such a happy dog, he loves everyone and he loves life.”
PDSA is raising awareness of conditions such as arthritis, thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman says pet owners can also play a vital part in alleviating the discomfort caused by arthritis: “We see many cases of arthritis where the pet can be helped not only through veterinary care, but also through weight reduction and appropriate levels of exercise.
“Recognising symptoms and taking early action can help alleviate pain and slow the progression of the condition.”
Facts about arthritis:
Over a pet’s lifetime, the smooth joint surfaces can be worn away, which can result in inflammation of the joints, stiffness and reduced mobility, resulting in arthritis.
Obesity can lead to the onset of arthritis as it causes additional pressure on the joints.
Advances in veterinary medicine means there is a range of treatments available to help manage arthritis and put the spring back in your pet’s paws.
It’s important to keep pets mobile even in their twilight years. Older pets might look happy curled up on the sofa, but a short walk – even if it is only to the end of the road or a trot round the garden – on a regular basis, could help keep joints moving and stiffness at bay.
For further information about PDSA and free pet health advise visit www.pdsa.org.uk
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will particularly benefit as they are 20 times more likely to suffer from MVD compared to other dogs
Pet dogs suffering from heart disease could live 15 months longer according to groundbreaking new research released today.
The global EPIC study, led by Professor Adrian Boswood of the Royal Veterinary College, has found that treatment with the drug pimobendan delays the onset of heart failure secondary to mitral valve disease (MVD), the most common form of heart disease in dogs.
The results, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, found that treating dogs with enlarged hearts – an early warning sign of progressive heart disease – before they displayed any outward signs of the condition delayed the onset of heart failure by an average of 15 months, with dogs that received the drug also living significantly longer than those receiving a placebo.
Evidence was so conclusive, the study was terminated early following an interim analysis as it was deemed unethical to continue to withhold treatment from the placebo group.
Heart disease is one of the top five causes of death of dogs in the UK1, with MVD accounting for the majority of cases. The disease is caused by the deterioration of one of the heart valves and predominantly affects small breed dogs, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dachshunds, Miniature Poodles and terrier breeds. It is also a common condition in elderly humans.
It’s crucial that all owners get their dog’s heart checked regularly by their vet. This is especially true for small breed dogs over the age of 7 years old, as this is when the risk increases.
Professor Boswood described why regular heart health checks are so important for dogs: “The vast majority of dogs with this heart disease will show no signs of the problem for quite some time, although they may have a heart murmur. This makes it crucial that all owners get their dog’s heart checked regularly by their vet. This is especially true for small breed dogs over the age of 7 years old, as this is when the risk increases.
“The exception is Cavalier King Charles spaniels, who are around 20 times more prone to this heart disease and can be affected much earlier in life, from around 5 years old, so need to be checked earlier and more regularly.”
The EPIC (Evaluating Pimobendan in Cardiomegaly) study is the most robust of its kind in veterinary medicine, taking 7 years to complete and working to the highest standards of clinical research, rivalling that of human trials. There were 360 dogs involved in the study, across 11 countries and 4 continents, making the results relevant for dogs and owners across the world.
A recent survey of dog owners found that more than half (53%) of small breed dog owners did not think their dog was at risk of developing heart disease, despite MVD being more prevalent in these breeds3. However, more than one in three (34%) would want to do anything possible to prevent their pet from developing the signs of heart disease.
Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford owns two cavalier King Charles spaniels; Roxy who is 4 and Gemma who is 8: “Our beautiful dog Gemma was diagnosed with a heart condition after she collapsed earlier this year, but before that we saw no real signs that she might be unwell – thankfully she’s doing well with the right medication.
Gloria Hunniford’s older dog Gemma is affected by MVD
“Knowing first-hand the effects of this disease, the fact that there’s now something that owners can do to help protect their dogs from the effects is fantastic news. I’m sure that, for most owners, there would be no question about taking the opportunity to give their dog the chance of a longer, healthier life.”
Jenny Jackson, owns 13-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Alfie, who took part in the EPIC trial: “I found out by chance that Alfie was diagnosed with a heart condition at one of his routine check-ups. They discovered he had a grade 4 heart murmur and was referred to the RVC where he was recommended to take part in the trial.
“Alfie has been a constant source of companionship since my husband died of cancer in 2009. Alfie has been there through it all, when I first started seeing my new partner Craig and then when my daughter Ellie was born.
“Since taking part in the trial, Alfie’s heart murmur has dropped to a grade 3 which is a significant milestone for his health. The results have been very positive as he became leaner and more agile; it is as if he had stopped aging.”*
It can be relatively easy for a vet to detect suspected MVD, but an ultrasound scan and radiograph (x-ray) may be required to decide whether a dog will benefit from treatment. Pet owners are urged to speak to their vet about the risk of heart disease in their dog, especially if they own a small breed dog over the age of 7 years or a cavalier King Charles spaniel over 5 years old.
EPIC Study Case Study – Jenny Jackson
Alfie and family
Jenny Jackson, from Bedfordshire, owns a 13-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel called Alfie. Alfie was diagnosed with preclinical MVD when he was 8 years old at the Royal Veterinary College where they established he had a grade 4 heart murmur.
Alfie has been part of Jenny’s family since he was 10 weeks old. Jenny knew she wanted to own a Cavalier since she fell in love with a family friend’s dog of the same breed. “I wanted a lap dog, which was gentle in nature and a Cavvie was the perfect breed for me,” she explained.
Although he has slowed down a bit with age and is slightly deaf now, Alfie is very much a treasured part of the family.
“When we got Alfie, although I had grown-up step children, I didn’t have any children of my own so he was my baby. Tragedy struck the family in 2009 when I lost my husband to cancer. For a while it was just me and Alfie, but his companionship helped to keep me going through the tough times.
“He just fitted in to whatever happened in my life. Alfie has been there through it all, when I first started seeing my new partner Craig and then when my daughter Ellie was born. He is a constant and reliable source of love and affection. He and Ellie have become very close, like brother and sister.”
Jenny described the day she found out Alfie had developed preclinical MVD: “I found out that Alfie had preclinical MVD by chance, it was at a routine visit to the vets and they discovered Alfie had a grade 4 heart murmur. I was then referred to a cardiologist specialist at the RVC where it was discovered that Alfie had preclinical MVD.”
When Jenny first discovered Alfie had preclinical MVD, she was concerned for Alfie’s health, but she was aware that Cavalier King Charles spaniels were predisposed to this condition.
“I was prepared for Alfie to have heart disease as I had done my research about the breed when Alfie was a puppy, but I had not heard of the term MVD in dogs, only in humans and I was worried for Alfie’s health. As a loving dog owner, you want to know what the prognosis is for your dog, and you want to know the extent of the problem early on if possible. You love them all the same though no matter what their condition is, and I would try anything to help Alfie. Alfie has done well health-wise for a Cavvie for his age and we expected at some point to see some effects of heart disease.”
Jenny found out about the EPIC trial during one of Alfie’s regular heart check-ups at the RVC.
“Adrian Boswood, Professor of Cardiology at the RVC suggested that Alfie should take part in the trial. He said Alfie was the right dog to take part in terms of breed, age and diagnosis. We thought, what did we have to lose? We had to take part and give Alfie a chance.”
To take part in the EPIC trial, Alfie had to have his heart beats recorded the week before his check-up. During the trial period, Alfie had check-ups every four months and be administered a tablet each day – ½ in the morning, ½ in the evening.
“Alfie was a good little patient and enjoyed the stroking and attention that staff were giving him,” Jenny added. “He was so laid back that I believe on occasion the hospital didn’t need to sedate him for X-rays. It was a great feeling to take part in the trial, we were so glad that there was something we could do for Alfie. The mere fact that his heart was monitored so closely by experts at the RVC (every 4 months) was a huge benefit in itself.”
Within a few months of starting the trial, Alfie’s murmur had gone down a grade, which was remarkable. The trial finished and despite what the vets originally said, Alfie has outlived the study.*
Jenny said the trial has affected Alfie’s health for the better: “Firstly the fact that the grade went from a 4 to 3 was a significant milestone in terms of what was going on inside Alfie. He also started to show positive results as he became leaner and more agile; it was as if he had stopped aging. Even now, he looks like a much younger dog than 13 (almost 14). He sleeps a lot more and is a bit stiff when he first wakes up, but after a good stretch he’s fine. He has never fainted since, never developed a cough or been significantly out of breath. His appetite is ‘greedy’ given half a chance, although he is on a strict diet! The only sign of ageing is the fact that he appears to be a slightly deaf now.”
Jenny added: “I definitely think it’s important to know what you’re dealing with when it comes to your dog’s health, and to do your research when you decide to own a specific dog breed. You can then prepare yourself to take appropriate action when needed. It does become an education process for owners, but when you take on a dog that is predisposed to certain diseases, you need to do the best for them. I think the overwhelming results that have come out of the EPIC study are so important and good news for dog owners. Knowing that there is something out there that these dogs can now take to help extend their life is truly amazing. It is lovely to know that Alfie will be by my side for longer.”
“Having Alfie be involved in such a ground-breaking study in canine cardiology is such an honour. I like to think Alfie has left a legacy in some way.”
Alfie is now on a management programme developed by the RVC to control his MVD.
*(N.B, Jenny does not know if Alfie was on the placebo or pimobendan)
Pets Magazine’s Nell, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
It’s official – dog owners in the UK are fitter and healthier than people without dogs, according to a new study.
Research indicates that people who own a dog are likely to exercise at least three times more a week than the rest of the nation, as they walk or run for an average of 74 minutes every day, in addition to their normal exercise.
In the process, dog owners will cover an average distance of 1092 miles a year on foot, compared to the 364 miles walked by those who don’t have a one.
The research found that not only did owning a dog affect the amount of walking a person does, but also that dog walkers were more active overall.
As well as walking around the neighbourhood daily, it emerged dog owners are more likely to walk than drive anywhere, more likely to take the stairs than the lift, and are generally always on their feet.
In contrast, people who don’t own a dog only keep fit twice a week, and walk for just 18 minutes a day.
A resounding 73 per cent of owners say they love the fact they manage to get so much exercise now they own a dog, with the majority feeling fitter, healthier and more energetic since owning a dog, and not just in body, but in spirit too.
One in three dog owners said walking their dogs allowed them to de-stress after work, and a quarter felt it helped them to escape their busy schedules.
A spokeswoman for Butcher’s Pet Care, which commissioned the research into 2,000 dog owners, said: “It’s fantastic that owners and their dogs involved in our research are so fit and healthy with the majority going for walks at least twice a day, and this is having a positive impact on their owner’s health which is great to see.
“We know dog owners will walk far more than the average adult, as exercising their dog becomes part of their daily routine. Rather than relaxing in the garden dog owners are likely to be running around playing, and instead of nipping down the corner shop in the car, they’ll put the dog on the lead and walk.
“There are also some great social aspects to owning a dog, such as chatting with other owners when out walking – almost one in ten surveyed said they had met one of their closest friends walking their dog.
“Overall it’s safe to say that dog owners are generally more active and spend more time up and about than those people who don’t have a dog to look after – it’s a really great lifestyle choice!”
The poll reveals the average owner spends 58 minutes a day walking with the dog – which equates to approximately 3 miles a day and 21 miles over the course of one week.
This means dog lovers are walking an incredible 351 hours a year, covering a distance of 1092 miles.
In addition to miles walked, owners are chasing their dog around the garden for 16 minutes every day, that’s 97 hours every year.
And the average dog owner also goes for a jog with their dog between two and three times a week for good measure.
Researchers discovered the bigger the breed of the dog, the fitter dog owners were too, with Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs and Boxers needing the most number of walks per day.
A fifth of dog owners like the fact they get to meet and bump into other people when out and about, while a third make the most of the only fresh air they’ll get during the day.
Interestingly, one in 10 people will happily use walking the dog as an excuse to avoid a nagging partner, while one in 20 use the time to catch-up on the phone with their mum or dad.
A quarter of people polled like dog walking as they can escape a hectic schedule and 14 per cent say it is good to get technology-free time.
Some lucky dogs don’t just benefit from walks with their owner – the study indicated one in 10 dogs attend group walking classes, while six per cent go to agility classes.
Four per cent of dogs go to doga – the practise of yoga for dogs.
The Butcher’s Pet Care Spokeswoman continues: “Decades ago, owners very rarely needed to walk their dog as they were often just let out into the garden or roamed the local area freely, but times have changed! It is now up to the owners to keep their dogs fit and due to this their fitness levels have increased too.
“We carried out the research to highlight the many benefits of owning a dog and we hope that it will encourage more dog owners to focus on the health of their pets which includes taking them on regular walks, but also feeding them a natural, meat based and wholesome diet, as the two go hand in hand.”
BREAKDOWN OF STATISTICS
58 minutes walking with the dog
16 minutes running around the garden with the dog
Dog owners – walk / run for total of 74 minutes each day excluding normal exercise, averaging 3 miles
3 miles x 7 days = 21 miles a week
21 miles x 52 weeks = 1092 miles a year
Non dog owners – walk / run for total of 18 minutes each day excluding normal exercise, averaging 1 mile
1 mile x 7 days = 7 miles a week
7 miles x 52 weeks = 364 miles a year
Peggy with Veterinary Nurse Sarah Pitts & Veterinary Surgeon Sophie Baker (L to R.)
Vets at The Vet Liverpool have given a young dog her mobility back after she suffered a potentially catastrophic injury.
Peggy, a 4-month old Cockapoo, was brought in to The Vet (www.thevet.co.uk in Norris Green, Liverpool after injuring one of her back legs while playing with another dog. Brave Peggy was unable to put her foot down and was in severe pain; vets at the clinic suspected a major fracture.
Peggy immediately had a series of X-rays which showed up a severe fracture to the right tibia, the bone below her knee. Peggy needed an urgent operation.
Peggy’s X-rays showing the extent of the injury.
Vet Rory Paton, who is a specialist orthopedic surgeon, performed the surgery. Using a metal plate and screws, he was able to stabilise the bone to allow it to heal in the correct position.
Peggy recovered well from the operation and the next day she had started to use her broken leg again. The Vet Liverpool saw her for another checkup nine days after the operation, and she was back to her old self, according to her owners, the Newsham family.
Helen Hawken, Veterinary Business Manager at The Vet Liverpool, said:“The period immediately after the operation was crucial to Peggy’s recovery. Strict rest after a fracture repair surgery is essential in order to prevent the metal implants from moving or the bone fragments from becoming dislodged.
“Peggy was only allowed to go out on the lead in the garden for the first two weeks before slowly building up her exercise levels over the next month. She was not allowed to go up and down the stairs or to jump onto the sofa or into the car in the weeks following the operation.
“Her owners did a fantastic job of keeping her quiet, calm and well-rested, allowing the bones to heal nicely. Hopefully, Peggy won’t be so unlucky next time she’s playing in the park with other dogs!”
Peggy’s owner Mr Newsham, said:“We are delighted with the service and treatment we have received for Peggy. We bring all of our animals, five in total, to The Vet as we are always so well looked after.
“The whole team are so friendly and little things like remembering names really does make a difference. Taking your beloved pet to a Vet can be incredibly stressful, but The Vet makes it easy, they are fantastic!”
Taking place at Evolution, an exclusive venue set in the grounds of Battersea Park, this night of entertainment and glamour brings together the biggest names from stage, screen, sport, and fashion to celebrate and support the animal charity’s vital work caring for lost and abandoned dogs and cats.
For one very special night each year, guests experience one of the best red carpet events in the world, welcomed by dozens of the charity’s rescue dogs in Battersea’s world-famous Doggy ‘Guard of Honour’.
This year’s stellar star line-up will see much-loved entertainers, acting greats, and global fashion icons treading the red carpet, which boasts the Guard of Honour comprising some of the Home’s 400 rescued canine residents.
Amanda Holden and Paul O’Grady. Photo by David Baird
Iconic music group, Sister Sledge, are to headline the Collars & Coats Gala Ball, bringing their legendary hits – Lost In Music, He’s The Greatest Dancer, We Are Family, Rise and Shine, as well as performing to their new single Woman are the Music of the World which has become an anthem for women and girl empowerment – to the event. The fabulous trio of Debbie, Kim, and Joni Sledge will lead a dazzling line up of entertainment.
Other stars attending include David Gandy, Paul O’Grady, Danielle Bux, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Craig Revel Horwood, Dr Christian Jessen, Hilary Alexander, Chris Packham, Guy Henry, and many more.
Each gourmet pack also includes organic asparagus, quinoa, and saffron for that “extra touch of luxury and refinement”.
The “super-premium” fodder, which contains no preservatives, additives or artificial colours, is also GM-free.
It is not only fit for human consumption but tastes “absolutely wonderful” should owners feel tempted to try it, manufacturer Green Pantry claims.
A month’s supply costs nearly £750, which equates to a staggering £9,000 per year, £12.50 per serving or about £1.25 per mouthful.
There’s some good news: UK orders will be delivered free.
But customers from outside of the UK can expect to pay up to £150 more – a total of £900 – for a four-week supply to cover postage and packaging, and administration costs.
Simon Booth, of Green Pantry, said the limited-edition product has been created to satisfy demand from celebrities and other VIPs who are financially capable of “treating their cats to the finer things in life”.
“We offer a wide range of highly affordable and delicious holistic pet foods for cats and dogs, but British Banquet is for those few insanely rich pet owners to whom money is no object,” he said.
“We see it appealing to celebrities, managing directors and CEOs, ambassadors and other VIPs who wish to give their cats the finest things in life.
“We’ve based British Banquet around seafood as this is excellent for cats’ nutritional needs well-being and, with the exception of the caviar, have chosen only the best British produce.”
The food, which took Green Pantry more than two years to develop, will cost £249.99 for a 2kg bag – more than 30 times the price of standard kitty fodder.
Based upon a normal serving, it will take the average cat just 10 days to consumer it at a cost of almost £25 per day, or £12.50 per bowl.
It means a single month’s supply of British Banquet, which like all Green Pantry cat food is grain-free, will cost a wallet-busting £749.97.
But Booth, of Green Pantry, said the cost is worth every penny given the nutritional benefits it offers.
These include the company’s unique Pura-Pel herbal pre-mix to aid natural control of intestinal and external hygiene.
Green Pantry products are already stocked by pet shops across the UK and in stores such as Pets at Home, Barkers and Waitrose.
But British Banquet will only be available by special prior request via the Green Pantry website – www.greenpantry.co.uk – and will only come to market if there enough takers.
“Given the remarkably high cost of the ingredients, we can’t mass-produce a product of this quality,” Booth said.
Alison Savidge from Peterborough and the huge egg she found.
A normal-sized hen has laid what is believed to be Britain’s largest egg.
BB, a three-year-old black maran, produced the monster egg, which is four times larger than a standard egg, last week.
It measures nearly eight inches in circumference, is 3.75 inches tall and weighs 200g.
It was discovered by owner Alison Savidge, 51, who couldn’t believe what she saw.
The bookmaker and mother-of-two said: “I own three chickens and last week was shocked to find this egg had been laid by one of them.
“I originally thought it must have been a goose or duck egg it was that large.
“I definitely think it must be a contender for one of the largest eggs laid in the UK.”
Alison lives in her three-bed detached home in Peterborough, Cambs with her husband Andy, 48, and two daughters Hayley, 24, and Charlotte, 21.
The family have had chickens for around five years and revealed that BB is a “temperamental” layer.
In the weeks before producing the massive egg she’d only been fed her usual diet of corn and acted normally, they revealed.
Describing the day she found the egg, Hayley, also a bookmaker, said: “My mum was a little bit confused and ended up coming up to the house and getting me to come and see it because she was a little bit shocked.
“I went down and we didn’t know what to make of it. When my dad came home he was just as amazed.
“We don’t know what do with it. We don’t want to break it because it’s so rare but we’re all convinced it’s a double yoke. I guess we’ll never know.”
The family are planning on doubling the size of their current brood by adding another three chickens in the coming weeks.
The Savidge family’s egg beats previous contenders for the prestigious crown including a hen which laid 194g egg in York in March 2013.
The lay coincides with National Egg Week which ran from Monday to Monday October 17.
Jessica Frame, incoming CEO, has previously held senior leadership roles at Tesco, BCG and NutriCentre
Sally Bailey, incoming Chair, was the CEO responsible for transforming White Stuff into one of the UK’s leading outdoor lifestyle brands
The Vet now has six sites across the UK, with new clinics due to launch in the year ahead
The Vet, which provides affordable, accessible veterinary healthcare for pets, announces the appointment of Jessica Frame as chief executive and Sally Bailey as chair.
Jessica Frame, new Chief Executive of The Vet
Jessica joins from NutriCentre, a specialist health food retailer, where as managing director she delivered step-changes in the company’s digital offering, commercial terms, supply chain and team culture, and gained a strong grounding in running expertise-led B2C businesses. She had previously been Customer Strategy & Foresight Director at Tesco, focusing on proposition development, innovation and customer-led strategies; and before that she spent a number of years at Boston Consulting Group, where she specialised in retail, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
Sally is an experienced CEO and non-executive director with over 25 years’ experience in multi-channel retailing. From 2004 to 2013, she was the CEO and part-owner of White Stuff: under her leadership, the business grew from a £13m turnover outdoor brand into a £113m lifestyle retailer, and was listed in the Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For on six consecutive occasions. She now works as a non-executive director and currently chairs Kin&Co, a strategic communications agency, and Braintree Clothing, an ethical clothing brand.
Jessica Frame, Chief Executive of The Vet, said: “The Vet has the potential to be a true disruptive challenger brand in the market. Our unique proposition is designed for pet owners, based on a real understanding of their lives, and our clinical teams combine expertise and empathy to provide a differentiated service. Initial customer feedback has been loud and clear: they love what we’re doing. I’m really excited to join the team to lead the business to the next phase of innovation and rapid growth.”
Sally Bailey, incoming Chair of The Vet, said: “I am delighted to be working with Bridges on this exciting venture. I look forward to bringing my knowledge and experience of building successful customer-focused multisite businesses to support the growth of The Vet.”
The Vet was launched in 2013 by Bridges Ventures, the specialist sustainable and impact investor. It aims to provide a low-cost full-suite veterinary service for domestic pet owners, primarily operating in underserved areas of the UK where affordability of veterinary care is a significant barrier. The Vet offers consultations from as little as £14.99, and healthcare plans starting at £4.99 per month – plus ample parking space, no need for appointments, experienced clinical staff and longer opening hours. The Vet opened its first site in Bristol in 2013 and has since expanded to five other locations.
Garret Turley, partner at Bridges Ventures said: “We’re delighted to bring Jessica and Sally on board; we think it’s testament to The Vet’s huge potential that we’ve been able to attract such high-calibre people. We launched the Vet because we saw a gap in the market for better, cheaper and more flexible veterinary services right across the UK – and the success of the six sites we’ve opened to date has provided ample evidence of this. We’re confident that under Jessica’s leadership, and with Sally’s support, we can continue and even accelerate this growth to build a national consumer champion.”
Evidence is mounting that flat-faced or brachycephalic cats (pictured), including most modern Persians or Exotic Shorthairs, are suffering.
Flat-faced cat breeds, like their canine counterparts, are suffereing from a number of health problems, leading to lifelong health problems as a direct result of being ‘designed’ to have a very flat face. This includes breathing problems, eye inflammation, skin infections and difficulty eating.
Just released is a scientific paper from the University of Edinburgh1 which concludes that flatter-faced cats were more likely to have breathing problems and that the breathing difficulties were also associated with increased tear staining and a more sedentary lifestyle. This comes on top of a recent successful prosecution in Switzerland under the Animal Protection Act, brought against two people who bred extreme bracycephalic cats. The revised animal protection law in Switzerland has strengthened regulations against intentional breeding to produce specific traits that compromise the health and wellbeing of an animal.
Brachycephalic animals have a shortened muzzle which constricts nasal passages and can result in respiratory and feeding problems. In addition, the tear fluid cannot drain normally from the eyes, explaining why such cats have permanent eye discharge and tear staining of the face. The eye and facial abnormalities can result in chronic inflammation of the eyes and problems with skin infections in the folds around the flattened nose and across the face. Many affected cats also have difficulty in picking up food, as the jaw is also malformed, with teeth and jaw being misaligned.
In extreme cases, brachycephalic animals will have serious respiratory disease, causing significant suffering. Shamefully, this is a man-made condition. In pursuit of a look or fashion, breeders of some cats and dogs are selecting ever-shorter muzzles that inevitably result in serious welfare issues. Impaired breathing in these animals – part of a condition called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – can lead to health problems throughout animals’ lives and is often life limiting. This has been a common problem in many brachycephalic breeds of dog such as the pug and bulldog, but there have been increasing calls from veterinary and welfare organisations to recognise the suffering this causes in both dogs and cats.
The University of Edinburgh study, published in the journal PLOS ONE – saw hundreds of owners submitting photographs of their cats and completing a detailed health survey so that researchers could measure the facial features of the cats and assess breathing abnormalities (noisy breathing or difficulty breathing after exercise). The research confirmed that flatter-faced cats (of breeds such as the Persian or Exotic Shorthair), were more likely to have breathing problems and that the breathing difficulties were also associated with increased tear staining and a more sedentary lifestyle.
A previous paper, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS)2 showed dramatically, and graphically, how the skulls of brachycephalic cats are actually deformed, especially the nose and jaw. These shocking images demonstrate the altered conformation and are a salutary reminder of how severely the normal skull structure has been changed.
Unfortunately breeds of cat and dog with flat faces are becoming more and more popular, and extremes (of an already abnormal anatomy) can become instant internet celebrities. These breeds and individuals often have large or prominent eyes which are considered by some to be ‘cute’ because they are baby-like, and the flattened face often has an up-turned or down-turned mouth, which gives it a human or cartoon characteristic of smiling or scowling, such as Grumpy Cat.
Claire Bessant, Chief Executive of International Cat Care said:“It is very depressing to see the life which has been deliberately dealt to some breeds of cats because of a human desire to develop a certain look. I urge cat lovers to speak out and help others to understand that this is not something we should be doing to cats, and not something we should be tolerating. One of the best and most beautifully naturally designed animals – the cat – would not normally have any of these problems; we have created them through selective breeding.
“We should not be encouraging people to breed these cats by calling them ‘cute’, by being amused at their facial characteristics, or by the fact that they snore – rather we need to understand that this is human intervention that is wholly detrimental to the welfare of the cats and is simply cruel. International Cat Care takes an ethical view of all cat breeds and our website outlines the problems that exist for some breeds, including very flat-faced cats in the Persians and Exotic breeds. Our stance is that we should never deliberately breed cats for any feature or characteristic that impairs their welfare.”
1. Farnworth MJ, et al. Flat feline faces: is brachycephaly associated with respiratory abnormalities in the domestic cat (Felis catus)? PLoS One 2016; 11: e0161777. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161777
2. Schlueter C, Budras KD, Ludewig E, et al. Brachycephalic feline noses: CT and anatomical study of the relationship between head conformation and the nasolacrimal drainage system. J Feline Med Surg 2009; 11: 891–900. DOI: 10.1016/j.jfms.2009.09.010.
A dog charity is looking for a new home for an energetic old dog who would like to teach his next owner some new tricks – like exactly when he wants a walk.
Finding Furever Homes (FFH), which sponsors kennels and foster homes for rescue dogs throughout Powys, Shropshire and surrounding areas, is hoping to find a suitable new home for their dog Malik, an 11-year-old black Staffordshire bull terrier, who is being fostered near Shrewsbury.
Malik was signed over to FFH after the family who had him for 11 years had a change in circumstances. Despite his age he still has plenty of energy and enjoys a good walk and to make sure whoever is looking after him does not forget when it is time to take him out.
Andrea Newton, founder of the charity, explains: “Malik is a lovely older dog who has the energy levels of a young animal and really loves his walks. He is such a character that when he is ready for a walk he will sit down towards the door and then he will move closer and closer until you get the hint – if you still don’t get the clue he will sit right by it and have a little moan so there is no danger of you forgetting to take him out.”
To make sure his next home is a lasting one, FFH want to find Malik a new home with experienced, committed owners, in a quiet house, preferably without young children so he can enjoy some quiet time.
Malik is well trained and friendly and knows all the basic commands. He is good with other dogs but as with all their animals FFH is happy to offer the services of a qualified behaviourist if it is needed to help him settle into a new home. In foster, Malik has proved he is well adjusted and sociable with other dogs and has shown no interest in chasing cats.
Although currently in foster in Shropshire, if the right person comes forward FFH are happy to rehome him anywhere in England and Wales.
Andrea added: “Malik is a lovely character who deserves a home of his own for the rest of his life and we would ask anyone interested in taking him on to visit our website and make sure they are ‘rescue ready’ and commit to him forever as he has had a lot of disruption in his life so far and he deserves a secure home.”