Not just for posh pooches and pedigrees: ‘Do your bit’ for dog health by recommending pre-mating health testing whenever relevant, urges BVA

01 January 2019

70% of small animal vets very often or always see puppies without the relevant pre-mating screening tests

Vets are being asked to ‘do their bit'
for dog health by ensuring they recommend pre-mating health tests to owners and
breeders who may be unaware their dogs need them.

The appeal comes as new statistics
reveal that 70% of small animal vets very often or always see puppies without
the relevant pre-mating screening tests. The
Canine Health Schemes enable breeders to screen for inherited diseases,
including hip and elbow dysplasia, inherited eye diseases and

Awareness of the tests is particularly
low among owners of ‘designer crossbreeds', such as labradoodles and cockapoos,
with 77% of the vets reporting that few or none of their clients with such
breeds are even aware of the tests.

British Veterinary Association Junior
Vice President Daniella Dos Santos said:

“We're celebrating Canine Health Schemes
Month this January, hoping to raise awareness of the vital role these schemes
can play in improving dog health. We hope that our members who treat dogs will
do their bit by talking about the schemes with any owner who may intend to
breed from their pedigree or at-risk crossbreed dog.

“Vets in practice regularly see cases of
debilitating and distressing inherited conditions but we know that many people
may wrongly believe these tests are only relevant for Kennel Club-registered
pedigrees and that crossbreed owners may be especially unaware of the dangers.

"Pre-mating screening helps
breeders make the best possible choices as part of a responsible breeding
programme. If we want to reduce the suffering caused by painful inherited
diseases, then these tests are key. We cannot just rely on breeders to seek out
the tests they need, vets and the veterinary team are perfectly placed to
encourage conversations about the need for pre-mating tests and to raise
awareness of the Canine Health Schemes and The Puppy Contract among buyers and

The results from the Voice of the
Veterinary Profession Survey Autumn 2018 also revealed that 90% of vets working
with companion animals see cases of lameness or joint pain related to hip
dysplasia and elbow dysplasia every month. The survey, carried out in October
2018, revealed vets treat an average of 90 cases of lameness each year relating
to hip dysplasia and 64 cases each year relating to elbow dysplasia. The most
commonly seen breeds with both conditions were Labradors, with popular Labrador
crossbreeds also identified as frequently affected by many vets.

One in three of the vets also reported
seeing cases of hereditary eye disease on at least a monthly basis, with an
average of 11 cases being treated per year, most commonly involving Spaniels
and Collies.

The Hereditary Eye Disease Scheme and the Hip
Dysplasia Scheme have each been working to improve dog welfare for over 50
years, with thousands of dogs being screened in that time.
The introduction of digital applications last year made it easier than
ever for vets to submit x-rays to the Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Schemes and over
30% of submissions are now online.

Related links

Related BVA policy