1 April 2022

Ethicist’s commentary on respiratory issues of brachycephalic dog breeds

Chihuahua and bulldog puppy
📷 cynoclub // Colourbox.com

Ethical question of the month, January 2022

You are the owner of a multi-veterinarian companion animal practice. All your staff have firsthand experience with the deaths of brachiocephalic dogs due to respiratory failure. Certain deaths were especially traumatic because the dog was either happy when it entered the hospital, but decompensated, despite everyone’s best efforts, during the day or had left the hospital in good condition and died at an emergency facility overnight. The entire hospital staff have had multiple discussions about the possibility of no longer performing general anesthesia on brachycephalic dogs and have decided on a very strict policy of making owners aware of the risks whenever these dogs are admitted to the hospital.

The hospital advises clients to avoid these breeds when asked and warns the owners of new brachiocephalic puppies of potential future risks as well as advising corrective surgery when appropriate. After a long search, you hire a much-needed additional veterinarian. A month later you stumble across the fact that your new veterinarian is an English bulldog breeder when they mention that the breed association would like to see the cost of corrective surgery decreased so that more puppy owners would take advantage of it. What do you do?

Clare Palmer, Peter Sandøe, & Dan Weary comment on this dilemma and you can read it here: Ethicist’s commentary on respiratory issues of brachycephalic dog breed (pdf)