BVA reveals concerns for dog health and welfare – is data the answer?

07 April 2016

Two-thirds of vets (67%) saw dogs that required conformation altering surgeries and caesareans in the last year, according to the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) latest Voice of the Veterinary Profession Survey - highlighting the prevalence of serious dog health and welfare issues that necessitate surgical interventions. 

Every year the Kennel Club receives over 3,200 data submissions from both vets and dog owners about conformation altering surgeries and caesareans carried out on Kennel Club registered dogs. Sharing data about conformation altering surgeries and caesareans is vital to help build a picture of the current situation, and facilitate measures to improve health and welfare for future generations of dogs.

The information collected by the Kennel Club provides details of breeding lines appearing to perpetuate certain defects. For example, data submitted for caesareans prevents the registration of puppies born to a bitch that has already had two litters delivered by caesarean section while data submitted for conformation altering surgeries allows the Kennel Club to make decisions on whether or not to allow affected dogs to be entered for shows. In the longer term, measures implemented by the Kennel Club will include analysis of all submitted data to create a research database that will provide an evidence-base to influence the future of dog welfare. 

When asked about operations carried out on Kennel Club registered dogs, the majority of vets said that they do submit data on conformation altering surgeries (60%) and caesareans (65%) however 15% of survey respondents revealed that they never submit data. Those vets who do not always report gave ‘time’ as the main reason for not doing so.

Submitting data to the Kennel Club

BVA is working with its members to raise awareness of the Kennel Club’s new online system, which takes a few minutes to complete, to encourage a data drive that could reduce avoidable hereditary problems, prevent further lifelong discomfort and suffering, and improve health and welfare for dogs.

BVA President Sean Wensley said:

“Vets are seeing concerning trends in dog health and welfare, especially with the current public want for designer dogs and brachycephalic breeds, so the need for a record of conformation altering surgeries and caesareans carried out in daily practice has never been more important. Owners can submit data on their dogs’ operations yet data from veterinary practices is vital for the Kennel Club’s evidence base as it offers additional validity that many owners are not able to provide, ensuring robust and informative data for now and the future.”

In the Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, vets shared other reasons for not always submitting data on conformation altering surgeries and caesareans, including: 

  • Not knowing if the dog is registered with the Kennel Club, or the owners failing to provide registration detail
  • Uncertainty around breaching client confidentiality
  • Believing it is not necessary for cases that are unrelated to hereditary problems

Support and resources for BVA members

BVA is urging vets and practice teams to recognise the importance of submitting this data and to work with their clients to ensure delivery of the best welfare outcomes for dogs. To support its members, BVA has compiled FAQs on conformation altering surgery (194 KB PDF) and will be taking further questions to the Kennel Club Dog Health Group.

To assist with the process of data submission in daily practice, BVA has developed a poster that can be downloaded on the dog health policy page.

Related BVA policy

BVA Media Office