As social media gives more and more people celebrity status, it’s not a surprise that as a nation of dog lovers, our four-legged friends are now getting in on the act.

Across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube top dogs are gaining epic celebrity status. Favourites include Doug the Pug with more than 12 million followers, a self-proclaimed King of Pop Culture, Manny the Frenchie who has 3 million followers and Marnie the Shih Tzu, a 17-year-old rescue dog, who has a growing 1.3 million followers.

However, many of these breeds – known as brachycephalic dogs – suffer with a multitude of problematic health complications. Known and loved for their body shape, wide skull and stubby noses, these dogs can suffer from breathing problems associated with restricted airways causing laboured breathing, snorting and wheezing, as well as eye ulcers and infected wrinkled skin folds.

Their rise to social media fame has helped to contribute to a steady increase in the popularity of these breeds as pets with Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Affenpinschers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos and Griffon Bruxellois among the nation’s favourites.

The Animal Health Trust Small Animal Referral Centre, in Newmarket has the health and welfare of animals at its heart. It has launched a new specialist clinic to help keep these breeds in top dog condition. The clinic offers owners much needed support and veterinary specialist services and is keen to share advice.

“Owners should be vigilant and made aware of the signs and symptoms associated with Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome – the name given to the problems which can arise  from the conformation of these breeds” commented Dr Jane Ladlow, who recently returned to the Animal Health Trust, heading up its Soft Tissue Surgery team, at the Small Animal Referral Centre.

She continued: “I’m delighted to be back at the Animal Health Trust, where the original airway studies were started’

Bringing a wealth of experience Dr Jane Ladlow is a Royal College and European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery.  She is interested in all aspects of soft tissue surgery, particularly oncological and respiratory cases.

She is also a leading expert in the health issues associated with brachycephalic dogs and her clinical research interests are brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome recognition and diagnosis. Specifically, her current research is in non-invasive assessment of respiratory function in the brachycephalic breeds, particularly French Bulldogs, Pugs and Bulldogs using a plethysmography chamber.

“We are delighted to welcome Jane back on board and announce the introduction of a new world-class service at the AHT Small Animal Referral Centre specifically for brachycephalic dogs. This will complement the veterinary services already offered by the team which include amongst others oncological, respiratory, abdominal and thoracic surgery.” commented Mark Shea, AHT Hospital Director, Small Animal Referral Centre

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome – clinical signs and symptoms

  • Breathing difficulty –open-mouth breathing.
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Heat intolerance
  • Regurgitation and vomiting
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Fatigue and collapse

Contact your primary vet if you suspect your dog may have any of the above symptoms, who can speak directly to the AHT’s Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Unit for advice and make a referral if required.

The Small Animal Referral Centre offers state of the art diagnostic investigation, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day the Suffolk clinic is a UK veterinary centre of excellence treating animals from all over the UK. Visit their website for more information.


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