The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched a campaign to encourage dog owners to avoid choosing appearance over welfare when they bring home their next pet, raising awareness of the issues that brachycephalic animals have to live with because of how they’re bred. In the last decade, there has been a steep rise in the number of these breeds here in the UK. Brachycephaly is a short skull shape which can give the appearance of a flattened face, affecting not just dogs but cats, rabbits and other species as well. Problems associated with the condition include overheating, regurgitation, sleep apnoea, eye disease, dental problems, skin infections and the inability to mate or give birth naturally, which Caesarean sections often required. The BVA has been speaking to media outlets over the last 12 months to raise awareness of these problems, as well as major retailers and organisations that use these breeds in advertising asking them to consider the health problems the animals suffer from. Animal lovers are now being asked to get in touch with brands directly as part of the #BreedToBreathe campaign, as well as keeping the conversation going using this hashtag on social media sites like Twitter. Last year, the BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey found that there has been a significant increase in the levels of concern regarding breeds like pugs and French bulldogs, with 45 per cent of companion animal vets saying this, as well as pedigree breeding and conformational deformities, are among the welfare issues that worry them the most.