Do short-nosed dogs and cats have more trouble breathing?

Over recent years there has been an increasing trend for short or flat faced (brachycephalic) dog and cat breeds.

Their flatter face shape and large eyes means they are perceived as cute and they are often seen, sometimes dressed up, in the arms of celebrities which again can them a 'must have'. Unfortunately the breeding of an extreme head and face shape has led to medical problems.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a serious condition affecting flat faced animals. The shortened nose shape is often accompanied by small nostrils, a long, thickened soft palate, misaligned teeth, and a narrow trachea (windpipe). Because all of these components it makes it more difficult to breathe, in situations of exercise, stress, or heat, the dog is unable to take effective breaths leading to distress and further increases respiratory rate and heart rate, creating a vicious circle that can quickly lead to a life-threatening situation. The altered anatomy can also lead to digestive problems, sore skin, damaged eyes and difficulty in giving birth.

A variety of dog breeds are affected including the Pug, Shih Tzu, Boston Terriers and Bulldogs and mastiff breeds. The risk of BOAS increases as the muzzle becomes shorter. Persian cats and other similar breeds can also be affected by the condition.

A quarter of the UK’s most popular breeds are now affected by brachycephaly. This growth was predominantly fuelled by a significant increase in the popularity of French Bulldogs. According to Kennel Club (KC) registration figures (124 KB PDF) French bulldogs, for example, are now 31 times more popular than they were in 2007. Their registrations rose by 38% in 2014 – that’s an increase of around 3,000 puppies. And by an astonishing 51% in 2015.

Pug and Bulldog numbers increased too, by 9% and 17% respectively. Bulldog numbers increased significantly and they leapt from the no. 9 slot to no. 7 in KC figures.

In 2013 there were 20,830 brachycephalic puppies among the top ten most popular breeds. 2014 saw this number rise to 24,873. And in 2015 it rose even more steeply to 31,654 puppies. Brachycephalic puppies accounted for 18% of puppies registered in the top ten most popular breeds in 2013. This rose to 21% in 2014 and to 26% in 2015.

BAOS affects animals from early in their lives, and is a life-long and progressively-worsening condition. Surgery can reduce the severity of signs but never cure the problems.

As the condition is genetic (passed down from the parents) careful choice of dogs used for breeding is vital. Both as a breeder and when purchasing a dog it is really important to look for more moderate features rather than selecting for an extremely short or flat face. The health and wellbeing of the animal must always supercede the wish for a 'cute' face.

I have found a racing pigeon, what should I do?

We often get calls about pigeons that have been hanging around in a garden for a while. It is likely to be a racing pigeon and will generally look a bit different to a wild pigeon/will have a ring on its leg.

It is most likely that it that has got lost or blown off course and come down to recover enough energy to continue its journey. This will normally take 3 – 5 days. In this case it is best to leave it well alone, as whilst it may not be able to fly home it will be able to get itself out of danger by flying into a tree or onto a wall or fence.

If you do feed it, you should give it bird seed or uncooked rice or lentils, and also also provide water in a deep dish. You should not feed bread to a racing pigeon.

Once the bird has been fed for at least 3 days stop feeding it, which will encourage it to fly home.

If all these steps have been taken and the bird has not flown away you can report it as a stray on the Royal Pigeon Racing Association website. You will need to get the ring number from the bird’s leg-ring and go to

You shouldn’t have any problem catching it as they are used to being handled and quite tame!

If the bird is injured then it will need to be put into a box and taken to a vet. As before there shouldn’t be an issues catching it.

If you are unable to take it to a vet, then please call Wadars on 01903 247111 and we will arrange collection.

This advice complies with advice given on the RPRA web-site.

I think I have a bird or small animal in my chimney, how can I get it removed?

If there is a gas fire in place, the first thing you need to do is call Transco to come and disconnect it. The Transco number is 0800 111 999.

If there is not a gas fire but there is a board or air vent over the chimney breast, can it be easily removed? If so, it is possible that one of our Animal Rescue Officers will be able to come out and remove it/release the animal.

If the chimney is bricked-up, you will need to make a hole so that the bird/animal can be let out - unfortunately this is not something that Wadars would be able to help with.

If you do manage to remove the bird or animal but it is injured, then again it will need to be taken to a vet. If in doubt please call Wadars on 01903 247111 and we will be able to advise you on next steps.

A bird has found its way into my house and is now flying around. How can we get it back out?

If a bird has found its way into your property, the first step is to darken the room that it is in, leaving only an 'exit route' illuminated. For example, open one window as wide as possible and draw the curtains on any other windows/doors, leaving only the window with the light coming in visible.

Nine times out of ten the bird will see the light or feel the air coming in through the window and make its own way out. It is important to leave the room for a while so as not to frighten the bird.

If you are still unable to get the bird out then contact Wadars on 01903 247111 and where possible we will ask one of our Animal Rescue Officers to come and take a look.

I have a wasp nest in my house, what should I do?

Wasps need to be dealt with by a licensed pest-controller.

The pest control department at Adur & Worthing Council can be contacted on 01903 221064. Arun District Council can be contacted on 01903 737755. Both Council's should be able to give you a list of people who can help.

We have a 'nuisance' fox that regularly visits our garden, can Wadars please come and remove it?

We often have calls from people who don’t want foxes in their garden. If it is a case of the fox just visiting the garden on its way to somewhere else, then there are a couple of things you can do to discourage them.

You could put extra hot chilli pepper/curry powder around the perimeter as they don't like the smell. You could also move garden furniture and/or flower pots around as this lets the fox know that the garden is being used and might help to make them avoid it in future.

We are unable to relocate foxes as it actually against the law for us to do so unless it is sick or injured (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).