Emma Milne MRCVS, the erstwhile TV vet turned author and welfare campaigner has published Picking a Pedigree? a new book written to help people buy healthy cats and dogs and avoid the health problems and associated veterinary bills associated with certain breeds.

The book guides the reader through the evolutionary background of dogs and cats and explains how inherited diseases and deformities associated with certain breeds can cause breathing problems, heart disease, skin problems and back problems.

The book concludes with practical advice to help owners buy a healthy puppy or kitten and to avoid the risk of supporting puppy farms.

Emma said: "I’ve been campaigning on this issue for twenty years and, if anything the conformational issues and inherited disease problems in dogs and cats, are getting worse with some breeders striving for ever more extreme body shapes.

"Selecting a pet with inherited defects can cost thousands in vet bills and cause anguish for family members. It also creates a relinquishment problem for animal shelters as they have to take in abandoned pets with health problems.

"While awareness is certainly increasing, too often prospective pet owners are still unaware of the health implications of the pet they are buying and it is difficult for my veterinary colleagues to criticise the choice of a client’s puppy or kitten once it has been bought.  All too often though they are left to pick up the pieces."

Emma added: "Education is the key. It is vital that prospective owners understand why different body shapes could be detrimental to health and how far removed from nature some of our breeds now are. If we can encourage them to stop choosing the quirky extremes in some breeds, demand for them will soon fall. My message is simple – we should all prioritise health and temperament way above what animals look like.

"I hope that responsible prospective pet owners will find Picking a Pedigree? an enlightening read and that it will inform their choice of a new family member. I also hope that it will be a useful resource for vets and nurses to be able to recommend to reinforce their pre-purchase advice."