A bulldog puppy who needed a pillow to help her breathe at night has undergone a facelift to relieve pressure from her airways. One-year-old dog Tuna was rescued by the RSPCA in September last year, and has had the first of many operations to widen her nostrils and remove excess tissue.
The animal charity is warning owners about the risks linked with breeding dogs to have excess skin rolls. Vet nurse Katherine Maling said: “It’s disgusting that she even has to undergo these surgeries in order to be able to breathe and live her daily life. I can’t believe people are deliberately breeding dogs to be this way.
“It is not okay and we should be fighting against how this has become normal for these breeds.”
Tuna had her first operation last month and is being cared for at the RSPCA’s Blackberry Farm Animal Centre in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Katherine explained: “Tuna had facial-fold resection surgery – which is like a facelift – to remove some of the excess skin from around her face and muzzle.
“She snores extremely loudly and her body would strain for air when she was sleeping, she’d have to prop her head up on a pillow to help relieve some of the pressure on her airways.
“The ‘rope’ – or the roll of excess skin – around her nose was causing her a lot of issues, like sore skin and hot spots that often led to infections.”
Tuna also had an operation on her eyelids, as the weight of the skin made her eyes weep.
Katherine said: “Tuna has really been through it and is still recovering from such major surgery, involving several serious procedures.
“She still has more surgeries to come, too.
“Once she’s recovered from this, she’ll be going in for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome surgery which will help her breathe more normally by widening her nostrils and removing excess tissue from her soft palate, which blocks the airways.
“After all of these operations she will face a brighter future and will hopefully be able to lead a more ‘normal’ dog life.”
Unlike other puppies who have endless energy, Tuna gets tired easily and struggles to enjoy walks or play.
She has spent most of her early life visiting vets and having X-rays, and will continue to battle her health problems for the duration of her time.
“However, we hope she’ll be able to enjoy a more normal way of life; and we’ll do everything we can for her to make sure she’s comfortable and happy,” Katherine said.
Tuna’s surgery has racked up thousands of pounds already and she’s only 14-months-old.
“She’s also very lucky to have access to a vet who specialises in these surgeries as they are very complex, and also incredibly expensive,” Katherina added.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines commented: “Our focus on dogs’ appearance and a desire for ‘cute’ squishy faces has led to breeders selecting dogs with increasingly flatter faces which has caused a whole generation of certain breeds who struggle to breathe.
“Some dogs can’t sleep while others can only exercise for very short periods of time as they quickly tire and get out of breath.
“Some can’t run and play with their doggy friends, and many find the hot weather incredibly difficult.
“Unfortunately, some of these dogs also face other health problems, like serious skin infections and allergies due to their folds of fur, as well as eye problems, and painful back conditions caused by corkscrew tails.
“We understand why there is so much love out there for these breeds. But it’s wrong that we’re knowingly breeding for and buying because of features which compromise their health, behaviour and welfare; and it’s time we put a stop to this.”