RSPCA issues warning over dog breed as pet faces ‘life of health problems’

RSPCA launch Cancel Out Cruelty campaign

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Tuna came into the RSPCA’s care in September 2021 as part of an animal welfare investigation. The young bulldog was taken in by vet nurse Katherine Maling, who works at the charity’s Blackberry Farm Animal Centre in Buckinghamshire.

Ms Maling said Tuna has already spent much of her early life on visits to the vets as she struggles to breathe due to her flat face.

She said: “We’ll do whatever we can to make Tuna as comfortable as possible and to ensure she has the very best quality of life but the reality is that she’ll sadly likely face a life of health problems due to the extreme way she’s been bred.

“Tuna isn’t like the other youngsters she meets; they have endless energy while she gets tired easily, they’re fit and healthy, while she’s spent much of her early life seeing vets and having x-rays already.

“It breaks my heart that her life will always be impacted simply because people wanted to create a dog who looked a certain way.”

Tuna is one of a growing number of flat-faced dogs coming into the RSPCA’s care with health issues caused by the way they have been bred to have short muzzles and squashed faces.

Ms Maling said: “Tuna is likely to need surgery in the future to widen her nostrils and remove excess tissue from inside her airways to help her to breathe better.

“While the surgery can significantly improve these dogs’ quality of life it isn’t a guarantee and she’s got a fight on her paws.

“She’ll need specialist care and close monitoring for her whole life so I’ve decided that, as a vet nurse who can give her that, she’ll be staying with me permanently.

“Tuna currently only displays breathing issues when she’s sleeping; she snores extremely loudly and while many flat-faced dog owners think this is adorable, it’s actually their body straining for air.

“She also struggles with sleep apnea and struggles to get comfy on flat beds so has to sleep with her head propped up on something so it’s higher than her body.

“When we’re walking she’ll pant more than other dogs and I’m particularly concerned about her as the weather hots up; it’s likely she’ll have to stay in on any warm days as heat stroke is an increased risk in flat-faced breeds.”

The RSPCA has launched its Save Our Breath campaign urging the public not to buy brachycephalic breeds such as British bulldogs, French bulldogs and pugs.

The charity is asking people to consider choosing another breed or a crossbreed that has a lower risk of health issues.

RSPCA chief vet Caroline Allen said: “Our desire for cuteness and the selection for shorter, flatter faces – known as brachycephaly – has resulted in dogs who struggle to breathe.

“Their excessive soft tissue causes obstruction in their airways and their abnormally narrowed nostrils and windpipes leave them gasping for air.

“Struggling to breathe, or even sleep is very distressing and affected dogs are struggling with this every day, with serious impacts on their welfare.

“They also face eye problems, skin concerns due to excessive wrinkles, and painful back conditions due to 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 features which compromise their basic health and welfare.”

It comes as the number of British bulldog puppies being registered with the Kennel Club increased by 149 percent between 2011 and 2020, while the number of French bulldogs registered soared by 1,317 percent.

The RSPCA fears more flat-faced animals could be abandoned amid the cost of living crisis as owners face expensive vets bills.

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