Polly the pug can finally breathe after life-changing surgery amid RSPCA warning on flat-faced dogs

Polly is recovering well after major surgery to clear her airways Credit: Picture: RSPCA

A pug who came into the care of RSPCA Brighton following a history of neglect can finally breathe properly after a major operation.

Four-year-old Polly had a difficult start to life. After she came into the care of the RSPCA Brighton branch in January this year, it soon became clear she had severe issues with her breathing which were impacting her quality of life.

She suffers from BOAS - Brachycephalic Obstructive Airways Syndrome - which frequently affects flat-faced dogs. 

RSPCA Brighton branch manager Jenny Eden said: “Polly had surgery to clear her airways but sadly her condition was so severe she needed further treatment.

“She needed two procedures to correct the abnormal and excess tissue present simply because of deliberate breeding."

Polly the pug is settling in with her new owner Kirsty Gibbons and her existing pug Indie Credit: Picture: RSPCA

Kirsty Gibbons, who has adopted Polly, said: “I first saw Polly on the RSPCA website where they had described her breathing difficulties that had been debilitating, what I can only expect to be her whole life. 

 “I offered to foster Polly whilst she awaited her life-changing surgery as I couldn’t bear the thought of her recovering in the kennels. 

 “When I first brought Polly home, she was scared of a lot of things, was unable to settle and highly reactive to noise and movements. 

 “I had to monitor every interaction between my other pug, Indie, and Polly as the slightest bit of play caused Polly to gasp for air and her tongue would turn blue through lack of oxygen.

Thankfully, four weeks post-surgery, and after some complications, Polly is thriving in her new home.

“She is finally able to keep up on walks with Indie and is able to breathe easily," says Kirsty.

“We are discovering all new play noises that she makes when she is happy and excited that she was unable to make before. 

“Polly is relaxed, happy and full of life since her surgery in such a short amount of time, I’m sure she’ll continue to get better. We love having her a part of our family and can’t imagine a home without her.”

The RSPCA is seeing increasing numbers of flat-faced dogs with serious breathing issues Credit: Picture: RSPCA

The RSPCA has launched a new campaign Save Our Breath urging the public not to buy breeds who cannot live normal lives due to the irresponsible way they’ve been selectively bred.

RSPCA Brighton branch manager Jenny Eden says the number of dogs with problems is on the rise: “We are seeing an increasing number of dogs with BOAS - four in the last six months just at our branch - as popular flat-faced breeds are being given up.”

It comes as the popularity of flat-faced dogs, like pugs, has surged, often driven by celebrity owners, social media and their use in advertising.

With the huge rise in demand for pets during lockdown there are fears that more brachycephalic dogs, cats and rabbits will have been bred, resulting in even more sickly animals who require expensive veterinary treatment to help them carry out the simplest of everyday tasks such as walking and playing. 

And the RSPCA fears that more of these animals could be abandoned or relinquished to charity as their owners struggle to cope with costly veterinary bills amid the soaring cost of living.

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.

“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.”

The RSPCA says the public has an important role to play in helping to improve the future health of these breeds, by recognising the serious health issues they face.

The animal charity wants people to consider getting an alternative breed or consider a crossbreed that has a lower risk of problems.