When Frank first came to Blue Cross, the poor boy couldn’t see or breathe properly, and was clearly in a lot of discomfort.
The four-year-old bulldog was suffering from a long list of medical problems thought to be related to irresponsible breeding, and was in desperate need of surgery to improve his quality of life.
His worried owners, who rehomed him as an adult dog, brought him to our Merton animal hospital with painful ulcers on his eyeballs, skin and ear infections and a partially blocked airway, which meant he was fighting for breath.
Emmeline Macedo, Deputy Nurse Manager at our Merton animal hospital, explained: “His owners had been looking after him really well but he has chronic skin disease due to his skin folds – bacteria and yeasts breed easily in the warm, moist folds of skin causing infection and discomfort.
“He has deformities of his eye causing the eyelids to roll inwards and the eyelashes to rub on the surface of the eye, causing pain and ulcers to develop on the eye surface.
“He also has what's known as ‘cherry eye’ – caused by a defect in a gland in the corner of the eye – as well as suffering from frequent ear infections due to the small size and shape of his ear canals.
“In addition to all that, he has airway problems which are common to short-nosed breeds which mean that he struggles to breathe and does so very noisily."
After being examined by one of our vets, she decided that Frank was going to need a lot of medical and surgical treatment.
"He is a lovely, bright and intelligent dog and we were eager to help him as much as we could," said Emmeline."Firstly, our team gave him antibiotics and steroids for his skin and medication to treat his eyes. He then underwent surgery to open up his airways under general anaesthetic."
The operation is a complex procedure, and involved widening the nostrils so Frank could inhale more air when he breathes, and also cutting a section of the soft palate at the back of his mouth which was causing an obstruction.
And once he had recovered from this surgery, he was booked in for what was effectively the canine version of a ‘face lift’.
Emmeline explained: “Bulldogs are bred to have lots of skin folds around their faces and Frank was born with a very large roll of skin above his nose which caused very deep creases prone to infection and were so large it was difficult to see his eyes.
“The vet removed this fold surgically. This would also make it easier to treat his eyes and he would be able to see where he was going!”
Frank is now on the mend but there's a chance he will need an additional operation carried out on his airway in the future.
Emmeline said: “Frank recovered very well from both surgeries and continues to receive treatment for his eyes, skin and ears.
“He will most likely need this for the rest of his life, but his quality of life has certainly improved and he can breathe much more easily.
“This sort of treatment would cost many hundreds of pounds in a private veterinary practice, and it’s all down to the anatomy and body shape of his breed.
“He can’t be completely cured forever and we can only help dogs like Frank to live a happier, healthier life with the help of our donors.”
Vet Caroline Reay added: “Like Frank, many of the dogs that we see with these breed related problems are very cute, appealing and fashionable.
“It’s so sad that they often have problems which can’t totally be cured but which impact their quality of life.
“They can be very costly to treat and so in many cases may not get taken to the vet. It’s lucky for Frank that we were able to help.”