French bulldog has £4,000 operation to help her walk again

Mavis the French Bulldog has undergone spine surgery to help treat a degenerative disease she's living with

Mavis the French Bulldog has undergone spine surgery to help treat a degenerative disease she's living with - Credit: RSPCA

A four-year-old French bulldog has undergone a £4,000 spinal operation to help her walk again.

Mavis was taken in by the RSPCA in Suffolk in December 2021 when her back end became immobile due to a degenerative disease.

She suffers from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a degenerative condition likely caused by the way she has been bred and a campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the issue.

Her former owner could not afford the expensive surgery and signed Mavis over to the RSPCA.

Mavis was seen immediately by a local vet, who suspected a slipped disc in her spine and referred her to a specialist. 

Mavis the French Bulldog has undergone spine surgery to help treat a degenerative disease she's living with

The RSPCA say Mavis's health problems are likely due to the way she was Bred - Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA kennel supervisor Natalie Wood said: “Mavis was in a bad way and struggled to move. She had decompression spinal surgery - a specialist procedure that was carried out for intervertebral disc extrusion - and has, thankfully, been recovering really well in a foster home.

"Her mobility has been steadily improving and, although she had a long road still ahead of her, her physiotherapy has been progressing well."

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Although Mavis has made substantial improvements, the degenerative condition will impact her quality of life forever. 

Ms Wood continued: “Vets have suggested that Mavis will likely need to remain on the lead on walks for the rest of her life to prevent sudden bursts of running or jumping and she’ll never be able to undergo strenuous activity.

"She’ll always need assistance navigating the stairs and will also need to find a new home without any big or bouncy dogs to protect her back.”

Mavis is only one example of an increasing number of dogs who face severe health problems linked to how they have been selectively bred for extreme features.

The RSPCA's Save our Breath campaign is urging the public not to buy breeds that cannot live normal lives due to the way they've been selectively bred. 

This mostly impacts animals such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers, cavalier King Charles spaniels, and chow chows.

Persian cats and Norweigian dwarf rabbits are also affected.

The RSPCA has launched a campaign to convince people to stop buying brachycephalic dogs

The RSPCA has launched a campaign to convince people to stop buying brachycephalic dogs - Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “For years we have deliberately been breeding dogs in our pursuit for extreme body shapes including shorter, flatter faces.

"We’ve created generations who struggle to breathe, struggle with heat regulation, are chronically tired and can’t exercise without collapsing, and have to sleep with their head propped up on a pillow or with a toy in their mouth, just to help them breathe.

“In dogs, particularly, this has become such a huge welfare concern that we are left with only one option; to urge people not to buy them at all.

"Unfortunately, it is too risky to buy these pets because it is practically impossible to find a healthy one. This is a growing animal crisis and urgent intervention is required.”

Despite the RSPCA's concerns, the number of French bulldogs being registered with the Kennel Club increased by more than 1300% between 2011 and 2020. 

This is also reflected in the number of abandoned or signed over French bulldogs coming into RSPCA care, mostly due to the cost of the associated vet's bills.

Mavis the French Bulldog has undergone spine surgery to help treat a degenerative disease she's living with

Mavis is now looking for her forever home - Credit: RSPCA

Mavis is now looking for a new forever home, but the team at RSPCA Martlesham is struggling to find owners who are prepared to take her on and fund her future medical procedures. 

She is described as a sweet friendly dog but requires a quiet home without any other pets or children under eight, so she can continue to recover post-operation.

However, she is unlikely to be insurable, so new owners need to be aware of future costs linked to her spinal problems and be able to commit to ongoing physiotherapy. 

Dr Gaines added: “Mavis has had some UTIs and also has allergies so is on long-term medication and a special diet to help manage this.”

“Sadly her health problems are not unusual for this breed due to the way they’ve been bred over decades for exaggerated features eg. shorter noses, and other appearance-based reasons that have severely impacted their welfare.”