How we can help brachycephalic breed dogs

March 15, 2023

Brachycephalic or ‘flat-faced’ dogs are popular family pets that include Pugs, English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs. If you or someone you know owns a brachycephalic dog, you may have heard talk of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) which refers to the group of conditions resulting from breathing difficulties caused by the short nose and narrow airways of these breeds. Research suggests more than 40% of English bulldogs, 50% of French Bulldogs and 60% of Pugs would benefit from surgery to help treat BOAS and widen their airways.

Short noses mean that the soft tissue that usually sits comfortably inside a dog’s nose and mouth, has to fit into a much smaller space. This results in very narrow airways inside the nose and an over-long soft palate (the roof of the mouth) which can obstruct the back of their throat and causes snoring and snorting sounds commonly heard in these dogs. Other signs of BOAS include difficulty breathing during exercise, poor tolerance to heat, retching/vomiting and sleeping with a toy in their mouth or with their head propped up.

If left untreated, over time, the narrow airways and breathing difficulties can result in secondary respiratory, digestive and heart diseases which further worsens the BOAS. This why early intervention is key to minimising the effects of BOAS and stopping disease progression. Some dogs may only need lifestyle changes to manage their BOAS, such as keeping slim and avoiding hot weather. However more severely affected dogs may require surgery to widen their airways and improve their ability to breathe.

The most accurate way of knowing which dogs would benefit from treatment is by doing a non-invasive respiratory function assessment in which a vet listens to a dog’s breathing sounds before and after an exercise tolerance test. We recommend that all brachycephalic breed dogs have an assessment starting from one year old as if needed, airway surgery can greatly improve their quality of life. The cost of an assessment is the same as a standard veterinary consultation and are free to Lifetime Care Club Gold Members, with 20% off for LCC Kite Members.

Booking an Exercise Tolerance Test is very easy – please give our Reception Team a call. You should allow half an hour for your visit as you will be asked to complete a short-survey upon arrival as well as the 20 minute test itself. Appointments are available at Cholsey, Didcot Park Road or Great Western Park.

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