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Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Syndrome In Dogs

Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Syndrome In Dogs

What Is Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs?

If your dog has a "squished snout" (short muzzle) or squashed face look with wrinkled mugs, you may have noticed their health issues too (snoring and breathing issues).

Many brachycephalic breeds are affected by early-onset, lifelong respiratory abnormalities that result in upper airway obstruction called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).

This disorder arises because they have been bred to have a mismatch in the proportions of the skull i.e. a normal lower jaw (proportionate to body size) and a compressed upper jaw.

This is not breed-bashing but in order to get this cosmetic appearance, breeders have compromised these dogs in many important ways, and you as an owner must be aware of the special needs of your pet.

What Are The Symptoms Of Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs?

Initial signs may include:

  • The high degree of snorting and sputtering
  • Snoring while asleep
  • Wheezing, labored breathing (increased effort)
  • Sensitive gag reflex
  • Gagging or retching, particularly while swallowing
  • Narrowed nostrils (stenotic nares)
  • Cyanosis (Bluetongue and gums)
  • Collapse or Fainting episodes
  • Exercise intolerance (tiring easily)
  • Sleep apnea

Progressive or later signs can include:

  • Inflammation of other structures in the airways
  • Ulcerated lesions with or without discharge
  • Entropion
  • Nasal fold irritation, lesions, large papules
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca(dry eye)
  • Periodontal disease (due to crowded teeth)
  • Eye-popping from socket (risk of proptosis)

How Is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome In Dogs Treated?

In most cases, the brachycephalic syndrome cannot be treated effectively.

When the symptoms get worse over time or cause life-threatening obstruction to the airways, surgical intervention is the only way available but sometimes, additional surgical procedures may need to be performed.

The necessity of surgery will be determined by you and your veterinarian if your dog's quality of life is being adversely impacted by the brachycephalic symptoms.

BOAS surgery typically involves:

  1. laryngeal sacculectomy-removal of laryngeal saccules.
  2. Alarplasty ( nostrils widening procedure).
  3. soft palate resection-decrease of the soft palate.

What Are The Home Remedies For Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs?

Heat: Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to warm or hot environments. Dogs lack normal sweat glands and they usually pant to regulate their heat. Compromised trachea and blocked nasal passages (due to their inherited facial structure) mean that brachycephalic dog breeds are ineffective in panting.

This means a rise in temperature or summertime can cause significant dangers to their health such as heat stroke, exacerbated by dehydration.

What are the heat stress levels for these dogs?

Studies reveal that even 62 percent relative humidity and 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) are close to overheating for brachycephalic dogs.

Pay attention to a few things such as:

  • Providing access to 24/7 cool water.
  • Take shorter, slower walks in the early morning or evening (during the cooler parts of the day).
  • Don't use an airway restricting collar. Use a harness instead.
  • Do Not leave the dogs outside for long even if you have shady areas outside.
  • Invest in a comfy cooling pad.
  • Weight management is really important.

How To Prevent Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs?

Many veterinary experts are calling for an anti-brachycephaly push for the cessation of breeding these characteristics into breeds. This selective breeding results in serious health issues, including brachycephalic syndrome.

A 2015 Royal Veterinary College report purposely called for the change of perception about short muzzles as attractive by breeders and owners. They were bred unsympathetically with grave problems deprived of a regular, broad, free-flowing respiratory tract.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) raised the same question of the increasing popularity of brachycephalic breeds despite their increased health risk should be looked into.

Dog Breeds Affected By Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs

Brachycephalic Breeds, Flat Faced Dog Breeds, Bulldog, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Boxer, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Pug, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Bull Mastiff

What Health Problems Do Brachycephalic Dogs Have?

The brachycephalic syndrome includes one or more of these abnormalities:

  • Stenotic nares: Snub-nosed dogs have malformed or narrow nostrils making it difficult for your pet to breathe.
  • Elongated soft palate: The soft tissue on the roof of the mouth beyond the hard palate causes obstruction to the trachea.
  • Hypoplastic trachea: Overlap or fusing of the cartilaginous rings resulting in tracheal narrowing.
  • Everted laryngeal saccules: The small Laryngeal saccules located near the dog's vocal folds and the larynx become everted (or turned outwards) and pulled into the trachea additionally obstructing the airflow.

When Should You See A Vet If Your Dog Is Brachycephalic?

Undoubtedly, brachycephalic dog breeds are cute, often described as cool, comical, and caring. In spite of all this, most flat-faced dog breeds will really need medical intervention at some point in their lives.

However, if you are considering getting a brachycephalic dog, it's important to recognize and appreciate the problems associated with it.

Diet And Food Suggestions For Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs

Foods to avoid:

  • Spicy foods, Greasy, fatty, and fried foods, and Allergens (gluten, soy, and dairy).
  • Eliminate colorings, preservatives, additives, and flavors from your pet's diet.
  • Avoid Late-night feedings.

What to feed?

High-quality protein sources: Lean boiled meats- chicken, beef, turkey, or lamb.

Fiber-rich foods: Apples, pears, oatmeal, and other foods.

Vitamin A: spinach, cantaloupe, carrots, and beef liver.

Vitamin C: red bell pepper, strawberries, kiwis, etc.,

Nutrition guidelines you may like to consider:

  • 40% protein - animal meat, seafood, dairy, eggs.
  • 50% fresh vegetables.
  • 10% carbohydrates - brown rice, Barley (pearled), grains.
  • Fatty acids - cooked egg yolks, plant oils, sunflower, corn.
  • Avoid trans fat, a small amount of beef fat, and steak fat.
  • Calcium - powdered or crushed eggshells, supplements.
  • Antioxidant foods.


If you are considering getting one, know the pros/cons of brachycephalic breeds.

Their cute smooshy faces attract a lot of people. Coupled with their cheerful outlook, what's not to love?

With regular veterinarian checkups, these dogs can still live regular, cheerful lives with proper care.

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