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Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

Dogs of certain breeds may have a higher risk of developing unique health conditions, especially those with short snouts. Our vets in Kennesaw provide information on this condition, including signs to look out for and treatment options available. 

What is Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome?

When dissecting the term brachycephalic, we can break it into the two parts that make up the word. The first part of the word, brachy, means shortened, and the second part, the cephalic means head. Based on this, the term brachycephalic as a whole means shortened head, which is exactly how you would describe these breeds of dog. These are the types of dogs that those smooshed in faces that many of us adore. Unfortunately, these unique characteristics also can have an adverse effect on the health of these dogs.

The veterinary term for the condition that these dogs experience is brachycephalic airway syndrome, which refers to the upper airway abnormalities affecting these breeds. Some of these abnormalities are:

Stenotic nares: If a dog is experiencing stenotic nares it will have abnormally narrowed or small nostrils restricting the airflow into the nostrils.

Extended nasopharyngeal turbinates: Nasopharyngeal turbinates are tissue-covered bone ridges that help warm and humidify the air the dog breathes in. However, when these are too long, they can cause a blockage affecting the airflow.

Elongated soft palate: A dog that has an elongated soft palette can have their windpipe partially blocked, causing an obstruction.

Laryngeal collapse: When chronic stress is put on the dog's larynx, it can result in laryngeal collapse. As this collapse occurs, it will cause a restriction in airflow.

Everted laryngeal saccules: The laryngeal saccules are small sacs or pouches within the larynx which may be sucked into the airway, causing an obstruction.

Hypoplastic trachea: If a dog is experiencing hypoplastic trachea, it means that their trachea has a smaller than average diameter.

Other Problems Caused By Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic airway syndrome has been linked to changes in the lungs as well as in the gastrointestinal tract, including:

  • bronchial collapse
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • chronic gastritis.

In bronchial collapse, a further obstruction is caused by the bronchi weakening and collapsing when your dog's intestinal fluids flow back into their esophagus.

Dog Breeds With a High Risk of Developing Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

  • Bulldogs (French and English)
  • Boxer Dogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Pekingese
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Pugs
  • Shih Tzus
  • Bull Mastiffs

Symptoms Of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

Brachycephalic dogs may experience symptoms such as:

  • They may have noisy breathing, especially when they breathe in
  • They may gag when they are swallowing
  • These dogs may have the inability to partake in exercise
  • Cyanosis causing blue tongue and gums related to the lack of oxygen
  • The dog may occasionally collapse, especially with over-activity, excitement, or excessive heat or humidity
  • Dogs suffering from obesity will be at a greater risk

Many brachycephalic dogs have a preference for sleeping on their backs. This position provides the opportunity for the soft palette to fall away from the larynx.

Diagnosis Of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

When it comes to diagnosing brachycephalic airway syndrome in dogs, the specific abnormalities affecting the animal will determine the diagnostic process. While stenotic nares can be detected through a physical examination, other abnormalities may require the dog to be put under general anesthesia.

Your veterinarian may also recommend a chest X-ray to aid in the diagnosis. 

How Successful is Surgery For Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs?

Early diagnosis and treatment usually yield a better prognosis. Surgery is the most common form of treatment for brachycephalic airway syndrome., as it can correct the abnormalities and improve the dog's breathing ability.

However, there is a risk of swelling at the incision site after surgery. Your vet will closely monitor your dog to ensure their breathing is not affected during recovery. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog brachycephalic and experiencing the symptoms listed above? Book an appointment with our vets at North Cobb Animal Hospital in Kennesaw today. 

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