Unlike most dogs with upper airways that enable air to pass freely through the trachea, the anatomy of brachycephalic dogs can present issues and hamper clear, easy breathing.
The key components of the brachycephalic airway syndrome include:
|Stenotic nares before surgery||Stenotic nares after surgery|
Surgery can shorten an elongated soft palate, improve the dog’s comfort, and reduce these clinical signs (though loud snoring often remains even after surgery). The most concerning of these clinical signs are regurgitation and vomiting, and if your brachycephalic dog experiences these symptoms, please consult with your veterinarian as to how to address these issues.
Brachycephalic soft palate and stenotic nares surgery: To ease airway issues, veterinary surgeons can shorten an elongated palate in order to prevent blockage of the airway at the back of the throat. In addition to improving the dog’s breathing, this can reduce risk of aspiration of food. Surgery at Angell is usually done with a CO2 laser to reduce bleeding and expedite healing. In addition to shortening elongated palates, the CO2 laser can be used to resection stenotic nares (the area around the nostril that may be partially sealed in a brachycephalic dog). As with any surgery, there are postoperative risks, and dogs should be carefully monitored for aspiration pneumonia, sinusitis, or rhinitis. At Angell, most brachycephlic patients undergoing soft palate surgery are held overnight in Angell’s Critical Care Unit for observation with some time spent in our oxygen cages for additional breathing comfort postoperatively. Most patients return home the following morning.
Short term prevention: It is especially important for brachycephlic dogs to avoid stress and heat. To prevent distress, take the following steps with your dog, but be sure to consult your vet if symptoms progress:
Brachycephalic Dental issues:
Brachycephalic Ocular Issues:
For more information on care of your brachycephalic dog, please consult your primary veterinarian or visit https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/brachycephalic-syndrome. For information about soft palate surgery, contact Angell’s Surgery service at 617-541-5048.