Research recommends an airway examination under general anaesthesia and possible surgical correction at 4 – 6 months of age. Early intervention prevents ongoing degrees of collapse of the larynx (throat) and reduces the high rates of oesophageal and stomach abnormalities. The aim of all veterinarians is to return the ability to play and exercise like other breeds of dogs without the fear of overheating or collapse especially in the warmer months of the year. This condition does deteriorate with time if untreated thus we have the opportunity to significantly improve their future lives.
Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Airway Disease (BOAS)
This is a fancy name for narrowed nostrils. The brachycephalic dog’s respiratory passage begins with very small, often slit-like nasal openings for breathing (figure 1). This leads to open-mouth breathing and panting. Affected dogs will especially snore when they are sleeping on their sternums.
Elongated Soft Palate
It is difficult to fit the soft palate tissues of the canine mouth and throat into the brachycephalic’s short face. As a result, the soft palate, which separates the nasal passage from the oral cavity, flaps loosely down into the throat. Continual flapping causes inflammation, swelling and thickening thus further restriction to the airway (figure 2 – CT thickened soft palate).
Everted Laryngeal Saccules
The normal larynx has two small pockets called ventricles or saccules. When a dog has increased effort to breathe, over time the linings of these little pockets will turn inside-out within the throat. When this occurs, the protuberances obstruct the throat.