Figures from The Australian National Kennel Club have shown the number of Brachycephalic breeds have boomed over the past three decades. This trend is mirrored in the UK and US. These purebred dogs tend to be smaller with shorter wider heads. Such breeds include the Pug, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu and Pekingese. The “doe-eyed” appearance makes them extremely cute matching their big personalities.

However, these characteristic features cause some serious health issues. These include breathing, eye, skin and dental issues. They cannot tolerate heat which is only worsened by obesity. The disproportionate head size compared to the mother’s pelvic canal means they often need a caesarian for the safe delivery of pups. This is especially true for the English Bulldog. The average life expectancy of brachycephalic breeds is estimated to be four years less than other breeds (The Veterinarian, April 2016).

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is the anatomic consequences of the flattened face and shorter nose. Namely.

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Pinched (Stenotic) Nostrils – left Pre op & right Post Op

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prior to palate correction

Overlong or Elongated Soft Palate

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Corrected Soft Palate – end of palate touches the epiglottis

pre soft palate
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Everted Laryngeal Saccules

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Tracheal Hypoplasia Measurement
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Stenotic Nares (pinched nostrils) and Elongated Soft Palate are primary causes of Brachycephalic Syndrome. They are both surgically correctable. As so are the secondary consequences of Everted Laryngeal Saccules.

The presence of a Hypoplastic Trachea worsens the prognosis.

Current Recommendations:

  1. Airway examination under general anaesthesia at 3-4 months of age; surgical corrections followed by 7 weeks of Losec (Omeprazole) results in
    • 88% improvement in respiratory signs
    • 91% improvement in gastrointestinal signs
  2. No fat dogs – obesity further compromises a restricted airway.
  3. Avoid activity on hot days – brachycephalic dogs pant inefficiently and the extra work required to cool via the tongue can cause the airways to become inflamed and swollen leading to severe obstruction.
  4. Harnesses are preferable to a lead and collar on walks.

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