Helping our flat faced dogs

April 18, 2018

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, Boston terriers, French and British bulldogs, have gained in popularity in recent years. While these breeds are incredibly cute and have lovely temperaments, unfortunately they also come with health risks. Brachycephalic dogs are characterised by their short squashed muzzles and noses. Over the years, many of these dogs have been bred to have increasingly shorter and shorter muzzles, leaving less space for the structures around the nose and mouth. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the disease process that occurs because of this.

Symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome include;        

  • Increased effort and heavy breathing

  • loud breathing and snoring

  • Shortness of breath

  • Exercise intolerance

  • Heat intolerance

  • Tongue hanging from mouth

These symptoms are caused by generalised narrowing of all the pathways that air must travel through to reach the lungs. This includes;

  • Narrowed nostrils which limit the amount of air that can be inhaled

  • An elongated soft palate (excessive tissue at the back of the mouth) which obstructs the entry of air into the trachea,

  • A narrowed trachea, further limiting the amount of air that reaches the lungs.

  • All the previous three issues eventually lead to the 4th brachycephalic airway abnormality - everted laryngeal saccules. These are tissue flaps around the larynx (voice box) which become sucked into the airway, and have a suffocating effect.


Long term, the increased effort to breathe leads to inflammation and secondary changes in the lungs. This further narrows the airway and unfortunately only makes the problem worse as these breeds get older.

What can be done to help?

There are several surgical procedures that can help open up the airways and make brachycephalic dogs more comfortable.




A Nares Resection involves removing small wedges of tissue to increase the size of the nostrils without significantly changing the dog’s appearance.







At the same time, a procedure called a Staphylectomy can remove the excessive tissue of the elongated soft palate.







The vets at All Creatures on Hoddle can do these procedures as a day surgery under general anaesthetic. In certain circumstances, mostly in older dogs where secondary changes have already occurred, we may recommend additional surgeries are done at a surgical specialist centre.



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