Short nosed dogs, brachycephalic dogs, are prone to breathing difficulties. Dog breeds with short noses and squashed faces tend to have difficulty breathing normally. Breeds like boxers, pugs and English Bulldogs are the most easily recognized by people. Thanks to selective breeding for a specific look, these dogs are now prone to brachycephalic airway syndrome.
Brachycephalic dogs may have longer soft palates than typical dogs, narrowed nostrils, and abnormally small tracheas. These developmental abnormalities can make it difficult for these dogs to breathe properly. Although the syndrome can affect short-nosed cat breeds, it is more commonly seen in dogs.
Symptoms of Brachycephalic Dogs
Symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome include rapid breathing, noise when inhaling, persistent panting, snoring, coughing, gagging, difficulty eating, and the inability to perform physical activity in humid weather. Dogs that suffer from extreme cases of this syndrome may collapse when physical exertion becomes too great.
Causes of Labored Breathing in Dogs
Not all short nosed dogs will develop brachycephalic airway syndrome. For those dogs that do have the syndrome, it is one that is inherited at birth. Most dogs are diagnosed by the age of three. These dogs most typically have an elongated soft palate. 50 percent of the dogs with the syndrome have narrowed nasal passages.
Obesity and allergies can exacerbate the condition. Once dogs are diagnosed, it is recommended that owners are very careful as to the time of day they exercise their pets. Dogs with the syndrome should maintain a weight that is proportionate to their size and structure.
Diagnosis of Breathing Problems in Dogs
To properly diagnose brachycephalic airway syndrome, your veterinarian may run one or two diagnostic tests. These tests are a tracheoscopy and a laryngoscopy. In both cases, a small fiber-optic tube is inserted through the dog’s mouth to examine the structures inside.
Treatment of Labored Breathing in Dogs
There is no treatment for brachycephalic airway syndrome. Dogs diagnosed with the disease should not be exercised in hot, humid weather. Care should be taken that dogs playing or exercising are given frequent breaks. Allergens should be avoided, and dogs should not be permitted to gain excess weight.
In severe cases, brachycephalic dogs need surgery to shorten the palate or widen the nostrils. Both of these surgeries can help the dog breathe easier. Your veterinarian can show you how to check your dog’s pulse, color and respiration rate. These three things will help you determine whether your dog is suffering from a lack of oxygen.
Any short nosed dog breed is prone to breathing difficulties. Most of these dogs live long, healthy lives. If you have one of these breeds, your veterinarian can advise you as to the best course of action to take. Most owners discover that there is nothing to be done outside of monitoring their pet closely, particularly in the hot weather.