Penny is a 8 month old black French bulldog. She came from a good breeder and their owner paid $7000 for her.
She always snored, which her owners thought was really cute and described her snortling as ‘oinking’ as if she was a little piglet ‘talking’ to them.
Like all Frenchies, she LOVED the park so much and loved catching up with her buddies to do zoomies. You could tell she was excited as she would pull on the lead with gusto and even bunnyhop with her back legs when she was on her way. She knew every corner of the drive and would bark more and more as she got closer to the park.
As she continued into adulthood, however, her owners noticed that while she had no issues at the park and ran around like a happy lunatic, every time they came home she seemed to take a lot longer to cool down and settle. When she was a puppy, by the time she was home from the park after the car ride back, she was almost completely cooled down, but nowadays, she seemed to take half an hour and always had her back legs splayed out to maximise the connection to the cool tiles at home.
Her owners also noticed her throw up more than usual, which she hardly ever did before but now sometimes every fortnight she’d vomit, but her energy levels are always good. They weren’t sure if this was normal for a dog and didn’t think much of it.
Her snoring got louder as the months went on and when she went to the park, she was really noisy after running around and her owners mentioned this to the vet when they went in for their regular shots.
We examined her and noticed that her nostrils were shaped like two vertical slits, rather than wide, round open holes and that air moved with much more difficulty through the nostril. When we listened to her throat with a stethoscope, the noise was very loud, but we knew this would be the case as touching her under her chin, you could feel the tissues vibrate quite a lot.
She ended up being diagnosed with BAS or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Surgery (BOAS) and was given information about the procedure that we have pioneered and performed hundreds of at Southern Cross Vet.
The owners agreed that all the signs looked to point towards this common condition – the regurgitation, the snoring, the tiredness after the park and overheating all made sense.
3 days after the reception team lodged the insurance pre approval forms, the email came through that all would be covered and she was booked in for surgery in a fortnight.
Day of the operation
Penny was picked up by our Concierge, Marc from her house at 7 am and was at the hospital in St Peters at 7:30 am.
She had her arm clipped to put in an IV cannula so that we could start hydrating her with saline before the anaesthetic. She also had a few drops of blood taken from this cannula for her pre-operative blood tests that we do with every case to ensure the kidneys and liver can handle the anaesthetic and that her red blood cell levels are high enough to transport oxygen around her body.
While waiting for the results, she received some cuddles from the nurses and her parents received a cute pre-op photo to show that she was being well cared for and loved at the clinic.
Thankfully, her blood tests were all in the normal range and our anaesthetist called her parents to let them know she was heading into surgery in the next 15 minutes.
She was anaesthetised using the same kind of anaesthetics that humans get (like propofol and fentanyl) and she went to sleep safely. All sorts of machines were beeping to let the team know her every vital sign and body temperature – even when pets are asleep at Southern Cross Vet, we make sure they are still kept comfortable so when they wake up, they feel great.
Her soft palate was measured and it was a whopping 2.5cm too long. The thickness was normal and thankfully, she didn’t have any laryngeal saccules. The senior surgeon then began the patented technique to shorten the soft palate. This part only took 12 seconds – the old way would have had Penny asleep for more than 45 minutes.
Next, the surgeon’s assistant took a ‘before’ photo and the surgeon carefully widened the soft palates and used delicate silk sutures to close the incisions. This part is really more like artistry than medicine, and the surgeon was very pleased with the results. An ‘after’ photo was taken and added to her patient file.
She was then gently brought back to consciousness as if waking up from a meditation by the anaesthetist and his nurses.
After diligently monitoring her for about 35 minutes after waking up, she was standing up on her own four paws and looking around at the other patients on either side of her and didn’t feel scared or lonely. She sat back down in the warm embrace of our patient warming device and with its gentle hum, she drifted off into a short snooze while waiting for her discharge bag to be prepared. The glass suites we use are so much more comfortable than typical cages for our patients.
The nurses sat together at the dispensary in the middle of the hospital, preparing her medications by hand to the exacting prescription of her surgeon and carefully placed labels on each packet so her parents knew exactly when and how to give them. The nurses added to her discharge bag some simple written rules to follow for the next 14 day period including a recipe for special BAS Recovery Meatballs! The junior nurses at this time were writing her get well soon card and taking it around to all the clinical team involved with her case today to sign.
Our nurse liaison, Jessica then called her parents to let her know that she was ready to go home and Marc the concierge, arrived and whisked her off into the Jeep waiting downstairs with the climate control on and set to a comfortable 23C.
Dr Sam personally texted her parents at 9 pm to see how she was doing and thankfully she was doing great! Her owners replied that she took herself out for a wee and a poo and ate all of her dinner – but being a French bulldog, she never missed her dinner, so nothing out of the ordinary, here!
She slept soundly all night but did get up once to do a wee (this is normal as often they are over-hydrated by being on an IV drip all day).
3 days later, they came to the clinic for a check up to make sure the incisions were healing well and after another visit 7 days later, her recovery was complete at this appointment, her owners thanked the reception team as with SCV assisting the claims department and giving them the records immediately, they already got 80% of the surgery fees back from the insurance company!
After a month, her owners emailed the clinic over the moon that, while she still snored a bit, she could keep up with her buddies at the local park and come home and cooled down almost straight away. She hardly threw up anymore compared to before and she just seemed to have more energy and was happier overall.
Her owners didn’t know if it was the case or not, but she acted as if she could ‘smell more smells’ on her walk and just appeared to enjoy the outdoors even more than before. She was always a joyous dog, but even more so now. Her parents have even spoken about getting a dog for her – and a new baby puppy is on the way!
BOAS surgery not only saves lives but also improves the quality of life of brachys.
Consider booking a free BAS assessment with Dr Sam.