21 Feb BAS Surgery and Your Dog
brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome in dogs
Is your dog affected by Brachycephalic airway syndrome?
If you have any brachycephalic breed or ‘squishy faced’ dog then yes, your dog is affected. Brachycephalic dogs have been bred to have a shortening of the nose and face to create that cute look that we can’t help but fall in love with.
Unfortunately, many of these dogs have difficulty breathing and exercising daily. In a normal dog, air passes through the nose and nasal passages, through the larynx into the trachea and lungs. The anatomy of brachycephalic dogs is altered in a way that restricts the passage of this air-flow due to their elongated soft palate
Having brachycephalic airways is like breathing through a straw while running a marathon
In brachycephalic dogs, air struggles to pass through the nose. The skin around the nostrils is often excessive, leaving just small slits for air to pass through. The bones inside the nasal passages are contorted, creating a further barrier to air flow. At the larynx, excessive soft palate can hang over the airway occasionally blocking airflow.
Signs of Brachycephalic Syndrome
- Panting while at rest or with very little exercise
- Reverse sneezing
- Gagging while drinking/eating
- Exercise intolerance
All of this makes it understandably difficult for these dogs to breathe. However, there is another problem associated with brachycephalic airway syndrome, one which can be fatal in many animals.
Brachycephalic dogs die quickly from heat stress
Dogs, in general, can struggle with high temperatures. They are covered in fur and only have sweat glands in the paws. Dogs cool themselves by panting, a process that involves evaporation in the nose and mouth. Brachycephalic dogs try very hard to pant when they are hot, however as their nose is shortened their ability to cool down is compromised.
Walking brachycephalic dogs on hot humid days carries a high risk of heat stress. Once affected by heat stress, dogs deteriorate rapidly. Organ failure ensues and high body temperatures ‘cook’ the brain. A brachycephalic dog doesn’t have to be running around in the heat to die from heat stress- even gentle exercise or simply being outside for these dogs on hot days puts them at risk. Unfortunately this summer at Southern Cross Vets we have had a number of our brachycephalic patients die from heat stress.
We don’t want to see another brachycephalic dog die like this
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome Surgery
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome surgery involves surgical correction of your dog’s airways to improve airflow. At Southern Cross Vets we offer a unique approach to brachycephalic airway syndrome surgery.
Correcting the nostrils
Small wedges of tissue are removed to widen the nostrils. Low-irritant sutures are then placed in the nose to facilitate healing.
Correcting the elongated soft palate
The surgeon will measure your dog’s soft palate and decide whether excess needs to be removed. If an excess of tissue hangs over the larynx and obstructs the airway then it will be removed. At Southern Cross Vets we use cutting electrocautery to resect the soft palate. This minimizes bleeding during surgery and means your dog won’t have any irritating sutures in the back of the throat.
Correcting everted laryngeal saccules
Chronic airway obstruction can lead to everted laryngeal saccules. This is the first stage of laryngeal collapse. Laryngeal saccules are soft tissue masses located in the larynx. These are surgically trimmed to limit obstruction of the airway.
Generally, dogs recover very well from brachycephalic airway surgery. In many dogs the benefits of airway surgery are observable immediately, however, in some, it may take a week before swelling subsides and improvement can be appreciated. Many owners report to us that their dog seems like ‘a new dog’, with renewed energy levels post-surgery.
Remember, an effective brachycephalic syndrome treatment is available. In our opinion, all brachycephalic breeds of dogs are in need of airway surgery.
Book a free airway consult today at Southern Cross Vets and talk to one of our vets about improving your brachycephalic dog’s quality of life.