BOAS in Dogs: Signs, Surgery & Cost of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

BOAS in Dogs: Signs, Surgery & Cost of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

BOAS in dogs: Learn about signs, surgery, costs, and Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic’s pioneering minimally invasive approach. Your pet’s well-being matters – read on to make informed choices. 

Brachycephalic dog breeds have captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world with their adorable flat faces and unique features. However, beneath those charming looks lies a potential health concern known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Continue reading to find out more about BOAS, BOAS surgery options, signs that your pet may require BOAS surgery, as well as details and cost of the BOAS surgery done at Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic.  


What is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)?  

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), also known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS), is a condition that affects certain dog breeds with short muzzles and flat faces. We often perform BOAS on Bulldogs, Pugs, French Bulldogs, Cavoodles and Boston Terriers are susceptible due to the unique breeding of these breeds. The need for BOAS surgery in dogs arises because of a series of congenital defects that may be witnessed individually, all together, or in some combination of the following:  

– An elongated and unusually soft palate, which obstructs the passage of air through the larynx (voice box) 

– Everted laryngeal saccules, wherein the larynx itself is misshaped and therefore hinders the natural flow of oxygen from the mouth 

– Tracheal hypoplasia, or an abnormally narrow windpipe that reduces the inflow of air 

– Stenotic nares, a medical term for narrow nostrils – due to which the dog finds it difficult to breathe in enough oxygen. 


Signs that your dog may require a BOAS surgery  

Identifying BOAS in dogs is crucial for timely intervention. Look out for signs such as: 

  • Low Exercise Tolerance: If your brachycephalic pet shows rapid fatigue and excessive panting during exercise, it could be indicative of BOAS. Quick exhaustion is a concerning sign, especially if accompanied by rapid breathing, which might signal overheating. 
  • Extended Cooling Off: If you notice your dog frequently seeking cooler spots or breathing rapidly during sleep, it might be a sign of discomfort. Typically, dogs should recover relatively quickly after exertion, but if your pet requires prolonged cooling periods, BOAS could be a factor. 
  • Gastrointestinal Distress: Canines with BOAS may struggle with regurgitation and vomiting, particularly after eating too quickly due to their soft palates. Consistent occurrences of this behaviour might be linked to the airway obstruction causing discomfort. 

Other Indicators: 

  • Noisy breathing or snoring, especially during sleep or inactivity. 
  • Rapid or laboured breathing, especially in warm weather. 
  • Cyanosis (bluish discolouration of the gums or tongue) due to lack of oxygen. 
  • Reverse Sneezing 
  • Gagging during Meals 
  • Snorting 

BOAS BAS breathing assessment

BOAS Surgery for Dogs 

BOAS Surgery can significantly improve your dog’s breathing and overall quality of life. BOAS Surgery in bulldogs and other brachy breeds involves the surgical correction of their airways to improve airflow.  

While many vet clinics and surgeons are keen on providing “5/5 BOAS Surgery” as the best available option for your pet, we at Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic offer a safer and more holistic approach to correcting your pet’s breathing difficulties.  

‘5/5’ BOAS surgery is a term that was invented by a vet in Melbourne and refers to the number of elements to be performed in a BOAS Surgery. In the 5/5 philosophy, there are only 5 crucial things that need to be corrected, and all 5 of these things need to be done in every case. The 5 things are:  

  1. Shorten soft palate 
  1. Thin the soft palate (not all palates are thick) 
  1. Remove laryngeal saccules (most dogs under 1 year of age do not have them) 
  1. Amputate and remove tonsils 
  1. Widen nostrils  

At Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic, we offer a unique approach to brachycephalic airway syndrome surgery, considering and carefully examining the aspects your pet has that are causing obstruction. 

Additionally, there are other components to BOAS not covered by the ‘5/5’ mantra, such as:  

  1. Swollen and enlarged sinuses requiring “turbinectomy” 
  1. Small trachea relative to body size (hypoplastic trachea) 
  1. Inflammatory nasopharyngeal polyps or hyperplasia  

Which of the above we operate upon depends on each individual case. We assess each anatomical area and decide during the surgery. Normally (1) and (5) are always performed, while (3), (6) and (4) are corrected if present. (2) is done if x-rays show a thickened soft palate or if, at surgery, it is deemed to be excessively thick, hampering airflow. 

Doing more than necessary increases anaesthetic risk and may not lead to any clinical advantage.   

Furthermore, under the leadership of our founder and Director, Dr Sam Kovac, we have pioneered a Minimally Invasive Surgical technique to perform BOAS dog surgery because of which we have made the surgery shorter, drastically safer and much more comfortable for your pet. Our BOAS surgery is done using a Caiman handpiece which uses radiofrequency (not CO2 laser) to seal the soft palate tissue minimally invasively. 

This surgery has also been covered by the Daily Telegraph, Wentworth Courier, Channel 7 News and Vet Practice Magazine. Once operated upon, dogs usually walk back home with their parents on the same day, and most don’t require overnight monitoring. The operation that we have pioneered in Sydney has reduced the operation time by a whopping 40 minutes! 

We further mandate the use of a Veterinary Anaesthetist to make the BOAS surgery safer for your pet. The Veterinary Anaesthetist is there to focus solely on the well-being of your pet when they are under anaesthesia. This ensures that there is someone keeping a constant eye on your fur baby and further allows the surgeon to concentrate on the technicality of the surgery to improve your pet’s breathing.  

BOAS Surgery for Dogs Cost 

At the time of publishing, our surgery fees are $4900.  

Part of the cost of this surgery is the minimally invasive tool we use to seal the soft palate, which is single-use and costs over $1,000. 

If your pet requires just the nares, the fee is closer to $800. 

Please contact the clinic at 1300 DOC SAM (📞1300 362 726) closer to the surgery date to confirm an estimate.