What is BAS? And how you can help your Frenchie breathe better

french bulldog BAS

What is BAS? And how you can help your Frenchie breathe better

What is BAS (BOAS) and how can it help Frenchies breathe?

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS), also known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), is a respiratory condition affecting animals with flat, squashed faces. This breathing problem is more common in dogs than in cats, and because of having shorter noses and a soft palate, dog breeds such as French bulldogs are more likely to have this respiratory condition.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in dogs arises as a result of a series of congenital defects which 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 a term for narrow nostrils – due to which the dog finds it difficult to breathe in enough oxygen.

How Harmful is BAS to French bulldogs?

This breathing condition can potentially be life threatening and is often exacerbated by high heat and humidity which raise the body temperature among French bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds. In an effort to cool down, the dogs puff their chest up and down and pant for more air to breathe in, and when their air passage isn’t big enough to support the adequate influx of oxygen, it can cause a lot of other problems, including a few heart-related problems as well. Obesity in such dog breeds may also lead to further pressure on the already obstructed airflow.

Does your French bulldog suffer from BAS? As per a research paper submitted in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, as many as 66% of French bulldogs have breathing problems. While not all Frenchies suffer from a severe case of brachycephalic airway syndrome, most French bulldogs have been known to snore, have loud or noisy breathing, and have often been seen gasping for air. Signs that your pet has Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome include:

  • Low tolerance to exercise: A common sign of your Frenchie having BOAS is their low tolerance to exercise. French bulldogs with BAS get tired and start panting very quickly. If you notice your French bulldog breathing fast, it may indicate that you’re Frenchie is overheating.
  • Long cool-off period: Another sign of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in dogs would be if you observe them constantly moving to a cooler region in your house – maybe somewhere with an air conditioner. You may also observe your pet breathing very fast in their sleep. Unless your Frenchie has breathing problems, they should not be requiring extremely long cool-off periods between their play time.
  • Retching, regurgitation and vomiting: When Frenchies try to eat their food too fast, in particular because of their soft palates, they sometimes throw their food out. While this may happen occasionally, if the occurrence becomes more constant, it may be a sign of your French bulldog struggling to breathe. Trying to eat while finding it tough to breathe, makes it very hard for your Frenchie to keep its food down.

If you’ve noticed your Frenchie having any of the above symptoms in addition to the snoring, wheezing and loud breathing, you should consult a vet immediately to try and identify if your French bulldog is struggling to breathe. At Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic, we provide a free breathing assessment for your French bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds to not only help you find out whether your dog is struggling to breathe, but also help you identify the best treatment and care for your Frenchie.

French Bulldog Struggling to Breathe? – How You Can Help

Once you have identified that your dog is brachycephalic, you need to get ready to pour a lot of time and love in caring for your dog. In particular, the following list of things should be high on your list:

Weight: Dogs diagnosed with Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS) need to have their diet monitored very closely. Whether your Frenchie has a mild, moderate or severe case of BAS, weight management is always imperative. An obese body requires a lot more oxygen than a fitter one. With French bulldogs struggling to breathe even with their ideal body frames, an overweight body would put way too much pressure on their already narrow and obstructed airways.

Temperature: Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat to maintain their body temperature. Since they only sweat through their paws and rely largely upon their respiratory system to cool down, it is highly important we look after the body temperature of French bulldogs. Hot and humid temperatures are not ideal for them and if you can provide them access to a room with air conditioning, it would ensure they remain cool and comfortable at all times.

Feeding: Since French bulldogs, like all other dogs, are highly motivated by food and often have the tendency to gulp down food quickly, slow feeding them could be a good practice to ensure they get enough of a chance to breathe. As mentioned earlier breathing and eating together could cause your Frenchie to vomit. However, if you feed your Frenchie through slow feeding mats it would make them consume food at a slower rate, allowing them more of an opportunity to breathe.

In addition to slow feeding, you might consider providing elevated feeding so as to raise their upper body and ensure minimum food is vomited. You can also give Frenchies small and frequent meals instead of two large meals and provide soft food from time to time, which French bulldogs may not be able to eat fast.

Surgery: The severity of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome can vary significantly, and hence not all cases require surgery. In most cases of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome however, you may want to consider having the surgery performed. Through surgery, you will improve the congenital issues faced by your French bulldog and help them breathe easier. Surgically enhancing your puppy’s breathing can help you provide a happy and longer life to your French bulldog.

Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic has been in the news recently for pioneering minimally invasive veterinary procedure that would drastically improve the breathing of brachycephalic breeds through a very short surgery. 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!

In conclusion, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is respiratory issue which should not be taken lightly. Largely affecting breeds such as French bulldogs, pugs and other flat-faced breeds, BAS can prove to be fatal in severe cases. However, as parents to such dog breeds, you always have the option to provide them with a better life, either through alternative feeding approaches, weight management, temperature control or opting to proceed with surgery. Whichever approach you take, we at Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic are always available to help you make an informed decision.

book a free breathing assessment for your Frenchie.

Dr Sam Kovac BVSC (Merit) followed his dream of becoming a veterinary surgeon that began at age three. Since that time, he has developed a strong interest in oncology, internal medicine and animal behaviour. Now a Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Sam continues his passion of providing the most up-to-date care to his patients and their two-legged family.

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