Pug BOAS Surgery: Exploring the Impact on Pug Health

Pug BOAS Surgery: Exploring the Impact on Pug Health

Pug breathing problems

Pugs are adorable and lovable companions, but they are also prone to certain health conditions due to their unique physical characteristics. One of the most common health concerns that affect pugs is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). BOAS, also known as BAS (Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome) is a condition that affects the upper airways of brachycephalic dog breeds, including pugs. 

Brachycephalic refers to the shortened skull shape that pugs and other breeds like Bulldogs and Boston Terriers have. This characteristic results in a compressed airway, making it challenging for them to breathe properly. As a result, pugs are prone to breathing difficulties, which can range from mild to severe. 

BOAS in Pugs Symptoms

It’s crucial for pug owners to be aware of the symptoms of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome so they can seek proper medical attention for their dogs. Some common symptoms include: 

  • Snoring: If your pug snores excessively, it may be a sign of airway obstruction. 
  • Labored breathing: Difficulty breathing, especially during exercise or in hot weather, can be an indication of BOAS. 
  • Gagging or retching: Pugs with BOAS may frequently gag or retch, and they may have trouble swallowing.  
  • Exercise intolerance: If your pug seems to tire easily during physical activities, it could be due to their compromised airway. 
  • Cyanosis: In severe cases, pugs may show bluish discolouration of the gums and tongue, indicating a lack of oxygen. 

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian who is experienced in treating brachycephalic breeds as your pug may require corrective surgery to improve their breathing. At Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic, we have looked after hundreds of dogs that have suffered from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome and even offer FREE Breathing Assessments for brachycephalic breeds. 


It is important to note that BOAS is a genetic condition that cannot be completely prevented. However, there are steps that you can take to improve your pug’s quality of life and minimise the impact of their breathing difficulties. Here are some tips on caring for pugs with Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. 

  • Weight loss: Keeping your pug at a healthy weight is crucial to reduce the strain on their respiratory system. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet and exercise plan for your pug. 
  • Environmental considerations: Pugs struggle in hot or humid environments, so it’s important to keep them in a cool and well-ventilated space. Avoid subjecting them to prolonged periods of intense exercise or exposure to extreme temperatures. 
  • Regular veterinary check-ups: Routine check-ups will allow your veterinarian to monitor your pug’s condition and provide appropriate medical interventions when necessary. 
  • Diet modifications: Some pugs may benefit from a modified diet that includes smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the risk of regurgitation and choking. Your veterinarian can recommend the best approach for your pug. 
  • Supervision during playtime: Pugs with BOAS should be closely monitored during playtime to prevent overexertion and ensure they have access to water and rest as needed. 

As mentioned earlier, BOAS is a genetic condition that happens due to congenital defects. Following the aforementioned healthcare tips may help you improve your pug’s quality of life; however, you may never be able to fix this breathing issue without getting corrective surgery. 


 Often, the only solution that allows your pet to breathe comfortably is a corrective surgery. Brachycephalic airway surgery aims to widen the pug’s airways and improve their breathing ability. The specific surgical procedures may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual pug’s needs. 

 The most common types of pug airway surgery include: 

  • Soft palate resection: This procedure involves removing excess tissue from the soft palate, which can help create a wider air passage. 
  • Nostril widening: By enlarging the nostrils, this surgery helps improve airflow through the nasal passages. 
  • Elongated soft palate resection: If the soft palate is excessively elongated, it can obstruct the airway. This surgery involves shortening the soft palate to improve breathing. 
  • Stenotic nares correction: Stenotic nares refer to narrowed nostrils. This surgery widens the nostrils, allowing better airflow. 

 It’s important to note that, while some veterinary surgeons follow a ‘5/5’ approach to BOAS surgery, Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic takes a more holistic stance. We operate only on the elements that require attention. Recognising the uniqueness of each pug, we carefully assess your pet to identify specific breathing difficulties. This approach helps us avoid unnecessary surgery, facilitating a more comfortable recovery for your pet. 

 Furthermore, the surgeries conducted at our clinic are minimally invasive. We utilise a specialised handpiece, the Caiman, to seal the soft palate using radio frequency. Unlike traditional surgery, our minimally invasive procedure causes no bruising or bleeding in pets. This enables a faster recovery, with pets often reuniting with their owners on the same day as their surgery. 

You can give us a call at 1300 DOC SAM (1300 362 726) to enquire further about the surgery performed at Southern Cross Vet. 

What is the best age for surgery?

The ideal age for pug surgery typically depends on the severity of the symptoms and the overall health of the dog. In most cases, the surgery is performed once the pug has fully matured, which is typically around one to two years of age. 

Surgery cost

 At the time of publication, our surgery fees are $4900; however, actual costs can vary based on the specific treatment needed. Please reach out to the clinic closer to the surgery date for a personalised quote. 

A portion of the surgery cost covers the utilisation of a single-use, minimally invasive tool used to seal the soft palate, which costs over $1,000. If your pet only requires nares treatment, the fee is closer to $800. 

Additionally, the surgery cost includes the presence of a veterinary anaesthetist in the surgical theater. The anaesthetist focuses solely on monitoring your pet’s health during the operation, significantly reducing surgical risks and promoting a faster recovery for your pets.