Brachycephalic Syndrome In Dogs

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

    Who doesn't like such cute and funny dogs like French Bulldogs? What about serious English Bulldogs or cute miniature lady dogs Shih Tzu? All these and some other dog breeds are united by one feature. These are dogs with a small flat snout form or in other words "short-headed". Such breeds belong to the brachycephalic group. Brachycephalic dogs are the dogs with anatomically incorrect structure of the facial skull,  they have significantly shortened snouts compared to the common canine ancestor - the wolf. It is for such a dog's face that many people give preference to brachycephalic nose dogs in choosing a pet. These dogs include:

    • Shih Tzu

    • Pekingese

    • French Bulldog

    • English bulldog

    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

    • Boxer

    • Boston Terrier and some others

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    From the point of view of anatomy and genetics, however terrible it may sound, these dogs have a genetically fixed anomaly of a skull's structure or deformity which is now inherited by selective work, and this was done by man.
    Unfortunately, besides a funny look, such anatomy carries a great threat to the health and life of these wonderful pets.
    Not only the appearance, but also the internal structure have changed. For example, due to the shortened upper jaw of brachycephalic dogs, the number of teeth differs from a norm and they are more crowded. Many dog ​​owners wonder how to brush their teeth. To do this, use special toothbrushes or treats, for example, PEDIGREE® Denta Stix ™. Studies have shown that it is an effective way to prevent plaque and calculus.
    The upper airways of brachycephalic dogs underwent the most significant anatomical changes. Despite the fact that the size of the nasal cavity has decreased significantly, the number of soft tissues (for example, the mucous membrane) remains the same. The nasal conchae are deformed, they are covered by an excess amount of soft tissues, the airways are narrowed. Some representatives have significantly narrowed nostrils also. In this regard, a brachycephalic dog has to make much more effort for inhaling and exhaling not mentioning the disruption of the thermoregulation mechanism. Try to close one nostril and breathe for a minute at least. You will understand how hard it is to breathe. And such dogs are forced to breathe in such a way all their life.

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    What does it threaten? First, brachycephalic dogs endure heat and physical activity much worse. They quickly overheat and get tired. Secondly, due to the increased pressure in the airways, their tissues begin to deform and swell. Scientists estimate that when the diameter of an airway is narrowed by 2 times, the pressure during inhaling increases by 16 times! This leads to tissue edema and weakening of airway walls - larynx cartilage and trachea walls. And if we take into account the fact that such dogs have a small diameter of the airways, this leads to a dog's death.
    What is brachycephalic syndrome ? Brachycephalic syndrome is a complex of anatomical disorders that lead to respiratory distress.
    What anatomical disorders are found in many representatives of brachycephalic dog breeds:

    • nostril narrowing;

    • vestibule stenosis of the vestibule of the nasal cavity (pathology of pterygoid plate);

    • incompatibility of the nasal cavity volume with the volume of underlying structures (“relative hypertrophy”);

    • curvature and thickening of the shells (aberrant shells);

    • hypertrophy of nasopharynx and oropharynx;

    • hypertrophy of the soft palate;

    • laryngeal collapse (eversion of laryngeal sacs, weakness of scarpous cartilage);

    • tracheomalacia and hypoplasia of the trachea.

    And if a dog has only narrowing of the nasal airways, then in the process of vital activity, due to the increased pressure during breathing, the majority of the above-described pathological changes occur in a sequence. And if the pathology of the nasal airways can be corrected by cosmetic surgery, in the event of the development trachea and bronchi collapse doctors are powerless. If there is a problem of the soft palate hypertrophy, it goes beyond the epiglottis further complicating the process of breathing.

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    What are the symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome?

    • a dog is choking or has difficulty breathing;

    • a dog snores and makes a whistling sound when breathing;

    • bluish mucous;

    • a dog coughs, often after physical activity;

    • a dog faints, edema of the upper airways, pneumonia in severe cases.

    All this can lead to death because of nasal airways narrowing.
    At the same time, any associated diseases of dogs, such as diseases of the respiratory system, circulatory system, pathology, accompanied by fever are significantly complicated by the brachycephalic syndrome.
    Remember, if a dog is breathing heavily, snoring and “whistling”, it is not the norm even for brachycephalic dogs! This is a serious clinical symptom that should alert the owner.
    Owners of such dogs should know that only early diagnosis and early treatment can prevent dog's death and make life easier for it. More than 60% of brachycephalic dogs need surgical treatment. That is why each brachycephalic dog should be observed by a veterinary specialist.
    Unfortunately, not all veterinary specialists are well aware of this problem. Therefore, when a dog reaches one year old, you need to show it to a specialist in a clinic, where such surgeries are performed and know everything about brachycephalic syndrome.

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    The most frequent treatment for brachycephalic syndrome consists in the operative expansion of the nasal airways, excision of the excessively long soft palate, less often laryngeal sacs are removed and plastic surgery of the laryngeal cartilages is done (in more complicated cases).
    Diagnosis of brachycephalic syndrome is based on a clinical examination of a dog in most cases. A veterinarian determines the degree of airways and nasal cavity vestibule narrowing. To identify hypertrophy of the soft palate, laryngoscopy is performed under sedation, usually at the time of surgical treatment of nasal stenosis.
    Also to identify hypertrophy of the soft palate, pathology of the larynx and trachea, radiography of a neck and chest is performed.
    Special attention should be paid to brachycephalic breeders. We can not allow breeding dogs with pronounced symptoms of this pathology. After all, in this way we condemn all the offspring of such dogs to torment. The more actively competent selective work is carried out, the faster we will save brachycephalic dogs from anguish and pain and the owners from worrying about their pets. Diligent breeders can save these wonderful dog breeds from extinction.
    Dear brachycephalic dog owners! Please do not disregard this problem. When it comes to brachycephalic syndrome, early diagnosis and treatment improve the prognosis significantly. In such cases, it is possible to achieve complete relief of brachycevalous syndrome without consequences in the future. Consult a veterinary specialist.

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