Brachycephalic airway syndrome

By VanEastVet, on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Meet Tina, a cute fifteen-week-old French Bulldog puppy! Tina came in to be desexed although difficulty breathing or dyspnoea as known in the medical world – a common problem seen in brachycephalic breeds, was also noted.

Boston Terrier Puppy

Boston Terrier Puppy

The Latin term Brachycephalicus refers to the skull having a shorter snout and as such very compressed airway structures, predisposing them to Brachycephalic airway syndrome or BAS. Common dog breeds predisposed to BAS include:

– English Bulldog – Pekingese

– Boston terrier – Pug

– French Bulldog – Boxer

– Lhasa apso – Shih Tzu

– Shar Pei

and typically present with one or more of the following anatomical deformities:

  • Narrowed nostrils
  • Elongated soft palate
  • Everted laryngeal saccules

If your loved one fits one of these breed predispositions then in the best interest of your pet’s quality of life I believe it is important for you to be on the lookout for signs that may alert you to this condition. Common clinical signs seen in dogs with BAS include:

– Noisy difficult breathing – Trouble swallowing

– Dark/blue gums – Exercise intolerance

– Restless sleeping and

– Frequent retching or gagging up of phlegm

Often associated with BAS, these breeds can also have a weaker-walled wind pipe and laryngeal collapse, only further worsening these dog’s breathing effort. It is important to note that excitement; stress and increased heat and humidity often exacerbate these clinical signs and may lead to physical collapse, so please be careful! To identify the problems associated with BAS a scoping of the airways may be needed to assess the degree of the deformities, however something as simple as narrowed nostrils can easily be seen upon physical examination of your pet.

In this case, Tina was already with us in order to perform the laparoscopic desexing and so correction of her narrowed nostrils was a quick, and easy procedure performed during the same anesthetic; very convenient and practical. Correction of the other abnormalities are definitely more effort but usually yield a more rewarding result, especially if the nostrils have already been corrected prior.

BAS is an important syndrome to be aware of when looking for brachycephalic breeds but please ask about individual recommendations during your pet’s physical examination at your next vet consultation.