Brachycephalic dogs have unique health needs, which require specialized healthcare. Fortunately, the Kennel Club is committed to their welfare and has held a webcast to discuss brachycephalic health issues. The webcast featured a panel of experts, including Dr Jane Ladlow, a European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery and leading BOAS researcher. It also included Bill Lambert, Kennel Club Head of Health and Welfare, and Charlotte McNamara, Health and Welfare Development Manager.
Breathing problems are very common in brachycephalic dogs, such as English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs. Their short skulls and flat faces make them more susceptible to breathing problems. However, these problems are preventable and can be corrected.
Breathing problems are often the result of poor airflow. When your pet has trouble breathing, you should take them to the vet. Your pet’s eyes may be red, and you may notice a foul odor coming from their ears. You can’t prevent breathing problems in brachycephalic breeds, but there are things you can do to help them get better.
Taking your dog to the vet is the first step. This specialist can perform a thorough check-up and make recommendations to help your brachy breathe more easily. Surgery can also be used to correct an elongated soft palate and open the airway. However, surgery won’t cure the underlying condition and you’ll still need to provide proper care afterward. Moreover, it’s best to keep a good relationship with your vet.
Breathing problems in brachycephlic health issues are common in this breed. They are caused by a narrow airway and constricted upper jaw. If your pet can’t catch their breath when needed, this can be very dangerous.
Digestive issues are common in brachycephalic dogs, and diagnosis and treatment are largely based on a detailed examination. During a diagnostic examination, a variety of diagnostic procedures may be performed, including thoracic radiographs, fluoroscopic studies, abdominal ultrasound examinations, and upper airway endoscopy. If there are multiple lesions in the gastrointestinal tract, surgical management may be necessary.
Breathing disorders may also occur in some brachycephalic breeds. Breathing problems can include respiratory resistance, respiratory obstruction, and chronic cough. The pharynx can also develop abnormalities, which can be diagnosed during laryngoscopy under general anesthesia. Common pharyngeal lesions include thickened soft palate, enlarged tonsils, redundant soft tissues, and proportionally enlarged tongue.
The narrowness of brachycephalic dogs’ ear canals can cause chronic ear infections. In severe cases, these infections can spread to the middle ear and lead to long-term pain and neurologic impairment. In some extreme cases, total ear canal ablation may be required. Additionally, a dog’s prominent eyes can cause corneal ulcers.
Besides regurgitation, brachycephalic dogs also suffer from a condition called gastroesophageal reflux. The condition is caused by chronic increases in thoracic airway pressure. In addition, brachycephalic dogs tend to have a thickened tongue base, long soft palate, and hypertrophied nasal turbinates. Consequently, the airways in brachycephalic dogs are prone to blockage, which can cause them to experience breathing difficulties while sleeping. As a result, some brachycephalic dogs may experience periods of no breathing at all.
Dogs and cats that are brachycephalic are at a higher risk for developing certain types of eye diseases. Brachycephalic eye diseases are often accompanied by other symptoms such as glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, or exophthalmos. Veterinary ophthalmologists will address these conditions and help to ensure the best possible care for brachycephalic dogs.
Entropion, or inward rolling of the eyelid margins, is a common condition in brachycephalic dogs. The irritation caused by the friction between the haired eyelid skin and the eye surface can lead to corneal ulcerations and scarring. It can also cause a pigment deposit on the cornea. The prominent skin folds over the nose may also be impacted with the eye, which can result in severe pain and discomfort.
Surgical treatments can address ocular surface disease. Some procedures involve removing the eyeball and reshaping the face. In some cases, ocular surface disease requires a combination of medical and surgical treatment. Treatment is often dependent on whether the condition is an acute or chronic issue.
In addition to the above conditions, brachycephalic dogs are more likely to suffer from corneal ulcerative disease. This disease results in a loss of vision and is painful. The cornea is the clear outer surface of the eye. In severe cases, it may become ulcerated, scarred, and/or have blood vessels growing into it. Depending on the severity, treatment may include long-term anti-inflammatory eye medications.
Exercise intolerance is an objective test that can determine a dog’s sensitivity to exercise. It can be used in diagnostics for brachycephalic health problems and could help breeders choose healthier animals. Exercise intolerance tests may help predict the severity of respiratory distress and other brachycephalic health problems, such as obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). These tests, which include the 1000 m walk test, can also be used to assess a dog’s recovery from BOAS.
While conventional diagnostic methods such as oro-pharyngeal examination have been used for decades, exercise intolerance tests are now available to improve diagnostic sensitivity. Other evidence-based diagnostic methods include CT of the head and posterior rhinoscopy. Genetic testing of brachycephalic dogs is also available and could rule out dogs with severe symptoms.
Exercise intolerance is a common brachycephalic health problem. This condition is characterized by reduced ability to exercise, as a result of abnormal upper airway anatomy and the short face. The condition is often misdiagnosed as old age or arthritis. However, the underlying cause could be treatable.
Exercise intolerance is often mistaken for laziness, but cats with this condition do not seem to be particularly active. They don’t want to exercise or play. This is a sign of inadequate breathing and circulation, resulting in syncope in extreme cases.
Among the health problems affecting brachycephalic animals, spinal malformations were the most common. These problems were characterized by an unusual shape of the vertebral body or dorsal wedge. They also included spinal degenerative changes and calcified discs. The number of caudal vertebral malformations was positively correlated with neurological deficits, and 98% of all cases had such problems.
Spinal abnormalities in brachycephalic dogs may cause a number of clinical issues, including disc herniation and neurological impairment. In some cases, these problems can cause limb weakness and chronic pain. They may also lead to intervertebral disc disease and kyphosis.
Although there is very little information on the medical management of screw-tailed brachycephalic dogs, it is important to note that some procedures are successful in treating screw-tail brachycephalic dogs. One such procedure is a dorsal laminectomy, which can relieve pressure in the vertebral canal. Similarly, similar surgeries have had good results in other non-brachycephalic breeds.
There is a link between vertebral step and Cobb angle and the occurrence of neurological deficits in brachycephalic dogs. In fact, a prospective study examined these two factors in brachycephalic dogs. Both vertebral step and angulation were clinically relevant in these dogs.
Because brachycephalic dogs are unable to cool themselves easily, their health is at greater risk during hot weather. In order to reduce their risk, you should limit the amount of time your dog spends outside. For example, limit outdoor walks to early evening hours. Also, never leave your dog outside alone, as he is susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke include excessive panting and rapid breathing. Affected animals should be given immediate medical attention, as they may also suffer from diarrhea or vomiting.
Heat intolerance can be a severe problem for brachycephalic dogs, and can be life-threatening. If you find your dog to be suffering from this condition, talk to your veterinarian immediately. Surgical correction of stenotic nares may cost as much as $600 or more. A soft palate resection will cost around $2000. While surgery is necessary in severe cases, more moderate cases can be treated by controlling the dog’s weight, limiting exercise, limiting heat exposure, and avoiding exposure to humidity.