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What is Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs?

What is it?

Brachycephalic Syndrome is a respiratory condition common in short-nosed breeds of dogs, such as French Bulldogs and Pugs. Dogs with this disorder have narrowed nostrils, an elongated soft palate, and a smaller-than-average trachea. These characteristics cause difficulty breathing, which can often lead to snoring and noisy inhalation. 

How is it Treated?

Brachycephalic Syndrome in dogs is treated by addressing the underlying anatomical defects that cause the condition. Surgery is often necessary to widen the narrow nostrils, shorten the soft palate, and enlarge the trachea in order to improve breathing. In some cases, additional treatments such as oxygen supplementation and weight management may be necessary.

Breed Predispositions

French Bulldog, Pug, Boston Terrier, English Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Shih Tzus


During a regular play session, Maria noticed her adorable French Bulldog, Otis, was struggling to breathe and appeared to be overheating more easily than usual. Concerned about her beloved pet’s well-being, Maria scheduled an appointment with her veterinarian for a thorough evaluation. The vet diagnosed Otis with brachycephalic syndrome, a respiratory condition common in dogs with short noses and flat faces.

Brachycephalic airway Syndrome (BAS), a genetic disorder affecting dogs, causes breathing difficulties and other health issues. BAS occurs when the nose is too broad, causing the upper jaw to protrude forward. This makes it difficult for the dog to breathe correctly and puts pressure on the trachea, esophagus, and lungs.

Brachycephalic Syndrome is found in dogs that cause them to be short-nosed, flat-faced, and long-legged. These breeds include pugs, bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, and others. English bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers were the most common breeds among dogs with BAS.

These breeds are often called “short-nosed” because their noses are shorter than most other dog breeds. They may also be called “flat-faced” because their faces are more comprehensive than tall. And they may be called “long-legged” because their legs tend to be longer than average.

This condition causes breathing problems, including snoring, sleep apnea, and exercise intolerance. In addition, some owners report that their dogs suffer from heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and skin allergies.

Because these breeds are prone to developing health issues such as elongated soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules, and stenotic nares, many veterinarians recommend that owners avoid breeding them. However, some breeders disagree with this recommendation, arguing that no known genetic defects are associated with BS.

Whether you agree with this argument, it is essential to understand the risks involved when breeding brachycephalic breeds.

Causes of Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs

Brachycephalic Syndrome in dogs is an inherited condition that causes them to develop abnormal airways. This means that their noses are too narrow, causing breathing problems. This problem often occurs in brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers, and boxers. English bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers were the most common breeds among dogs with BAOS. As a result, these dogs may suffer from snoring, coughing, wheezing, and exercise intolerance. They may also have trouble sleeping due to excessive noise caused by their snoring.

  • Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), also known as brachycephalic obstructions syndrome, is a group of disorders caused by the abnormal development of a dog’s head and upper neck. It includes several conditions, including tracheal collapse, laryngeal paralysis, and pharyngeal collapse. The most common form of this condition is “chronic cough” because of its characteristic sound. This disorder causes chronic coughing, which produces excessive mucus and difficulty breathing.
  • Brachycephalic Respiratory Distress Syndrome (BRDS) is a condition where dogs develop breathing problems because they were born with abnormally short noses. As a result, their airways are too narrow, making them prone to developing infections and inflammation. The most common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance
Causes of Brachycephalic Syndrome in dogs

The disease usually occurs when a dog is under two years old. A combination of breed, size, age, weight, and environmental factors causes it.

In addition, these dogs may have difficulty swallowing food and water. Their tongues tend to hang down instead of sticking straight out. They may also have a short muzzle, making breathing difficult. Because of these issues, brachycephalic dogs may have respiratory infections, nasal infections, pneumonia, and chronic coughs.

Some owners believe the breed originated in Europe, but others think it was developed in China. However, brachycephalic Syndrome has become common among dog breeds regardless of its origin.

Symptoms of Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs

The most severe form of brachycephalic Syndrome is obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). This is characterized by difficulty breathing due to the narrowing of the upper airway. Symptoms include snoring, coughing, panting, exercise intolerance, and excessive drooling. BOAS occurs when the nose becomes too large relative to the size of the nasal passages. In addition, the soft palate may collapse during inspiration causing the tongue to fall into the pharynx. This causes further obstruction of airflow.

In some cases, the owner may notice that the dog or cat appears to breathe heavily while sleeping. Other signs include increased respiratory effort during activity, such as running, jumping, or playing. If left untreated, BOAS can lead to chronic cough, pneumonia, heart failure, and even death.

symptoms of brachycephalic in dogs

Many BOAS types include brachycephalic obstructions of the nares (nose), larynx, trachea, and bronchi. In addition, there are several different types of BOAS, depending on where it begins. For example, there are three forms of BOAS related to the nares. One type starts at the nostrils, another at the nasopharyngeal opening, and another at the glottis. Each type requires different treatment options.

Diagnosis of Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs

If you suspect your pet may suffer from BAS, consult your veterinarian. Your vet can perform a physical examination and order diagnostic tests, such as chest radiographs, blood work, and endoscopy. Diagnostic testing can help rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as heart disease, allergies, asthma, and lung infections.

A physical exam includes looking at the head shape and length of the soft palate. X-ray views include lateral skull radiographs, frontal sinus radiographs, and CT scans. Endoscopic exams involve inserting a small camera down the dog’s nostril to view the inside of its mouth and throat.

Computed tomography uses special equipment to create cross-sectional images of the body. These images show details of internal organs, bones, and tissues. They help diagnose diseases and injuries.

A veterinarian may recommend surgical procedures to correct the problem. Depending on the severity of the case, one of four treatments may be recommended:

  1. Narrowing the nostril openings (surgically)
  2. Lengthening the soft palate
  3. Trimming excess tissue around the nostrils
  4. Surgical removal of part or all of the nasal bone

If you think your pet might have BOAS, consult your vet immediately. Early intervention is essential to prevent complications.

Treatment for Dogs with Brachycephalic Syndrome

Treatment for dogs with brachycephalic Syndrome

The first treatment option for BS is surgery. In this case, the dog’s nose is lengthened and widened, the tongue is pulled forward, and the soft palate is shortened. This procedure is known as septoplasty. Septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia.

After the operation, the dog usually recovers quickly from the anesthesia. However, some dogs do not heal well after the surgery and require additional treatments. The overall treatment success rate for patients treated at the hospital was 94.2%, and the overall mortality rate was 2.8%.

Other options for treating BS include medications, physical therapy, and laser therapy. Medicines used to treat BS include antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics, bronchodilators, and mucolytics. Physical therapy includes exercises to strengthen muscles around the throat and neck area. Laser therapy involves the use of lasers to stimulate tissue growth.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing Brachycephalic Syndrome?

It is possible to prevent your dog from developing BAS. You can do several things to minimize the chances of your pet developing this condition.

  1. Avoid breeding your dog. Breeding is one of the leading causes of BAS.
  2. Choose a breeder carefully. Could you ensure the breeder has a good reputation and has been breeding for years?
  3. Breeders should screen their pups for BAS.
  4. Please do not allow your puppy to sleep on their back.
  5. Provide adequate exercise and nutrition.
  6. Feed a diet rich in protein.
  7. Monitor your dog closely after birth.
  8. Check your dog regularly for clinical signs of illness.
  9. Vaccinate your dog against common diseases.
  10. Take your dog to the vet frequently.

If your dog develops unusual behavior or physical changes, please take care of veterinary care as soon as possible.

What is the Prognosis for a Dog with Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome?

The prognosis depends on the patient’s age, the disorder’s severity, and whether there are additional anatomical abnormalities. In general, older patients tend to do better after surgical intervention. However, some cases can progress despite early treatment.

A good outcome is possible even in the presence of multiple anatomic abnormalities. If you think your pet might have brachycephalic airways, consult your veterinarian for advice about treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

The cost of brachycephalic surgery varies depending on the type of surgery performed, the breed of dog involved, and where the procedure occurs. In general, the cost ranges from $1,000-$5,000. However, some surgeries are covered by insurance companies, while others require payment out of pocket.

The four main components of BS are:

  1. Shortened nasal passages
  2. Narrowed nostril openings
  3. Long upper lips
  4. Excessive skin folds around the eyes

Yes, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS) is very dangerous. It causes many health problems, including respiratory distress, heart disease, and death. The most common symptoms include snoring, breathing difficulties, and sleep apnea. If you suspect your dog has BAS, consult with your veterinarian immediately.

An elongated soft palate (ESP) is a condition where the soft palate becomes more extended than usual. It occurs when abnormal tissue growth occurs at the mouth’s back. The cause of this abnormality is unknown. However, some factors are thought to contribute to its development. The most common components found in BAOS were an elongated soft palate (95%), stenotic nostrils (79%), everted laryngealsacculums (65%), and everted tonsils(53%).

The most common method to remove foreign material from a dog’s trachea (windpipe) is to use a syringe filled with water and a suction device attached to the end of the needle. The water helps lubricate the airway so the suction device can remove the debris. If the debris cannot be removed this way, a veterinarian should be consulted.

Yes, brachycephalic dogs are more prone to a variety of illnesses due to their unique facial anatomy. Their narrowed nostrils and elongated soft palate can cause difficulty breathing as well as snoring and heavy panting, which can take their toll on their overall health.

Additionally, many brachycephalic breeds are liable to experience dental issues due to overlapping teeth and misaligned jaws, leading to everything from bad breath to painful tooth extractions. Brachycephalic dogs may also be prone to obesity due to their preference for short bursts of activity rather than sustained exercise periods.

Brachycephalic surgery may be needed by certain breeds of dogs with longer muzzles, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, if they are having difficulty breathing due to the physical structure of their face. For example, suppose your dog has stifled respiration at rest or during exercise, snorts and makes gulping noises while living, wheezes or snores loudly, has a rapid respiratory rate at rest or after minimal training, and has nostrils that are partially obstructed or flat-faced. In that case, your dog may need brachycephalic surgery.

Your vet can confirm whether brachycephalic surgery is needed by thoroughly examining and assessing your pet’s respiratory distress. Other clinical symptoms that can be used to determine if your dog needs brachycephalic surgery include an increased heart rate at rest, frequent episodes of regurgitation due to excessive air intake, and difficulty eating and drinking.

Brachycephaly (Greek: σπαρά kará panas) is a term used to describe dogs with short snouts. It is often used synonymously with “short-nosed” or “brachycephalic.” Brachycephaly is most commonly seen in pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, Pekingese, French bulldogs, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Chihuahuas, Maltese Terrier, Bichon Frise, Yorkshire Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Pomeranian, Poodle, Pug, Shar Pei, and others.

The term is sometimes applied to any breed with a relatively small head relative to its body size.

The term was coined by veterinary surgeon Dr. William E. Koehler in his book The Anatomy of the Dog in 1883. He described the condition as “an abnormality of the skull which causes the muzzle to be too long.” In modern usage, the term refers to various conditions where the nose protrudes beyond the lips, including brachygnathia inferior, brachygnathia superior, brachycephaly, and brachycephalic.

Pitbulls are not prone to brachycephalic, but they may be born with this condition. This genetic defect affects the size of the brain and skull.

Unfortunately, Brachycephalic Syndrome cannot be cured since it is congenital. However, treatment can minimize the symptoms associated with the condition and improve the quality of life. Treatment often involves corrective surgery to widen the narrowing in the dog’s nasal passages; however, residual breathing may still be difficult even after surgery.

The prognosis for OAS depends on several factors, including the size and breed of the dog, the severity of their condition, and how long they have been suffering from OAS. Generally speaking, small breeds are more likely to experience complete airway blockage than larger breeds due to their small airways.

Several other problems can occur because of brachycephalic airway syndrome, including:

  • Difficulty breathing in general due to narrowed airways. This can be especially a problem in cold weather or during exercise.
  • Choking on mucus or vomit due to difficulty breathing through the narrow neck and throat.
  • Risk of severe injury or death in a fall. Because of the small airway diameter, individuals with brachycephalic airway syndrome often have reduced ability to speak and breathe with authority, making them more susceptible to falling.

A gene mutation in the HRAS gene causes Brachycephalic Syndrome. Dogs with this mutation are often short-nosed, round-headed, and brachycephalic ( Have long skulls and narrow snouts ). Many other breeds of dogs can also be affected, but certain breeds are particularly prone to developing the disorder. The most common species is the bulldog, followed by the poodle.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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