Thursday, October 4, 2012

Snort, Snore, Huff and Puff... Cute noises of short-nosed dogs, or symptoms of a more serious health problem?

Are you the owner of a short-nosed, or brachycephalic, dog? The brachycephalic dogs include such breeds as the Boxer, Boston Terrier, Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, and Pekingese. If so, or if you are considering adding one of these lovely dogs to your family, then you may wish to speak with your veterinarian about specific breathing problems common with the brachcephalic dogs.

Brachycephalic breeds, with their broad skulls and short muzzles, frequently show some degree of airway obstruction, which is known as Brachycephalic Syndrome, or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Signs of brachycephalic syndrome include mouth breathing, snorting, snoring, gagging and choking. These difficulties can severely affect the affected dogs' quality of life by interfering with play, eating, and sleeping. The airway obstructions responsible for these breathing difficulties become more pronounced when the dog is exercising or is overheated, and because this syndrome often results in chronic inflammatory changes, the syndrome tends to worsen if left untreated.

A recent study by the Royal Veterinary College, published on May 10, 2012 in the journal Animal Welfare, reported an alarming statistic: an overwhelming number of "short-nosed" dog owners do not believe their pets have breathing problems, despite observing severe clinical signs! This study, unfortunately, mirrors what has been my own experience in private practice when speaking with owners of short-nosed dogs.

According to the study, "58% of surveyed owners stated that their dogs did not have breathing problems, despite over two thirds showing difficulties during exercise."

It is important that all owners of brachycephalic dogs know that the breathing noises that they may believe are "normal" for their breed are actually ABNORMAL and indicate airway obstruction. If you own one of these adorable dogs, I would urge you to speak with your veterinarian about evaluating your dog for brachycephalic syndrome. There are many effective treatment strategies for improving the ease of breathing and quality of life for these patients. For this syndrome in particular, it is very important to intervene as early as possible, before irreversible changes occur, to ensure the very best possible long-term outcome for your pet.

Read more or contact Dr. Bacon:
Laura Devlin Bacon, DVM DABVP
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Knoxville, Tennessee  |

Dr. Bacon services the Greater Knoxville Area, including Farragut, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, Clinton, Luttrell, Maryville, Sevierville, and Dandridge.

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