Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Early Intervention At Tuggeranong Veterinary Hospital

Brachycephalics are short muzzle breeds such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Australian Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Pekingese and Boxers. Most have narrow nostrils, over long soft palates, small windpipes and over long nasal turbinates which obstruct normal breathing. This leads to snoring, snorting, risk of heat stroke, vomiting and regurgitation and trouble exercising.

The aim of early intervention is to limit the progression of more life threatening problems by opening the nostrils (alar fold resection) and shortening the overlong soft palate (staphylectomy). More normal breathing should reduce the sucking effect on the voice box, stomach, oesophagus, windpipe and bronchi, hopefully preventing (or at least slowing) any life threatening changes.

Alar fold resection and staphylectomy are best performed at 5-6 months and can be combined with desexing. See the diagrams below for more information on how their nose will look postoperatively.

Postoperative care: soft food only for 7-10 days (dried food can be soaked in water for 10 minutes before feeding, avoid exercise or rough play for 2 weeks, anti-inflammatories and monitoring for any nose bleeds or gagging with eating. Post operative swelling can take some weeks to settle so snoring and snorting can be temporarily worse.

Early intervention can make a big difference but weight control is an essential part of successful surgery. All brachycephalics should be exercised with care and kept out of hot weather conditions. Brachycephalics with progressive signs may also need a CT scan for nasal turbinate problems or voice box surgery with a specialist.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel