Brachycephalic dogs are all the breeds with short faces: Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and Boxers are the most popular breeds, but even Cavalier King Charles Spaniels fall into that category, but more mildly so.
Obstructive Airway problems in effected dogs contribute to that typical "snuffly" noise they make as they run around and get excited. Also it is the major cause of their snoring.
It is a problem we have created by breeding to create cute little dogs with a short face. These breeds have wonderful temperaments, just a few physical challenges as well.
Most of the problem comes from having nostrils that are too small (stenotic nares) and a palate that is too long (elongated soft palate) and manages to get caught over the front of the larynx and restrict the size of airway the dog has to breathe through. Longer term, this increased effort to breathe through a small airway (like drinking a thick shake through a popper straw) causes new problems to develop- the larynx itself becomes compromised- initially through some mucosal folds flopping into the space, but then the cartilages themselves start to collapse from the strain (laryngeal collapse). Without help, eventually the larynx can collapse completely and they need an emergency tracheostomy to allow them to breathe.
The surgery we do is to resect the overly long palate to reduce its interference, and to widen the nostrils. This make a big difference to their airflow and dramatically reduces their snoring, increases their exercise capacity and improves their quality of life.
There are two categories of patients 1) adult dogs in middle age who are struggling with their breathing- these guys have a dramatically improved quality of life and a visibly better capacity to breathe, but will have some ongoing effects from the secondary changes they have already suffered.
2) you dogs of the affected breeds having their surgery performed in their first year- these guys are still breathing fairly well, and by performing the surgery before they are desperate, we dramatically reduce the secondary problems. This is the preferred time for surgery.
Protocol:- our plan with puppies of the affected breeds is to perform the nostril surgery at the time of desexing at @ 6 months, and assess the palate at that time- if it's already long we will plan the resection at 12 months, if not we will reassess at 12 months. The nostril surgery is very precise, but recovery is expected to be uncomplicated. The cone they wear after desexing will also protect the nostrils, so sutures out in 10 days and all is well.
The palate resection is a little more complicated, and entails constant monitoring for the 24 hour recovery period, so they are hospitalised with their own nurse overnight to make sure there are no complications such as swelling which needs to be managed if it hampers their breathing.
They go home on a soft diet for a week, and to be kept quiet for 2 weeks, then back to their normal life.