Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs and Pekinese are dogs called brachycephalic or “short- head”. Brachycephalic dogs are bred to have very short noses. What has actually happened with all those years of selective breeding however, is that the nose has been shortened somewhat but it has also been pushed back into the head. This has led to a triad of problems with these breeds. Starting from the front we first see the narrowed nostrils of these dogs. To get a feeling what it is like for these dogs to breath, plug your nose with your fingers and try to breathe through your nose. Or try to breath through a small straw. Not very comfortable is it?! The next problem is further down in the back of the mouth or the pharynx. The top of the mouth is covered with a soft flap of tissue called the soft palate. If this gets pushed too far back it can get trapped in the opening of the larynx or windpipe. The dog will actually be choking on his own mouth! That cute funny sound of your dog gagging is actually him choking – not funny at all. If these problems are left uncorrected the dog will be trying to breathe with great effort and be sucking but with no air coming, he will suck the sides of his larynx. When this happens, two little sacs called the lateral ventricles can be pulled inside out and further clog the airway. The end result is that your dog is walking around desperate for a breath through his whole life.
All of these problems can be corrected with surgery. Some veterinarians may be uncomfortable with these surgeries and be hesitant to recommend them, but if your short nosed dog is making noise while breathing he is probably in need of surgical assistance. We at Gentle Vets are extremely comfortable with these surgeries and have even coordinated with re-knowned plastic surgeon Randy Wong in performing and perfecting these surgeries on his own pugs. Watch this excellent video to better understand this dangerous problem:
If your brachycephalic dog is making noise while breathing he will probably benefit from corrective surgery. Your dog would do anything at all to help you. Please help him get an easy breath! Give us a call to schedule a thorough upper airway examination.