If you have a brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breed of dog, then you need to take special care to keep him or her breathing properly. Short-nosed breeds often need medical intervention to fix anomalies in their anatomy. Here is more information about short-nosed dogs and the special modifications and precautions they require to keep them healthy.
What Dog Breeds Are Considered Brachycephalic?
Brachycephalic literally means "short-headed," but most people recognize these breeds as flat-faced or short-nosed dogs. The English bulldog is a prime example of a brachycephalic breed, but Boston terriers, Pekingese, pugs, mastiffs, and boxers are also popular breeds.
Why Do Brachycephalic Breeds Have Breathing Problem?
Brachycephalic breeds were bred for many generations to have increasingly shorter faces and large-looking eyes. As a result, their breathing passages and trachea are often too small for their size. They also have an elongated soft palate that blocks their throat and small nostrils. These dogs often snore and breathe extremely loud most of the time.
How Can the Veterinarian Help Alleviate Breathing Problems?
Veterinarians can sometimes perform surgery to open up the airways and reduce the soft palate so that the dog has a larger breathing passage. Nearly all brachycephalic dogs can benefit from some type of corrective procedure. However, these operations are risky, so they are usually reserved for the worst situations.
What Precautions Do Brachycephalic Dogs Need?
One important thing you should know about brachycephalic dogs is that taking them on an airplane is extremely risky. Even in a pressurized cabin, many brachycephalic dogs can stop breathing. Also, because of their small trachea, you should use a harness rather than a collar when you leash your dog. Dental issues are also a problem, so be sure to take good care of their teeth.
How Can Brachycephalic Dogs Be Made Comfortable?
Make sure you feed your brachycephalic dog a healthy diet and give them plenty of exercise. However, that exercise should not be during the hot part of the day because their short face makes panting harder. Keep your dog cool on a hot day with cooling mats, fans, and air conditioning. Take extra care to keep the folds around your dog's nose and eyes clean to reduce infections.
With proper care and precautions, your brachycephalic dog should live a fairly normal life. Consult your veterinarian any time you want to travel with your dog as well as if you notice worsening breathing problems. If you have just adopted your dog, then see a veterinarian for a complete pet wellness exam.