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Dog Brachycephalic Syndrome

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Dog Brachycephalic Syndrome

Pugs are prone to having Brachycephalic Syndrome.

Dogs and cats have long been bred with the preferences of their human owners in mind. Breeds have been developed through domestication and certain features often become the focus of a breeding program. This has led to some unique looking animals such as the Chinese Pug, Pekingese, Shar Pei and the boxer dogs as well as the Himalayan USA or Colourpoint Longhair and Persian varieties of cats. If you have ever seen one of these animals, you know that their face is wide and in some cases almost perfectly flat. This has resulted in a condition known as brachycephalic syndrome, which causes much difficulty in the animal’s ability to breath easily.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Due to the extreme flattening of the face on these animals, they are pre-disposed to airway restrictions and have difficulty breathing. The term Brachycephalic simply means shortened head, but with the shortened head comes several anatomical differences that can also cause severe problems. Potential issues may include:

• Long Soft Palate- the soft palate is the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth that normally only extends to the epiglottis. When animals have a pushed in face this soft tissue will sometimes be too long and cover the epiglottis causing snoring, choking and other breathing problems.

• Stenotic Nares- Simply defined, this is a narrowing of the animal’s nostrils

• Narrowed Trachea- the windpipe is narrow thus making breathing labored

• Laryngeal Saccules- On the voice box there are small pouches called saccules. Since these animals, many times labor to breath, these sacs can become inflamed which then further obstructs the airway.

Signs and Symptoms

All of the problems associated with brachycephalic syndrome involve, in some way, the breathing of the animal. If you do have one of these breeds of pets, it is important that you pay attention to any signs and symptoms, which include gagging, choking, Cat Coughs, Dog Coughs, hard or labored breathing, restlessness, and, in general, any problems surrounding their ability to breath easily and normally.

You may notice that your dog or cat becomes severely winded when they engage in any type of exercise. Chasing toys, taking a walk or playing in general can really take it out of your pet. While some of this could be normal, such as pet being overweight, it is important with these breeds to rather be on the safe side. There are many treatment options today including laser surgery.


The type of surgery your animal requires will depend on which or how many common anatomical malformations they have. For instance, it is very common to see elongated soft palate and eversion of the laryngeal saccules to come hand in hand. The age of your pet and overall health will also play a role in how successful surgery will be, which is another reason to catch brachycephalic syndrome early.


Owning one of the many exotic type breeds of cats and dogs can be a true joy, their small scrunched up faces are simply adorable. However, if you want to enjoy your pet to the fullest for many years to come it is important that you be on the lookout for brachycephalic syndrome. The treatments are pretty simple and when caught early the prognosis is excellent.

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