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Affected Breeds

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  • Pug
  • English bulldog
  • French bulldog
  • Boston terrier
  • Boxer
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pekinese
  • Maltese

Some brachycephalic dogs have become very popular.
So, for example, in England, the number of registered French bulldogs increased 40-fold between 2007 and 2017!

Reasons for the popularity of these short-snouted dog breeds:

  • Sending out baby signals – therefore addressing our protector or maternal instinct
  • Friendly and open nature

The Brachycephalic Syndrome

The syndrome consists of several clinical pictures, which can be developed to different degrees.

Due to the shortening of the jaws, the nasal structures are “pushed together in a confined space”

The nasal conchae close the airflow
The nostrils themselves are narrowed
The soft palate (in our case the uvula) is a skin fold that is too thick and too long
The cartilage of the epiglottis (the epiglottis) rolls up laterally and the lateral parts tilt inwards due to the negative pressure
The trachea is small in relation to the size of the dog
The negative pressure leads to widening of the esophagus and reflux esophagitis (chronic inflammation of the esophagus, repeated oozing of fluid)
The gastrointestinal (digestive) tract exhibits chronic inflammation (IBD-like).

Diagnosis of Brachycephalic Syndrome

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Breath sounds and poor performance are clinically the most striking features. This affects the quality of life without the dogs showing any expression of pain. It is therefore difficult for dog owners to assess the extent of shortness of breath.

A distinction is made between a snoring breath sound – which is caused by the elongated and thickened soft palate – and a higher, more whistling breath sound, which can be an indication of a laryngeal or tracheal collapse.

The term “pug language” that some breeders/owners use to designate the snoring or whistling breath noise as typical of the breed is, in my opinion, a grossly negligent trivialization of a chronic lack of air.

The chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and the enlargement of the esophagus lead to more frequent vomiting or diarrhea.

The diagnosis is made under sedation (light anesthesia) by means of laryngoscopy (nose and throat), endoscopy of the trachea (gastroscopy) and CT of the head

Treatment surgical

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What options do veterinarians have to improve the situation of the individual dog?

The soft palate should not only be shortened, but also “thinned out”. It is usually advisable to also remove the chronically inflamed tonsils.
The nostrils should be examined – if the cartilage that determines the shape of the nasal plane obstructs the flow of air like a valve (at a depth of about 4 – 5 mm in the nose), the nostrils should be widened and a piece of the cartilage removed.
If the bony turbinates block the airway/which can only be assessed with a CT scan, there is the option of removing them from the oral cavity with a laser

Treatment non-surgical

Problems of the digestive tract can be positively influenced with a diet. There are also dogs that respond well to BARF, but it is EXTREMELY important not only to get information from the Internet – because “the network” does not differentiate between good and bad advice.

It IS IMPORTANT to seek nutritional advice for this, which can put together the feeding including supplements in a competent manner.

Possible complications

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Complications are possible, sometimes consisting in the tearing out of some sutures or a larger part, this can be easily corrected. It is therefore always advisable to carry out a check-up in sedation one week after the operation, because individual torn sutures do not cause any symptoms, but should be corrected.

Purulent discharge from the nose (especially with very narrow noses), which can be reduced by regular rinsing – and also disappears after healing.