French Bulldog, Belle, started to experience difficulty breathing around a year ago, therefore her walks were reduced to a maximum of 20 minutes early in the morning and late in the evening. Sometimes, during her walks, Belle experienced moments of shortness of breath and had to stop at times. This prompted Belle’s owners to seek advice from their vet who then referred Belle to Pride Veterinary Centre for an assessment into the possibility of undergoing Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) surgery.
It was decided that in order for Belle to feel comfortable and enjoy her life, BOAS surgery was required. Belle was therefore anaesthetised, and her airway was examined. It was noted by Mark, our Specialist in Small Animal Surgery who performed the surgery, that Belle’s nostrils were very narrow. Several x-rays were taken of Belle to assess for lower airway disease. Belle was then prepared for surgery and part of her soft palate was removed and her nostrils were then opened. The surgery went well, and Belle made an uneventful recovery from her anaesthetic. She was later discharged the same day.
What is BOAS surgery?
Brachycephaly refers to short-nosed breeds of dogs (e.g. Pugs, English and French Bulldogs etc.). BOAS is a condition in which obstruction of the upper airway occurs, resulting from a combination of primary (congenital anatomic) factors i.e. narrow nostrils, long soft palate, and secondary (degenerative) changes such as laryngeal collapse (weakening of the cartilages of the voice box) and swelling of the soft tissues of the throat.
A common complicating factor is digestive signs (i.e. regurgitation/vomiting) which may be secondary to the airway obstruction or associated with a hiatal hernia (sliding of the neck of the stomach through the diaphragm).
What are the typical signs of BOAS?
The signs of BOAS include;
- Difficulty breathing during exercise
- Prolonged recovery after exercise or following exposure to warmer conditions
- Restlessness at night
- Regurgitation, vomiting, retching
- Snorting or snoring at rest or during exercise
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty to cope well in warmer weather
- Poor exercise tolerance.
Does my dog require treatment?
Surgery is typically aimed at improving the anatomic factors related to airway obstruction (widening the nostrils, shortening the soft palate). BOAS signs will often get progressively worse with time. If your pet is showing any of the above signs then an assessment and correction, if needed, is the best course of action to improve their quality of life long-term.
Short term prevention
It is particularly important for brachycephalic dogs to avoid heat. To prevent distress, ensure you take the following preventative steps.
- Avoid heat
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Use a harness rather than a collar
- Avoid overfeeding.
Should you dog show signs of distress, please consult your vet immediately.
If your dog is a short-nosed breed and they are showing signs of BOAS, please call 01332 678333 to seek advice.