Treatment for Brachycephalic Syndrome
Short-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs and cats like Pugs, Shih-tzu's, Boston Terriers, Persians and others can suffer from Brachycephalic Syndrome. For these patients, their upper airways are obstructed in one or more ways leading to decreased airflow which results in noisy breathing, snoring and decreased activity. The primary problems are usually a result of small nasal openings called stenotic nares and an elongated soft palette.
Since dogs, and especially cats, do most of their breathing through their nose, when their nasal openings are too small they have to try very hard to breathe through these openings and so the pressure in their airway becomes very high. This high pressure creates a large amount of negative pressure inside the patient's trachea, or wind pipe. A simple comparison is trying to suck a milk shake through a straw. If the straw is too small it will collapse when pressure is applied to it. The trachea can have a similar result as the straw over time and also collapse resulting in a patient with harsh breathing, snoring, increased nasal discharge and decreased activity due to the reduced oxygen reaching the lungs. In extreme cases, patients can develop severely low oxygenation of tissues resulting in loss of consciousness and/or life-threatening consequences.
The recommended correction involves removing a small part of the nose to allow for a larger opening for air to pass through to the lungs. This is best done when patients are young and displaying no symptoms so as to avoid damage to the trachea and other structures that can be permanent. However, patients can have very good improvement in airflow after this procedure at any age. The correction can be done at the same time as other surgeries such as neuters, spays, mass removals, and dentals. Most owners report and immediate difference in their pet's activity and breathing after the procedure.
Elongated Soft Palette
The soft palette is a structure that hangs down at the back of the throat. It keeps food and water from entering into the nasal passages when an animal swallows. In brachycephalic dogs, the soft palette may be much longer than it should be resulting in it blocking the pet's airway when they breath. In patient's where it is severely obstructing the trachea, removal can significantly improve airflow and reduce the risk of permanent tracheal damage and collapse. The procedure is done entirely within the patient's throat and so minimal aftercare is necessary and again owners report almost immediate improvements in their pet's breathing and activity. Owners often tell us that they wish they had done this earlier for their pet. This procedure can be done at the same time as other surgeries or by itself.