Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs
Can be both very serious as well as life threatening if it reaches a severe stage

Brachycephalic syndrome in dogs is a very serious and potentially deadly set of conditions that can cause labored breathing, gagging, or snorting.

It can also cause of the most chilling sounds you will ever hear from your dog, coughing.

If it severe enough, it can also very easily cause your dog to collapse.


This condition in dogs has a very definitive description as the term Branchy means shortened while the term cephalic means head.

As such, this is a syndrome where the skull as well as the face and nose of your dog are shorter than it was intended to be in nature.

Because of this, it causes a grouping of conditions to slow the airflow through your dog’s upper respiratory tract, primary affecting the nose and the larynx.

It is caused by anatomic abnormalities that are related to the shortened bones as a result of the compressed face.

That by itself would not present a serious threat, but it is combined with the fact that the overlapping soft tissue is not in proportion to these shortened bones, which.

Cute small dogsBreathing as well as inhaling is compromised

As a result of this, these excess soft tissues restrict the airway.

Brachycephalic syndrome in dogs is also referred to by other names,.

They are brachycephalic respiratory syndrome or congenital obstructive upper-airway disease.

Because it is a syndrome, there are several conditions involved, but it is slightly different than most syndromes.

Typically a syndrome is a collection of conditions that come together, but in this case your dog may have just one of the conditions, some of them, or all of them.


The first form of abnormality with brachycephalic syndrome in dogs is referred to as stenotic nares, which is a condition where your dog’s nostrils have a very severe narrowing in them.

The next is called an elongated soft palate where the soft tissues extend into the back of your dog’s throat and as a result, it blocks airway.

some cases it may be just slight blockage, while in other cases it may become partial in nature.

The next form of abnormality includes your dog’s laryngeal sacs. These sacs or saccules are very small out pouching spots that are located in the voice box, or the larynx.

When pressure is placed on the respiratory system as a result of the nares and elongated soft tissues, these sacs basically are sucked into your dog’s airway which complicates the flow of air even further.

The final abnormality in brachycephalic syndrome in dogs is narrowing of their wind pipe, or the trachea.

Just one of these conditions of brachycephalic syndrome in dogs can make breathing in your dog much more difficult.

However if two or more combine together, it can make this basic life function very difficult.

They will have a very difficult time not only breathing, but also inhaling.

As this syndrome becomes worse over time, it may also lead to swelling in their voice box as well as their throat.

It may also eventually cause your dog’s tonsils to actually protrude in their throat and as a result it may collapse part of the larynx, the trachea, or both.


Brachycephalic syndrome in dogs has some misconception about the breeds that it actually affects, and this misconception is that it only affects small breeds.

However, the facts are that it while it does affect a lot of small breeds of dogs, it also affects any breed that are genetically inclined to have a compressed face.

It also will affect both males and females equally.

The most common breeds affected are boxers, English Bulldogs, Chinese pugs, Shar Pei, Lhasa Apso, Pekingese, King Charles spaniels, and Boston Terriers.

These breeds may all have signs of brachycephalic syndrome at birth, but the actual symptoms generally do not start to appear until your dog reaches what is considered early middle age.


Brachycephalic syndrome in dogs is also different than other syndromes where the symptoms are usually limited and much defined.

With this syndrome, there are several symptoms that your dog may show you ranging from mild to life threatening.

The first set of symptoms in most any affected dog will be both labored and a noisy form of breathing.

Once these start, your dog will naturally become reluctant to exercise or go on walks of any kind as will appear to be out of breath.

This is not just an appearance, they are now having a difficult time just breathing.

The next set of symptoms with brachycephalic syndrome in dogs will include gagging as well as snorting, as they are trying to inhale properly but they cannot.

This will than lead to the most chilling sound you will ever hear your dog make; coughing.

Once this occurs, they may start to develop Cyanosis, which is where they will turn blue due to lack of oxygen. Once this symptom occurs, collapse is usually the final symptom.

However, the list of symptoms does not end there, as brachycephalic syndrome in dogs will present even more problems for your pet.

They will become over time much for susceptible to heat stroke, start to have a difficult time in swallowing, and start to exhibit strange body posture.

This will be caused by your dog trying to place their body in a position where it is easier for them to breath.

They will also become much more susceptible than an average dog to both dental problems as well as eye problems.

But there is one final set of symptoms that will challenge them, infections in their face.

Because of the increase in folds in their skin because of the abnormalities, bacteria can very easily develop and then grow in these folds, making them subject to a litany of infections.


Brachycephalic syndrome in dogs at one time was a death warrant for your dog.

However, because of the technology today there are several things that can be done for your dog surgically.

There is one critical factor that any owner with the affected breeds must do.

They must identify it as early as you can and then do everything you can nutritionally and with supplements to keep your dog from becoming overweight.

If your dog is overweight it will drastically reduce their chances of living a normal life span with this condition.

The stenotic nares can easily be opened with surgery by removing small wedges of tissues form the nares which will immediately allow the miracle of air into your dog.

The elongated soft palate can also very easily be shortened with surgery so it no longer protrudes into your dog’s throat and impedes the flow of air.

This can be done using lasers, is very fast, and causes very little bleeding which means there will be no need for stitches.


Brachycephalic syndrome in dogs can very easily take your dog’s life if is not identified and treated as early as possible.

The success level is much higher if it is caught very early and corrected as soon as you can.

If you have a breed that is prone to this syndrome and see any symptoms at all, get them to your veterinarian as soon as you can.

It can be expensive in small countries, which is one reason you should always consider insurance for your dog.

Not all veterinarians can perform this surgery, but they can identify the syndrome and place you with a professional that can make your dog’s life much richer and longer.

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