Ever wondered why your pet Pug is a chronic snorer, or is a constant noisy breather ?
Well, it is likely down to their anatomy. Flat faced, short headed breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese, French Bulldog, British Bull dog, and the Shih Tzu are most commonly affected by BOAS.
Their shortened skeletons and normal size soft tissue result in overcrowding of their breathing apparatus leading to severe breathing difficulties and digestive upsets.
The most common malformations of their breathing system include: narrow nostrils, elongated soft palate, hypoplastic (narrow) trachea (windpipe), and crowding of the nose and throat.
This can result in symptoms such as:
Panting (even when resting)
Unable to exercise properly
Struggling to keep up with other dogs
Needing regular breaks from exercise
Unable to cope with hot weather
Gastrointestinal signs include: regurgitation, vomiting, inappetence, gastric and oesphageal ulcers.
Whilst the list above can appear quite alarming, its important to remember that each individual will be affected to different degrees so do not despair. There are successful surgeries, medications and lifestyle changes that can allow a normal healthy lifestyle. An appointment with your vet for an assessment of health and conformation is a great first step.
Treatment of BOAS is generally surgery, to widen the nostrils and shorten the soft palate. Supportive treatment for the digestive system is also prescribed if they are suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms.
Lifestyle changes are important to prevent over stressing your pets breathing system. Avoiding overheating on hot days is essential. It's advisable to walk or exercise them during the coolest part of the day (morning and night), keeping them out of the hot sun in the day, and allowing them to swim and keep cool on a walks. It is important they are kept fit, and to gradually increase exercise, so avoid those sporadic long walks if they are not used to it.
Weight management is essential in animals suffering from BOAS, as overweight animals suffer more severe signs.
Avoid breeding from animals with BOAS. There are breeding schemes that scores the breathing of potential breeding dogs, from zero to three (three being the worst), the combined score of the mother and father can give an idea of the likelihood of BOAS severity in the pups. Animals with a high score are advised not to breed, there are schemes available for Pugs, French bulldogs and Bulldogs.
Insuring your pet as soon as possible, before clinical signs develop is highly recommended for these breeds.
If your dog develops sudden breathing problems, contact your vet immediately.