All About Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Surgery And Care

Brachycephalic obstructive airway surgery is the ideal treatment to alleviate several dog breeds suffering from the elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules and provides them a healthy life.
The dog is the most faithful pet animal as it serves the owner day and night. However, all pet owners have a certain level of emotional attachment. From ancient times, dogs have been humanity's partner. So, it is heartbreaking for the owner if their pet suffers from any disease. 
In addition, some dog breeds are highly prone to obstructive breathing because of the throat, muzzle, or head shape. This article will define what issues dogs face due to brachycephalic syndrome, which dog breeds face this syndrome, the treatment for this syndrome, how to diagnose the issue, prognosis, surgical results, and whatnot. So, read on to know it all!

What Is Brachycephalic?

Before we get into the details of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and surgery, let's know the meaning of its name. The word brachycephalic can be divided into two halves. For instance, brachy refers to "shortened," and the cephalic means "head." Hence, the dogs that suffer from brachycephalic syndrome indicate that their skull bones are shortened, and their faces are also pushed inwards. However, the biggest issue of this syndrome is that the dogs face physical problems due to the alteration in the soft tissues.
Do you know the common dog breeds who suffer from this Brachycephalic airway syndrome? Have a look below:

  • Bulldogs French
  • Bulldogs English
  • Boxer Dogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Chinese Pugs
  • Pekingese
  • Lhasa Apsis
  • Shih Tzus
  • Bull Mastiffs

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

This brachycephalic airway syndrome relates to upper airway abnormalities, and it has another name that is a brachycephalic respiratory syndrome, congenital obstructive upper airway problem, or simple brachycephalic syndrome. For example, it affects the stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, nasopharyngeal turbinate's, laryngeal collapse, hypoplastic trachea, and everted laryngeal saccules. Unfortunately, the syndrome can affect the dog with one or more abnormalities. Now let's dig deeper into this syndrome's issues.

Stenotic Nares

The dogs will have small nostrils and which affects their breathing ability. For instance, the amount of air in the nostrils faces restriction.

Nasopharyngeal Turbinates' 

The nasopharyngeal turbinates' are the edges of the bone covering the tissues to humidify the warm air. But due to this excessive syndrome, an amount of airflow obstruction occurs.

Elongated Soft Palate 

Another major issue due to brachycephalic airway syndrome, dogs face the elongated soft palate. The excessive length of the soft palate blocks the trachea from entering the throat's back.

Laryngeal Collapse

This problem occurs when the cartilage of the larynx faces an excessive amount of stress. For instance, the voice box does not open as wide as it normally opens. Thus, the airflow faces even more restraints.

Hypoplastic Trachea

Due to this issue, the trachea becomes smaller than the standard length.

Laryngeal Saccules 

These are the small pouches that are present just near the larynx. So, the dog faces many breathing issues because they can further reduce the airway flow. Also, the dogs start to breathe with their mouth, and they require more effort to inhale the air.

Common Syndrome Signs

The dogs which are affected mildly will have noisy breathing signs. Moreover, the dogs will start snoring while relaxing or sleeping. In contrast, the severely affected dogs have more airway noise, get tired quickly, and may faint after some physical activity. Other than that, the dogs will be coughing, vomiting, retching, and gagging.
For instance, these signs commonly show up in humid and hot weather. Likewise, the dogs that have impacts on the gastrointestinal tract indicate the signs, including the lack of appetite, retching, and vomiting. The chronic issue that dogs can face is heart strain. The age of the dogs which usually go through the brachycephalic airway syndrome lies from 1 to 4 years. The dogs will several abnormalities face the problems mentioned above at an early phase.

"Commonly, a higher number of abnormalities increases the number of sings."


The diagnoses are possible per the dog's breed, clinical signs, and physical examination. Mainly, the stenotic nares can be diagnosed with a visual inspection. On the other side, the diagnosis for everted laryngeal saccules, elongated soft palate, and other associated anatomical changes in the mouth require anesthesia and heavy sedation. Another common issue is that dogs with this syndrome face more issues with general anesthesia. So, the veterinarian will suggest pre-anesthetic blood work and X-rays to monitor the health condition.


Before starting your dog's treatment, there mustn't be any signs of obesity. If the dog is overweight, the veterinarian will suggest some exercises to control the weight. Plus, it is crucial to avoid the conditions of the hot weather. Therefore, keeping the dog in the air-conditioned area during summer becomes vital and prevents stress.
More than that, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and oxygen therapy are granted to the patient to provide short-term relief from the syndrome and relieve respiratory distress. Nonetheless, the management of the condition before the treatment does not correct the severe anatomical abnormalities.
All in all, surgery is the only choice to correct the stenotic nares. This surgical procedure will remove the edges of the tissues from the nostrils for the perfect airflow and ease of breathing. Additionally, the surgery can shorten the elongated soft palate. Not only this, the everted laryngeal saccules can be removed to eliminate the larynx obstruction.

Surgical Outcomes

The abnormalities at the beginning of this syndrome are easy to resolve. Plus, the outcomes will be better if the syndrome is treated early. Indeed, the condition will get worse as the syndrome gets old. The correction of stenotic nares or elongated soft palate's function can be improved, and the prevention of everted laryngeal saccules is also possible.
In the postoperative period, the surgical site will have swelling and create some breathing interference. Thus, the veterinarian will be monitoring the pet after performing the surgery. The 24-hour monitoring depends on how well the surgical procedure went.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome Prognosis

The prognosis for the brachycephalic syndrome depends on abnormalities that the patient was suffering from and the dog's age. Those dogs of the age of two or below will have an efficient postoperative prognosis than the older dogs. Besides this, the dogs which face the hypoplastic trachea face unpredictable results. Conversely, dogs with allergic problems such as airway distress will have poor predictable results. Nevertheless, proper treatment management will lead to a healthy pet lifestyle.
Another notable factor for dogs who suffer from brachycephalic syndrome includes the usage of a harness that does not irritate the neck area. In addition, it is highly advisable to use the neck collar for the dogs as it prevents pressurizing the neck.

Note: The dogs who face breathing difficulty or require surgery or the correction of the airway obstruction should not be a source of breeding. Usually, the veterinarians highly recommend spaying or neutering the dog simultaneously when the surgical correction is done.