Certain breeds of dogs and cats are prone to difficult, obstructive breathing because of the shape of their head, muzzle and throat. The most common dogs affected are the “brachycephalic” breeds. Brachycephalic means “short-headed.” Common examples of brachycephalic dog breeds include the English bulldog, French bulldog, Pug, Pekingese, and Boston terrier. These dogs have been bred to have relatively short muzzles and noses and, because of this, the throat and breathing passages in these dogs are frequently undersized or flattened (Figure 1). Persian cats also have a brachycephalic conformation.

The term Brachycephalic Syndrome refers to the combination of elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules, all of which are commonly seen in these breeds.

Elongated soft palate (Figure 2) is a condition where the soft palate is too long so that the tip of it protrudes into the airway and interferes with movement of air into the lungs.

Stenotic Nares (Figure 3a) are malformed nostrils that are narrow or collapse inward during inhalation, making it difficult for the dog to breathe through its nose.

Everted Laryngeal Saccules (Figure 4) is a condition in which tissue within the airway, just in front of the vocal cords, is pulled into the trachea (windpipe) and partially obstructs airflow.

Some dogs with brachycephalic syndrome may also have a narrow trachea (windpipe), collapse of the larynx (the cartilages that open and close the upper airway), or paralysis of the laryngeal cartilages.

Before & After Pictures