Brachycephalic breeds encompass large numbers of both cats and dogs. For those unfamiliar with the term, brachycephalic refers to dogs and cats that I loving refer to as, “smush face” pets. Breeds considered brachycephlic commonly include, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pugs, Persians, Scottish Fold, and many more. Poor breeding standards have worsened their conditions through the decades. Though all these breeds can make great pets, some are severely affected by Brachycephalic Syndrome which can compromise their quality of life.
Being born with a smushed face, though adorable to some, comes with many complications. Brachycephalic Syndrome consists of 5 abnormalities, not all pets are born with all 5. The most commonly diagnosed issues are stenotic nares and an elongated soft palate. Stenotic nares refers to narrow nostrils that restrict air flow and is part of why many bulldog breeds continuously pant. Think about breathing through a straw your entire life. At the back of the roof of the mouth the hard palate becomes softer tissue, the soft palate. In brachycephlic breeds, this tissue can be up to half an inch longer than that of other breeds and causes irregular breathing. Both of these conditions, if diagnosed, can and should be surgically corrected. The procedures are simple and most general practioners can perform them. It is recommended to be done at the same time as neutering, around 6 months of age. An enlarged tongue, narrow trachea, and everted laryngeal saccules round out the rest of Brachycephalic Syndrome.
Heat stroke is a concern with all brachycephalic pets as dogs rid themselves of heat through panting. These breeds already have difficulty breathing, and the stress of not being able to dissipate heat makes it easy for internal body temperatures to rise to dangerous levels.
When interested in adopting or purchasing a brachycephalic dog or cat, it is important to understand their potential health concerns and choosing the pet that is right for your lifestyle. Many of their issues can lead to large vet bills and low quality of life. We want your pet to stay happy and healthy!