Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network

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Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

It’s that time of year again!!! Summer hot humid days!!!  Speaking of humidity, you should know that no one feels it more than dogs with short snouts like the Pug, Pekingese, Boston terrier, and Bulldog breeds, categorized as brachycephalic breeds. Our favourite short-nosed, broad headed dogs often experience partial obstruction in their upper airway due to their narrowed nostrils and long soft palate. They also have abnormally small windpipes (tracheas), and their voice box (larynx) can sometimes collapse. When this happens, it’s called Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, and it isn’t just limited to dogs, it can affect cats too.



Do you suspect your dog or cat might be suffering from the humidity? Here are some signs to look out for:

  • snoring,
  • abnormal body posture when they try to move air into their respiratory systems,
  • Increased incidence of dental and periodontal disease
  • Increased incidence of eye problems
  • Infections in the folds of the skin of the face
  • rapid breathing  (tachypnea),
  • noisy breathing when inhaling,
  • frequent panting,
  • difficulty eating or swallowing,
  • coughing and gagging,
  • inability to perform regular physical activity in warm, humid weather
  • physical collapse.

If you notice any of these symptoms, a physical examination by your vet may reveal further indications, such as narrowed nasal passage (stenotic nares), high body temperature (hyperthermia), and increased respiratory effort evident by open-mouth breathing and constant panting.


Just a little snip

Sometimes, a relatively small surgical procedure can make a world of difference for a brachycephalic pet. Some pet owners are opting for the “soft-palate resection” procedure for their dogs, a surgery that is meant to trim tissue from the soft palate to better allow air to flow from the mouth and nose into the trachea. Sometimes the procedure is paired with some rhinoplasty  to increase the nostril diameter and nasal air transporting capacity of dogs with stenotic nares. If breathing is a real problem, veterinarian surgeons can also offer procedures to fix other structures involved in the dog’s respiratory process.

This procedure generally takes less than 60 minutes, but the time it takes to first anesthetize and then recover after the surgery must be considered. Also, laser surgery excises tissue faster than traditional tools.

Talk to your local Pet Wellness Network vet to see if your short-snouted pet would make a good candidate, because these procedures can be costly, and they aren’t necessary for every short-snouted dog.


Hot Dogs

Dogs who suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome are also face heightened dangers from heat exposure! Since dogs don’t have sweat glands, they must pant to direct cooled air into their mouths, and their shortened airways leave less surface area to work with so they can’t cool themselves efficiently. As a result, even moderately hot temperatures can overload your pet’s cooling system very quickly, sometimes resulting in heat stroke and death.

If your pet tends to throw up, snore, snort, or mouth-breathe heavily, it may need some veterinary help. If you have questions about this type of surgery, call and speak to our knowledgeable Pet Wellness Network staff about your options.

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