Hamilton Specialist Referrals offers a specialist clinic for brachycephalic dog breeds, also known as short-muzzled or short-nosed dogs. Brachycephalic dogs can suffer from long-term health problems that affect their breathing, eyes, bones and gait, heart, skin and ears.
These dogs have compressed skulls that result in overcrowding of the soft tissue within the skull and are at risk of developing respiratory problems such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). We see this condition more commonly in certain breeds, with Pugs, English Bulldogs and French Bulldog over-represented.
What are the signs of BOAS?
The most common clinical signs include:
- breathing difficulties
- noise whilst breathing
- reduced exercise tolerance
Some of our patients will have periods of sleep apnoea and associated restlessness at night – owners may note their dog sleeping with a toy or object in their mouth
When to refer a case for BOAS assessment?
If you are concerned about a patient with the clinical signs above please contact us to arrange a referral. Research has shown that early intervention is likely to result in a better outcome for the patient.
We will perform an initial assessment of these patients which includes a full historical assessment, exercise tolerance test, airway assessment and diagnostic imaging.
Rhinoscopic view of the nasopharynx
Alar fold (inner nostril)
Image of a Laryngeal collapse
CT evaluation of the airway
We use this information to decide the best surgical and post-surgical management strategy. Typically, surgery will involve a palatoplasty (reducing the length and thickness of the soft palate), laryngeal sacculectomy and rhinoplasty (widening of the nostrils).
Modified folding flap. Palatoplasty end of surgery (soft palate resection)
Palate surgery healed, 6 weeks post op
In some cases we may need to perform more advanced surgery to open the airway within the nostrils. This procedure (turbinectomy) uses a laser to remove some of the tissue within the nasal passageway.
Rhinoplasty (widening of the nostrils) to improve airflow
One of our patients wearing their protective eyewear essential for laser treatment.
What are the potential complications of Surgery?
Surgery is aimed to improve the flow of air through a restricted airway. Because of the nature of this condition it is not always possible to completely resolve the underlying airway compromise. For these patients a degree of airway compromise will remain despite appropriate surgery.
Patients with respiratory compromise do have an increased risk of anaesthetic complications – as such we work closely with our Anaesthesia specialists to make any intervention as safe as possible.