Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome In Dogs
Today’s topic is going to be “Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome” which I am sure most dog owners are totally unaware of unless they have had a dog affected with the breathing problem.
What is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
This is more commonly known as BOAS which is a breathing problem in flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic syndrome.
This is where the windpipe in brachycephalic dog breeds is often deformed and narrowed, so less oxygen can be taken in with each breath.
Breaking this down for you to understand a brachycephalic (is meaning to have a short, broad head) breed may experience partial obstruction of the upper airway because of physical characteristics as in narrowed nostrils, an overly long soft palate.
The collapse of the larynx, also known as the voice box causes breathing difficulties and may occur because of an abnormally small windpipe (trachea), another characteristic common to brachycephalic breeds.
The trachea, or windpipe, divides into two main bronchi, which further divide several more times into smaller bronchioles, forming the bronchial tubes that feed air into the lungs.
Causes of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic airway syndrome stems from the dog’s unique head shape, brachycephalic (is meaning to have a short, broad head) which is inherited at birth, dogs are diagnosed as young adults, generally by the age of three years old.
The main characteristic reported in nearly 100 percent of cases of dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome is an elongated soft palate, as opposed to the collapse of the larynx or small trachea.
Another about 50 percent of all the cases of dogs suffering from the brachycephalic airway syndrome comes from narrowed nasal passages due to the deformity.
There are factors that may increase the risk and further complicate the condition further including obesity, allergies, over-excitement, and overextended exercise, which may cause rapid breathing that the obstructed airway cannot manage.
These problems can get worse in hot, humid weather, which will lead to excessive panting for the dog. Avoiding health risk factors such as obesity which can worsen inherent respiratory problems.
Symptoms and Types Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
Symptoms of an obstructed upper airway may include snoring, rapid breathing, noisy breathing when inhaling (similar to a rasping sound), frequent panting, difficulty eating or swallowing, choking and gagging, inability to perform physical activity, especially in hot, humid weather, and occasionally physical collapse.
Taking them in for a physical examination may be required to reveal further indications, such as stenotic nares (narrowed nasal passages), abnormally high body temperature (or hyperthermia), and increased respiratory effort evident by open-mouth breathing and constant panting.
Seeking treatment is not necessary unless the dog exhibits clinical signs. In order to avoid this, risk factors, such as hot and humid weather or allergens, should be avoided.
Diagnosis of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
If brachycephalic airway syndrome is suspected, two primary diagnostic tests that will be used are a laryngoscopy (or pharyngoscopy) and tracheoscopy, in which a small fiber-optic scope is inserted through the mouth to examine the larynx/pharynx and trachea.
This can reveal characteristics such as an overlong palate or collapsed trachea (commonly known as the windpipe) or larynx (voice box).
Other possible diagnoses include the presence of a foreign body that is obstructing the airway, an infection in the upper respiratory system, and an allergic reaction that has caused the airway to swell.
Treatments for Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
Exact treatment is dependent upon what sort of symptoms are present the severity of the symptoms will depend if breathing assistance and oxygen supplementation may be necessary, and if the airway is obstructed it must be opened.
This can be done by passing a tube through the mouth and windpipe (known as an endotracheal tube) or via a surgical cut in the windpipe (known as a tracheostomy).
There are also surgical procedures that can be done to prevent airway problems in brachycephalic breeds, such as the widening of narrowed nostrils or the shortening of an elongated palate.
Should the dog undergo any emergency surgical procedures, it needs to be strictly monitored and continuously checked for breathing rate and effort, heart rate, pulse, and temperature, among other characteristics in a surgical unit.
There are corrective surgical procedures, such as the shortening of an overlong palate, or correction of narrowed nostrils, can help prevent respiratory problems in brachycephalic breeds and usually requires an overnight stay at a surgical unit.
Some more common brachycephalic breeds are the pug, bulldog, boxer, chihuahua, and Shih Tzu.
This is just one of the things a responsible dog owner needs to be aware of when selecting a new breed of dog to fill the spot in their life as a new best friend and be aware to check out the breeder you are getting your new best friend from.
Nowhere did I find that this is hereditary but always knowing the health history of the breed is the best way for you to prepare for the future of taking care of your new best friend.
The breeds I listed are the ones most common to having this BOAS, and I am sure there are other breeds with the short snout that could have breathing problems too so always keep your eyes on the health of your best friend.
If your dog is over-weight and it is hot and humid out do not put them through any more pain and suffering to take them out for their daily walk even if they want to go a quick run out to the yard to do their business and back in will do.
Keep them inside in air-conditioning or if you do not have air-conditioning give them a fan and provide them with a way to stay cool until the weather breaks.
Have you ever had a dog affected with BOAS?
Did your dog have to get any surgery to remedy the situation?
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