The Blunt-Faced Bulldog

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When humans began meddling with the genetic make-up of dogs several centuries ago, it wasn’t long before someone hit upon the idea of producing a dog with a unique look by giving it essentially no nose at all. What eventually resulted was an abundance of flat-faced breeds like Boston terriers, French and English bulldogs, and the Chinese pug. Dogs like this are collectively known as “brachycephalics,” a term derived from two Greek words, brachy and cephalic, meaning short and head.

Thanks to their “adorable” attributes like smiling mouths and sterterous breathing, these breeds have exploded in popularity over the last 10-15 years, with one source reporting a 2,747 percent increase in French bulldog registrations since 2004. However, these very same traits, often referred to as brachycephalic syndrome, are often indications that the animals are struggling to breathe, a fact which surprises most owners. A recent study found that while about 40% of brachycephalic dogs have significant difficulty breathing due to this syndrome (based on veterinary exams of these dogs), only 18% of the owners believe that breathing is difficult for their dog. It seems therefore that there is a disconnect between dog owners, who see these breathing patterns as normal or even cute, and veterinarians, who see instead a concerning health issue that can lead to difficulty sleeping, heat intolerance, exercise intolerance, obesity and even death by asphyxiation.

Fortunately, there’s a surgery for that. Brachycephalic airway surgery, which Dr. Sane routinely performs at our clinic, involves opening up the airway at several locations in the face, head and throat to facilitate easier breathing. Although dogs who undergo this procedure typically go home the same evening, Dr. Sane occasionally will monitor these cases overnight and send them home the next day.

If your dog is one of the above breeds, especially if he or she snorts/snores/wheezes, give us a call today or send us an email to schedule a consult. Together, we can help both you and your dog rest easier at night.

For a more in-depth explanation of what brachycephalic surgery entails, please read our interview with Dr. Sane himself.

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