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Is Your Short-Muzzled Dog Having Breathing Problems?

Story at-a-glance
  • A recent study conducted in the UK revealed owners of brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short muzzles) often don’t realize their pet is struggling to breathe.
  • A problem common in these dogs is brachycephalic airway syndrome, which includes a number of upper respiratory problems affecting the nose, mouth and/or throat of pets with “pushed in” faces.
  • “Brachys” have constricted upper jaws, which causes the soft tissue to be crammed within the skull. Symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome include noisy or labored breathing, gagging, choking, problems breathing during physical exertion, and overheating.
  • Breathing problems can prevent your dog from enjoying the simplest things in life, like eating, sleeping, play and exercise. In dogs with severe airway obstruction, the struggle to breathe can be continuous. Left untreated, the situation gets progressively worse, as do the symptoms.
  • It’s important for owners of brachycephalic breeds to understand the difference between normal and abnormal breathing sounds in their dog, and to see the vet if they notice any unusual breathing or other signs of respiratory distress.

By Dr. Becker

A recent study points to the possibility that owners of brachycephalic breeds (dogs with “pushed in” faces) mistake significant breathing difficulties in their pets for normal respiratory sounds.

The Royal Veterinary College at the University of London conducted a survey of the owners of 285 dogs who brought their pets to the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals for various reasons during a five-month period.

Thirty-one of the 285 dogs, including Boston terriers, bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, French bulldogs, Pekingese and pugs, had been diagnosed with brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome describes a number of upper respiratory problems affecting the nose, mouth and throat of dogs (and some cats) as a result of abnormal skull structure.

What surprised the Royal Veterinary College researchers was the fact that despite the dogs’ owners reporting significant respiratory symptoms, they did not believe their pets had breathing problems.

Breathing Difficulties Assumed to Be Normal

Short-muzzled dogs, or “brachys,” have constricted upper jaws, which causes the soft tissue to be compressed within the skull. Many of these dogs develop brachycephalic airway syndrome. Signs of the condition include noisy or labored breathing, gagging, choking, problems breathing with even minor physical exertion, and a tendency to overheat.

Every owner of a brachy said their dog snored – some even while awake – compared with fewer than two percent of non-brachycephalic dogs. But well over half the owners did not believe their pet had breathing difficulties, even though the majority of dogs had problems during exercise.

According to researchers, this indicates many owners of pets with brachycephalic airway syndrome don’t realize a problem exists and don’t seek help from a veterinarian. According to Rowena Packer of the Royal Veterinary College and one of the study researchers:

"Our study clearly shows that owners of brachycephalic dogs often dismiss the signs of this potentially severe breathing disorder as normal and are prepared to tolerate a high degree of respiratory compromise in their pets before seeking help. It may require a particularly acute attack, such as the dog losing consciousness, for owners to perceive a problem."

Many owners who were surveyed seemed to believe breathing difficulties aren’t really a problem if the dog is short-muzzled. One owner’s comment: “No to breathing problem – other than being a Bulldog.”

Dr. Charlotte Burn, lead researcher, warns that while short muzzles may be appealing-looking, owners of brachy breeds need to be aware the cute appearance often comes at a serious price to the dog. “Just because a problem is common, that doesn’t make it less of a problem for the individuals who suffer it,” says Burn.

Helping Your Brachy Breathe Better

Breathing difficulties can prevent your pet from being able to enjoy the very simplest things dogs naturally love to do, like eating, sleeping, play and exercise.

Dogs with severe brachycephalic airway syndrome can have almost continuous difficulty getting enough air. It’s not unusual for these dogs to collapse from lack of oxygen.

Left untreated, the problems tend to progress over time, with worsening symptoms.

The Royal Veterinary College researchers encourage parents of brachycephalic breeds to learn the difference between normal and abnormal breathing sounds in their dogs, and to make an appointment with a vet if they notice any unusual breathing or other signs of respiratory distress.

Unfortunately, surgery is often the only option to resolve significant breathing difficulties resulting from brachycephalic airway syndrome. The treatment goal is to surgically remove the tissues or structures causing airway obstruction.

Things you can do as the owner of a brachy include keeping your dog fit and trim. Overweight and obese dogs have much more serious respiratory difficulties than pets who are kept at an ideal weight.

Keeping your dog out of hot, humid environments is also important to support normal respiration and prevent overheating.

And since stress exacerbates virtually every health problem, especially breathing difficulties, keeping your dog’s life as stress-free as possible is also recommended to support your pet’s health and quality of life.

Related:

Reverse Sneezing, Chihuahua Honks or Mechanosensitive Aspiration Reflex

Collar to Keep Track of Dogs’ Temperature is in the Works

K-9 dies after being left in hot patrol car

See: Temperatures Are Rising: Be a Dog Defender: Help Save Animals This Summer! Cool Ideas for Hot Dogs – Please be proactive and vocal… you could be saving a life and definitely saving animals of a lot of suffering!!

August 24, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Running of the Bulldogs

Running of the Bulldogs

Photo by Cedric Podschun

Local Bulldogs Were Invited to Participate in First Ever “Running of the Bulldogs” in downtown San Diego. DowntownDogLover.com hosted a “Running of the Bulldogs” as part of their official Launch PAW-ty festivities on Saturday August 8, 2009.

They invite all breeds of bulldog (including American, Aussie, English & French) to participate in the charity event which took dogs and their owners on a 6 block course through downtown San Diego ending at the DDL Launch PAW-ty. Participants were required to dress in all white or light khaki could run, walk or wheel their dogs through a small downtown course for $10.00 per dog. A portion of proceeds will go to the FACE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides financial grants to animal owners who are unable to partially or fully cover the cost of their pet’s emergency or critical care.

Let the walk begin!
Let the walk begin!
Mush!
Mush!
Taking the humans for a walk.
Taking the humans for a walk.
The Kissing Booth
The Kissing Booth
Keeping cool in the pool.
Keeping cool in the pool.
A Skate Dog.
A Skate Dog.
A very cool stroller dog.
A very cool stroller dog.

—————

Pet PawDid you know?  Many sick and injured pets are abandoned or euthanized because their owners are unable to cover the cost of their emergency or critical care needs.

The FACE Foundation provides financial assistance to animal owners who are unable to cover the full cost of their pets’ critical or emergency veterinary care.

As many people today experience increasing economic challenges, their pets are suffering too. The number of people who cannot afford critical medical care for their sick or injured pet is growing at an alarming rate.

In what is being labeled as ‘economic euthanasia,’ these beloved companions are being euthanized because their owners cannot afford the often unexpected cost of treatment needed to save their lives. The FACE Foundation was created to address this tragedy. What started out as a beautiful vision to stop the surrender and euthanasia of beloved family pets, has become a supportive center where families in crisis can get a helping hand to save their pets’ lives.

The FACE Foundation is the first of its kind in San Diego County. While there are wonderful charitable groups focused on finding homes for pets without families, there are no other organizations that are singularly dedicated to saving the lives of pets that are already in loving homes, but whose families cannot pay for all or part of the emergency or critical care they need to survive.

FACE relies solely on donations to continue its mission of providing access to life saving veterinary care and to enhance and preserve the quality of life for these loving pets.

Source:  Good Bloggie and Downtowndoglover.com

Posted:  Just One More Pet

August 11, 2009 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Events, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pet Health, Pets, Stop Euthenization, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment