The Oxford Dictionary definition of Brachycephalic is “having a relatively broad, short skull (typically with the breadth at least 80 per cent of the length).” So in other words, a squished face. But it means a lot more than just a squished face.
Brachycephalic syndrome is something to take seriously. In dogs with short noses, like pugs, it can mean some very serious breathing issues. But what causes brachycephalic syndrome? There are 4 underlying causes of the problem. In simple terms, they are narrowed nostrils, elgongated soft palate, reduced trachea size and short/irregular nasal turbinate.
The most common problem with pugs is the elongated soft palate which results in heavy, short breaths. This is more prominent during exercise, stress and heat. And because of the elongated soft palate, as well as the other problems, pugs find it difficult to take deep or fast breaths to blow out carbon dioxide, like most dogs normally do. And because of this, they get distressed which makes the breathing difficulties even more worse and can actually be life threatening.
What are the signs of brachycephalic syndrome? There are many signs and symptoms of the syndrome that you should look out for. Here are some of the signs:
- Noisy or laboured breathing
- High pitched wheezing
- Continually having their mouth opened
- Keeping their head up and neck stretched to help keep their airways opened
- Sleeping sitting up or keeping their chin up to help keep airways open
- Snoring, gagging, choking & vomiting
So what can you do to help your pug avoid these situations?
- Maintain ideal body weight
- Prevent stress
- Reduce exercise particularly in warmer weather
- Keep them cool (check out 7 Products to Keep Your Pug Cool this Summer)
- Avoid using collars for walking so not to put pressure on their airways. Use a harness for walking instead
- Seek veterinary advice for severe cases as surgery may be the best option to give your pug the best quality of life possible
All pugs suffer from Brachycephalic syndrome, it’s just a matter of how severe. Any sign of distress, as with any medical issues, always seek advice from your local veterinarian.