Purebreed Health

Purebred pets are defined as an animal which is the result of selective breeding.

Unfortunately due to the effects of inbreeding, these breeds can be more prone to health problems. Some defects that can occur from purebred lineage can be a susceptibility to the following; respiratory issues, cancer, heart disease, ocular disease and disorders, skin issues, joint disease and neurological conditions.

One of the most common purebred health issue that we see at Johnston Street Vets is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.

What does Brachycephalic mean?

Some dog breeds are classified as brachycephalic. “Brachy” means shortened and “cephalic” means head. The skull bones of brachycephalic dogs are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a “pushed in” appearance. Due to the shorter bones of the face and nose, the anatomy and relationship with the other soft tissue structures are altered; which can mean physical problems for the affected dog.

Examples of these breeds are British, Australian and French Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston terriers, Pekingese, Pugs, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Bull Mastiffs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

What does Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) mean?

BOAS refers to a particular set of upper airway abnormalities that affects brachycephalic breed dogs. The upper airway abnormalities that occur in this syndrome include stenotic nares (narrowing nostrils), an elongated soft palate, a hypoplastic trachea (abnormal growth of trachea) and everted laryngeal saccules (soft tissues that can obstruct the airway).

An individual dog with BOAS may be affected with a combination of one or more of these abnormalities. You may have noticed your dog snores or gets exhausted easily on warm days. Other signs to look out for if you have a brachycephalic dog are:

  • Respiratory noise
  • Stenosis of the nostrils
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea / sleep-disordered breathing
  • Heat intolerance
  • Cyanosis (blue gums) and collapse

If you find your dog is one of the breeds mentioned and is showing any of the above signs, we would recommend a veterinary consultation. One of our veterinarians can assess your dog for BOAS using physical and functional grading tests.

Surgical Procedures

What is involved with BOAS surgery?

Surgery is recommended if the anatomic abnormalities interfere with a dog’s breathing. These procedures can be done individually or at different stages within a pet’s life, however the earlier the abnormalities are corrected the better.

Stenotic nares can be surgically correctly by removing a wedge of tissue from the nostrils, allowing improved airflow.

An elongated soft palate can be surgically shortened to a normal length. Everted laryngeal saccules can be surgically removed to eliminate the obstruction in the larynx.

Post-operative recovery varies with each patient and which procedures are performed, but respiration will be closely monitored by the veterinary team. Dogs under 2 years of age at the time of surgical correction have had a better post-operative prognosis than older dogs. This is something that can be added on to other procedures such as de-sexing or if your pet is already under going general anaesthesia for another medical reason.

We perform this surgery routinely here at Johnston Street Veterinary Clinic. Your dog would be admitted in the morning and stay with us for most of the day. It may be necessary for your pet to be monitored overnight at a nearby 24-hour clinic. However, usually the day after surgery most dogs make a smooth and uninterrupted recovery.

Surgical correction and treatment can greatly alter and increase the quality of life for a brachycephalic dog.

This is why we offer and recommend this service to our squishy faced friends when deemed necessary.

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