If you are the loving owner of a pug, a French bulldog, a Pekingese or a Boston Terrier to name a few, it’s likely that you have heard of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome at some point, even if you were unsure of what exactly it meant. If the term doesn’t ring a bell, keep reading to find out how this condition can affect your furry friend.

So, what exactly is this condition?

Perhaps we should start by breaking down the word brachycephalic – ‘brachy’ means ‘shortened’ while ‘cephalic’ refers to ‘head’. Dogs with this condition have shorter bones in their skull, giving their face a ‘pushed in’ look and changing the way their soft tissue is structured. While pugs, bulldogs and other breeds are often considered cute because of their squished appearance, it’s possible for this syndrome to cause serious problems for your canine pal if you are not informed of the risks and appropriate care methods.

How can it affect your dog?

Dogs with this condition can suffer from a range of health complications. Issues with their eyes, skin and breathing are common, and these breeds find it especially hard to tolerate the heat. Their flattened skull causes their eyes to protrude and exposes the cornea, leaving it more open to infection and trauma. Perhaps most importantly, the large amount of soft tissue in their small skulls makes it extremely hard for them to breathe properly, which in turn causes respiratory problems and prevents them from effectively regulating their body temperature in the way most other dogs do. This unfortunately makes them more prone to serious, and sometimes fatal, heatstroke issues.

How to care for a dog with brachycephalic airway syndrome

While there is no ‘cure’ for this condition, there are a number of surgical options available that will provide your pooch with some valuable relief from the symptoms and discomfort it causes. These surgeries tend to focus on clearing the airways to allow for easier breathing and ventilation.

For short term care, it’s important to understand that your brachycephalic pup won’t be able to keep up with dogs who don’t suffer from the syndrome. On hot days they are particularly susceptible to heat stroke and should not be taken for walks that last any more than 15-20 minutes. Respiratory issues also make swimming dangerous for these little guys as they are at risk of inhaling water as they breathe.

As always, if you are unsure of anything, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for their advice on the best way to care for your little loved one.