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Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet

June 15 2021

Do you have a brachycephalic pet? Several of our canine companions, including the Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles, English Mastiff, Pekinese, Pug, and Shih Tzu, are brachycephalic. As for kitties, many Persian, Himalayan, and Burmese are brachys. In this article, a local vet discusses caring for a brachy.


 Health Issues

As you may know, those cute flat faces come with a price. Brachys often have a really hard time getting enough airflow through their short nasal passages. This can be quite dangerous, as they can easily get out of breath, sometimes after just mild exertion. You should never encourage Fido or Fluffy to run or play vigorously.


Surgery

There are surgical procedures that can correct two of the common issues caused by brachycephaly: malformed nostrils and an elongated soft palate. These issues often lead to snoring, gagging, coughing, trouble eating, and vomiting, so an operation that can help is definitely something to consider. Of course, every pet is different, so this is not an across-the-board recommendation. Ask your veterinarian for more information.


Gear

You’ll need to use a harness, rather than a collar, with brachycephalic dogs. It’s much too easy for collars to cut off Fido’s airflow. This can happen with any pup, but it’s extremely common—and dangerous—for brachys.


Obesity

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is also important. Fido and Fluffy are already short of breath: if they are overweight, they’ll be panting after even mild activity. Extra pounds will make it even harder for your pet to get the activity they need to stay fit and healthy. 


Heat

Overheating is dangerous for all of our furry friends, but it’s especially concerning with brachys. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat, and they can’t cool themselves by panting as well as other dogs and cats can. These guys can get into serious trouble very quickly in hot weather. First and foremost, make sure your pet always has fresh water. It’s also best to keep brachys safe and sound indoors when it’s really hot out, in rooms cooled by fans and/or AC. Fido shouldn’t swim, but he may enjoy wading in a kiddy pool, or playing in the spray from a hose or sprinkler. Of course, like any other dog, your pup may also appreciate a cold treat on hot days.


Grooming

Many brachys have skin folds. These can collect bacteria, so you’ll need to take care to keep your pet’s skin clean. Follow your vet’s instructions.


Do you have questions or concerns about brachys? Contact us, your veterinary clinic!

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