Respiratory Issues in Flat-Faced Dogs and Cats

Sure, those flat-faced bulldog and Persian cat faces are cute. But, as the State-Journal Register reports, the squashed-in snouts that go with those features can cause these animals very real problems with their respiratory systems.

Respiratory Issues in Flat-Faced Dogs and Cats

The nose knows…sometimes it can be tough to breathe through that little sniffer.

Because turbinates are packed so tightly within the nasal cavities of flat-faced breeds, brachycephalic dogs and cats are more prone to health issues arising from obstructed breathing. They have to “work harder to breathe, which can cause stress and swelling of the tissues lining their respiratory tract, further exacerbating the respiratory problem.” As these pets age, the simple act of breathing can become excruciating.Bulldogs and Persians—as well as pugs, boxers, Shih Tzus and cats known as Himalayans—are what are called brachycephalic breeds. This means that they have short muzzles and, consequently, less room for “the complex roles of bone structures” known as conchae or turbinates. In both dogs and cats, these structures “protect airways and lungs by trapping and filtering particles.” They also humidify the air that comes into the respiratory system, “provide a first line of defense for the immune system and play in a role in the sense of smell.”

If you own a flat-faced dog or cat, it’s important that you keep them at a healthy weight since “obesity exacerbates their breathing troubles.” Once they add extra body fat, it’s very difficult for them to lose it. The exercise that would help their long-snouted counterparts is hard on their brachycephalic systems because breathing is already compromised.

Corrective surgical procedures—which include “fixing pinched nostrils [and] making sure [that the] soft palate doesn’t block [the] airway” also exist. However, they may also disqualify your dog or cat from the show ring. If you’re unsure about what to do for a flat-faced pet with respiratory problems, the veterinarians at Wells Branch Pet and Bird Clinic can offer the care and advice that will help your furry friend breathe a little easier.

Call Wells Branch Pet and Bird Clinic at (512) 339-8472 for veterinary services.

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