Brachycephalic Syndrome


Symptoms of brachycephalic syndrome include:

  • Noisy breathing
  • Overheating even in moderate weather
  • Labored breathing with only minimal exercise
  • Frequent gagging or throwing up of "froth" for no apparent reason
  • Cyanosis (a blue appearance of the gums due to lack of oxygen)
  • Syncope (fainting).


Diagnosis is often made based on the breed of dog and clinical signs.

Your veterinarian may also perform other diagnostic tests such as:

  • A physical examination, including listening to the chest with a stethoscope to help exclude other causes of respiratory difficulty
  • X-rays to determine if heart or lung disease is present
  • Visual inspection of the nostrils to identify stenotic nares
  • Examination (under sedation) of the mouth and larynx to diagnose an elongated soft palate and/or everted laryngeal saccules


brachycephalic syndrome

Mild cases may be managed through tranquilization, administration of oxygen, or anti-inflammatory steroids. Surgery before severe symptoms develop is relatively easy and has a more favorable prognosis than treatment later when the symptoms become more severe. Possible surgeries (depending on which conditions are present in your dog) include removing a portion of the nostril to increase airflow, shortening the soft palate, and removing the laryngeal saccules.

Some steps you can take to help manage this condition:

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  • Keep your dog from becoming obese - being overweight makes breathing more difficult.
  • Avoid stressful situations, such as exercise during hot, humid weather.
  • Use a harness instead of a neck collar.
  • See your veterinarian immediately if your dog has trouble breathing, becomes cyanotic, or collapses.

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