DrDonnaSpector-Morgan2011_250wQuestion: My vet has diagnosed my dog with the Brachycephalic Syndrome breathing problem and has said he needs surgery. Can you tell me more about this and why he is affected? He is a 2 year old Boston Terrier.

Answer: Dogs who have a “pushed in” face are known as brachycephalic breeds. These breeds have a higher incidence of breathing problems because of their “normal” anatomy which includes these shorter skull bones. The features of the Brachycephalic Syndrome include stenotic or pinched nostrils, elongated soft palates in the back of the throat and problems with excess tissue or pouches around the voicebox (called everted laryngeal saccules) and smaller than normal windpipes (called hypoplastic tracheas).

Some affected dogs have only one or two of these features and others—who are more severely affected—will have all the features. Affected dogs often sound congested, snort or make loud noises when they are excited or are exercising and many will snore loudly when they sleep. They may be intolerant of activity because of the restrictions to their breathing.

Surgery can often help significantly improve the breathing issues and help improve an affected dogs quality of life. It is also critical to keep affected dogs lean as excess weight or obesity can severely aggravate the signs associated with the Brachycephalic Syndrome.

Hope this helps.
Dr. Donna Spector

Answers provided to pet owners by Dr. Donna Spector should be considered information and not specific advice. Answers are to be used for general information purposes only and not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific professional advice from your veterinarian. Communications on this site are very limited and should never be used in possible cases of emergency. Halo, Purely for Pets will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any information or content contained in a blog or article post. If you have consulted your veterinarian and if you are still concerned about your pet’s condition or if your pet has chronic, complicated or undiagnosed problems, Dr. Spector can offer consultations for you and your veterinarian via

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  1. Janet Lenderman says:

    I have a dachshund with skin issues. She has dry patches and the hair is coming off her tail. I have tried changing her diet giving het baths in medicated shampoo. Nothing seems to completely clear her up. Help!

  2. Halo says:

    Hi Janet,

    Thanks for your question. A fatty acid supplement can often really help combat dry skin patches and hair loss—regardless of what is causing it. Check out my article for some other ideas of what might be going on:

    Dr. Donna Spector

  3. dianna says:

    i am all new to imha as i got this from my vet today on my little hayley my chihuahua. i was told that she most likely came down with this from her last shots as she has such a bad reactions.i feed halo dog food …as i have since the 1980’s with all the pets . i guess my question is will hayley need a special diet now. all test that were done didn’t show kidney or liver damage. but her red blood count was 8.5 and the vet said that at 14 they do transfuions as i type she is at the vet hospital getting a tranfuion we will be able to see her at midnight tonight. it hit fast as when i came home from work hayley did not come running she just layed in her bed. i noticed she wasn’t looking or breathing as usual i do not know why i looked at her gums but i did they were almost white just a slight color to them .. i called and was on my way… to hear immune mediated hemolytic anemia i had never heard of this before.but during my waiting to go see hayley i have been on line reading and i am so very scared and helpless feeling at this time. also her kidneys and liver all was normal from the blood tests but her blood was cloting fast , about the shots everyone of my dogs had a reaction to their shots and so did a friend my sister dog and my mothers dog. what is it with shots now? this is so mothers dog’s fur fell out at the sight of the shot with a lump under the skin 6 months after the sisters dog got cancer at the sight of shot.of course hayley will have a wavier from her shots now but i worry that i may face this with another dog that had a reaction. will halo be good for hayley still?

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