Bulldog Respiratory Conditions
Certain breeds of dog are prone to difficulties breathing because of the shape of their head, muzzle and throat. The most common dogs affected are the “brachycephalic”, or “short-nosed”, breeds like the English bulldog. The throat and breathing passages in these dogs are frequently undersized or flattened.
The term “Brachycephalic Syndrome” refers to the combination of elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules, all of which are commonly seen in these breeds.
Elongated soft palate is a condition where the soft palate is too long so that the tip of it protrudes into the airway and interferes with inspiration of air into the lungs. Stenotic Nares are malformed nostrils that are narrow (stenotic) or collapse inward during inhalation, making it difficult for the dog to breathe through its nose. Everted Laryngeal Saccules is a condition in which tissue within the airway, just in front of the vocal cords, is pulled into the trachea (windpipe) and partially obstructs airflow.
Some dogs with brachycephalic syndrome may also have a narrow trachea (windpipe), collapse of the larynx (the cartilages that open and close the upper airway), or paralysis of the laryngeal cartilages.
Brachycephalic syndrome is considered to be an inherited condition. All brachycephalic breeds are prone to airway problems, and the shorter the nose is, the more likely it is that a dog will have respiratory difficulties due to one or all of the three problems. Obesity will aggravate the problems.
Elongated Soft Palate
Elongated Soft Palate, sometimes called “Noisy Breathing”, is synonymous with obstructed breathing. Breeds with “pushed-in” faces will usually show some degree of airway obstruction. This can result in mouth breathing, snorting and snoring. The difficulties are more pronounced during exercise and when the dog is hot. Many dogs with elongated soft `palates prefer to sleep on their backs. This is probably because this position allows the soft palate tissue to fall away from the larynx. The signs associated with stenotic nares and everted laryngeal saccules are similar.
In this disorder, there is some loss of function in the laryngeal muscles that normally open the larynx when an animal breathes in. This is caused by degeneration of certain nerves involved in normal breathing. The result is airway obstruction, to varying degrees, causing loud and labored respiration.
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