BOAS – What is it, and what can you do to help?

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “brachycephalic” means “shortened head”, and refers to breeds with distinctives squashed facial characteristics, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Examples include the French bulldog, pug, Shih Tzu and boxer.

These breeds are intentionally bred to look a certain way, but an unfortunate side effect of this is that a very flat face can give your pet extremely narrow airways, making it hard for them to breathe normally.

Not all flat faced dogs suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), but if you can hear your pet making snorting or gurgling noises then this is a sign that they may be suffering from chronic breathing issues.

If you were already aware of the risks associated with a short snouted pet then you may very well have already had your dog evaluated by your vet. BOAS can vary significantly in severity, and while surgery is not needed for all dogs, it’s best to visit your vet when your dog is a puppy to see whether this might be necessary for your pet.

Aside from the extreme option of surgery, here are some preventative measures you consider to help your flat faced breed.


1) Parents – if you’re considering adopting a flat faced breed, make sure you meet both of the parents (a responsible breeder will always let you do this) and check that they both breathe well, with as little noise as possible.

2) Weight – keeping your pet lean and fit will greatly reduce the risk of BOAS.

3) Temperature – keep your pet cool by avoiding long bouts of exercise, and schedule walks for cooler parts of the day (i.e. morning and evening). Brachycephalics have far less tolerance to warm weather than other dogs because they have to pant more to reduce their temperature (hard to do when their airways are partially obstructed).

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