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Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet

June 15, 2021

Do you have a brachycephalic dog or cat? Several of our canine companions are brachycephalic. These include the Pug, Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles, English Mastiff, Pekinese, and Shih Tzu. As for our feline buddies, the Persian, Himalayan, and Burmese are most likely to be brachys. A local veterinarian discusses caring for a brachycephalic pet below.

Health Issues

Brachys tend to be absolutely adorable. However, as you may know, those cute flat faces come with a price. Brachys often have trouble getting air through their nasal passages. This can be quite dangerous, as your pet can easily get winded, sometimes after just mild exertion.


When walking Fido, you’ll need to use a harness, rather than a collar. It’s much too easy for collars to cut off your pup’s airflow. This can happen with any pooch, but it’s extremely common—and dangerous—for brachys.


Some brachys will benefit from surgery. There are procedures that can correct two of the common issues brachycephaly causes: elongated soft palate and malformed nostrils. These problems often lead to snoring, gagging, coughing, trouble eating, and vomiting. Of course, every pet is different, so this is not an across-the-board recommendation. Ask your vet for more information.


Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is very important. Brachys are already short of breath: if they are overweight, they’ll be panting after even mild exertion. Obesity will make it even harder for your pet to get the activity they need to stay healthy. 


Overheating is of course dangerous for any pet, but it’s especially concerning with brachys. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat, and they aren’t able to cool themselves by panting as efficiently as other dogs and cats can. These guys can get into serious trouble very quickly in hot weather. First and foremost, make sure your pet always has fresh water. It’s also best to keep your furry pal safe and sound indoors when it’s really hot out, in rooms cooled by fans and/or AC. Fido shouldn’t swim, but he may enjoy splashing or soaking in a kiddy pool, or playing in the spray from a hose or sprinkler. Your furry buddy may also appreciate a cold treat, like doggy ice cream.


Many brachys have skin folds. These can collect oils and bacteria. You’ll need to keep your pet’s skin clean. Follow your vet’s instructions.

Do you have questions or concerns about brachys? Contact us, your veterinary clinic!

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