Geez Louise, why does my dog wheeze?
After all, that’s what you expect with a French Bulldog.
But lately, your pup seems to be really wheezing and gasping for air. And they’re tiring out much too quickly.
Do you think it’s time for French Bulldog nose surgery?
What is French Bulldog nose surgery?
If you have a dog breed with brachycephalic syndrome, a “short head” and an adorable smushed-in face – think Pugs, Boxers, and French and British Bulldogs – then you are probably familiar with the snorty way they breathe. Cosmetically bred over the years to have a shortened head and compressed upper jaw, these breeds have ended up with noses, throats and airways that are significantly reduced in size.
When talking about noses, French Bulldogs, like other brachycephalic dogs, have constricted, often slit-like nostrils called stenotic nares. This disorder makes it challenging for them to take in enough oxygen. As a result, they often revert to mouth breathing and excessive panting. If you’ve ever suffered from a cold with a stuffy nose yourself, you get the picture.
Fortunately, stenotic nares can be corrected with surgery and it is generally recommended for both moderate and severe cases. If surgery is deemed necessary, it should be done when your pet is about one year of age. A good rule of thumb is to have an evaluation when he or she is spayed or neutered.
Is stenotic nares surgery necessary?
As previously mentioned, years of cosmetic breeding have left French Bulldogs and other similar breeds with the short end of the stick when it comes to respiratory health. And while stenotic nares are a primary respiratory problem, they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Although French Bulldogs may have smaller noses, throats and airways, the soft palate and tongue as well as tissues within the nostrils have remained standard in size. Cramped for space, these tissues obstruct the flow of air in the upper airways. It’s just one more reason why your poor, sweet Frenchie sometimes gasps for a decent breath.
Brachycephalic breeds are subject to several respiratory disorders. In addition to stenotic nares, French Bulldogs may also suffer from an elongated soft palate. With a lack of sufficient space for the soft palate, it sometimes gets drawn into and stuck in the windpipe when the dog breathes. Sounds uncomfortable? Just imagine how your pet feels.
A secondary disorder to stenotic nares is everted laryngeal saccules. One result of not treating your pet’s escalating struggle to breathe is that the small saccules or pockets of their larynx will literally turn inside-out and block the throat.
Each of these upper airway obstruction disorders when grouped in whole or in part make up what is commonly referred to as brachycephalic syndrome or brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BOAS). Left untreated, they become progressively worse. French Bulldogs with BOAS may experience increased breathing difficulties, gasping, episodes of gagging and vomiting, weakness and an inability to tolerate exercise. Their heart may also be severely strained.
The good news is that stenotic nares surgery, and possibly elongated soft palate surgery can go a long way to improving your pet’s ability to breathe. Early intervention may help prevent everted laryngeal saccules and relieve stress on the heart. And who doesn’t feel better from simply being able to breathe deeply?
How much is surgery for stenotic nares?
The cost for stenotic nares surgery varies depending on the severity of the situation, but most pet owners should expect to pay between a few hundred dollars to one thousand dollars.
If you compare that to the cost of surgery for evaluating and treating multiple brachycephalic syndrome disorders, which can run into the thousands of dollars, stenotic nares surgery to alleviate your pet’s breathing problems may be a very sound choice.
Does Pet Insurance cover brachycephalic syndrome surgery?
There are a number of pet health insurance companies that provide comprehensive coverage for brachycephalic syndrome. However, because no pet health insurance covers pre-existing conditions, it is important to purchase a plan when your pet is young and healthy.
Note: Always check with your insurance provider about exactly what is covered, and what isn’t, and seek advice from a vet before moving forward.
A breath of fresh air
If your Frenchie’s breathing seems more labored than usual, if they lack energy, or if they gasp or wheeze, it may be time to talk to your vet. Getting your French Bulldog the nose surgery they need could extend its lifetime. And what better gift can you offer than a breath of fresh air?
Will is the proud co-owner of Frankie, a Female Brindle French Bulldog, with his wife Michelle. We share our Frenchie experiences with the world to help health-conscious French Bulldog owners who want a happy, healthy, and long-living dog.