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Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet

May 15, 2021

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

Health Issues

Brachys are absolutely adorable. Unfortunately those cute flat faces come with a price. Brachys often have a hard time getting enough airflow through their nasal passages. This can be quite dangerous, as your pet can easily lose their breath, and can be winded after even mild exertion. They are also prone to certain health problems, such as airway obstruction syndrome.


You’ll need to use a harness, rather than a collar, with a brachycephalic dog. It’s much too easy for collars to cut off your furry friend’s airflow. This can happen with any pooch, but it’s extremely common—and dangerous—for brachys.


There are procedures that can correct two common issues caused by brachycephaly: elongated soft palate and malformed nostrils. These problems often lead to snoring, gagging, coughing, trouble eating, and vomiting. Some brachys will benefit from surgery. Of course, every pet is different, so this is by no means an across-the-board recommendation. Ask your veterinarian for more information.


Keep your furry pal at a healthy weight. This is important for all pets, but is crucial for brachys. Fido and Fluffy are already short of breath: if they become overweight, they’ll be panting after even mild activity. Obesity will make it even harder for your pet to get the exercise they need to stay healthy. 


Overheating is another concern. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat to cool off, and panting isn’t as efficient for them as it is for other dogs and cats. This means that they can get into serious trouble very quickly in hot weather. First and foremost, make sure your four-legged buddy always has fresh water. It’s also best to keep your pet safe and sound indoors when it’s really hot out, in rooms cooled by fans and/or AC. Fido shouldn’t go swimming, but he may enjoy wading in a kiddy pool, or playing in the spray from a hose or sprinkler. Your furry friend may also appreciate a cold snack.


Many brachys have skin folds on their faces, which give them those cute expressive looks. These can collect bacteria, so 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!