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Clinic: 808-572-9003
Large Animal Team: 808-281-1087
Boarding & Grooming: 808-866-2109

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Corrective Airway Surgery

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Did you know that there’s a simple surgery that can allow your pet to breathe better, play better, and live better?

Dogs breeds, like French and English bulldogs, or any “Bully” dog breeds, like Boston terriers, Pugs, and Pekinese, all have a head shape that is shorter, therefore the structure of their throat and muzzle often causes breathing obstructions. These dogs are known as “brachycephalic” breeds, meaning “having a short head”.  

Brachycephalic Syndrome is diagnosed if the dog has stenotic nostrils, an elongated soft palate, and they may also have laryngeal saccules which are everted. These characteristics are common in all the breeds listed above.

An elongated soft palate, by definition, is longer than normal and the tip extends into airway passages.  This overly long soft palate restricts the air that is moved in and out of the lungs. Stenosis of the nostrils means the nasal airway is too narrow and restricts air flow when breathing through the nose.  Laryngeal saccules that are everted impede air flow entering the trachea.

For dogs who suffer from Brachycephalic Syndrome, treatment to remove excess soft palate is strongly recommended. This procedure is called a staphylectomy and involves the safe and effective removal of excessive soft palate with minimal complications. Correcting stenotic nostrils and removing everted laryngeal saccules can also be performed at the same time, if necessary.

At Makawao Veterinary Clinic, we utilize state-of-the-art equipment which allows us to perform safe and cost-effective same-day surgery that could change your pet’s lives forever. 

Signs and Symptoms  

Noisy breathing is one of the first signs in dogs who display Brachycephaly. The sound is typically more prominent when the dog is inhaling. Certain dogs will also have a gag reflex when attempting to swallow and will often show an intolerance of exercise. Sometimes their gums and their tongue turn blue if they are over-exerted in any way. Collapsing may occur, particularly after strenuous exercise.  

Becoming overly excited, or excessive heat and humidity may cause a dog with Brachycephalic Syndrome to overheat. The condition tends to worsen in dogs who are overweight. Dogs with laryngeal elongation also sometimes prefer sleeping on their back.

Signs of your pet gagging, coughing, being intolerant of exercise are common symptoms of the condition.  ANY SIGNS OF STRUGGLING TO BREATHE OR HISTORY OF OVERHEATING SHOULD BE ADDRESSED ASAP.

Diagnosing Brachycephalic Syndrome

Stenotic nostrils are usually evident during a physical examination and do not typically require imaging.  Diagnosis of everted laryngeal saccules, or elongation of the soft palate, can only be achieved when the patient is safely sedated. Under anesthesia, a positive diagnosis is made if the elongated soft palate extends past the epiglottis/airway entrance. The veterinarian might also recommend that radiographic images of the chest be obtained so that your pet’s trachea, lungs, and lower air passage can be evaluated.

Aftercare and Outcome

Young animals tend to have a better long-term prognosis; however, we regularly perform this procedure in older dogs with chronic breathing issues and can make amazing improvements in their quality of life.  See the video below of a middle-aged bulldog that struggled with Brachycephalic Airway issues for its entire life until we resected his soft palate and surgically opened his nasal airway.

If you suspect your dog may have Brachycephalic Syndrome, the first step is scheduling an appointment with Makawao Veterinary Clinic. For a limited time, we are offering a complimentary surgical consultation with our veterinary team. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and give your pet the gift of better breathing and a longer, happier, healthier life!

Makawao Veterinary Clinic

444 Makawao Avenue Suite A
Boarding & Grooming Suite B
Makawao, HI 96768
Clinic: 808-572-9003
Large Animal Team: 808-281-1087
Boarding & Grooming: 808-866-2109

Also serving Makawao, HI and surrounding areas.


Clinic Hours
Monday – Saturday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday: Closed

Boarding & Grooming Hours
Monday – Sunday
8:00 am – 12:00 pm
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

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