Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome : much more than a surgical problem

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
Journal / PublicationVeterinary Quarterly
Issue number1
Online published7 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022



Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is a chronic, lifelong, debilitating, primarily obstructive airway disease which adversely affects the quality of life of many popular dog breeds. Respiratory restriction in bulldog breeds, pugs and Boston terriers frequently co-exist with pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, many brachycephalic dogs that appear clinically normal are, in fact suffering from chronic hypoxia and its systemic consequences. Concurrent gastroesophageal reflux-associated conditions, sleep disorders and systemic hypertension further impact the welfare of affected dogs. Acceptance of BOAS and associated clinical signs as being ‘normal for the breed’ is common amongst owners. While surgical correction of the upper airway is the mainstay of treatment, the provision of subsequent, frequently lifelong medical management is equally important for the maintenance of an acceptable quality of life, at least for some affected patients. Here we review the current knowledge concerning brachycephaly, combine it with shared clinical experience in the management of this debilitating condition, and discuss ethical considerations and the responsibility of veterinarians to contribute public education and to support appropriate breed standards for animals under our care.

Research Area(s)

  • dog, canine, bulldog, brachycephaly, cephalic index, airway obstruction, dyspnea, surgery, ethical, welfare

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