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Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet

June 15, 2021

Does your pet have one of those cute, smooshed-in faces? If so, you have a brachycephalic buddy! Several of our canine companions are brachycephalic. These include the Boston Terrier, English and French Bulldogs, Pekinese, Pug, Cavalier King Charles, English Mastiff, and Shih Tzu. As for our feline friends, the Persian, Himalayan, and Burmese are most likely to be brachys. A local vet discusses caring for brachys in this article.

Health Issues

Brachys are super cute. However, as you may know, those adorable flat faces come with a price. Brachys often have a very hard time getting enough air through their nasal passages. This can be quite dangerous, as your pet can easily lose their breath, sometimes after just mild exertion.


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


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


Keep your four-legged friend at a healthy weight. Fido and Fluffy are already short of breath: if they become overweight, they’ll be panting after even mild activity. Extra weight will make it even harder for your beloved pet to get the activity they need. 


Overheating is dangerous for any pet, but it’s especially hazardous for brachys. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat, and they won’t be able to cool themselves by panting the way 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 cool, fresh water. 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 in water over his chest, but he may enjoy wading in a kiddy pool or playing in the spray from a hose or sprinkler. Your pup may also appreciate a cold treat.


Many brachys have skin folds. These can collect oil and bacteria, which can cause irritation and infections. 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 hospital!

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