Brachycephalic – meaning “shortened head” – refers to snub-nosed and flat-faced pets like pugs, Shih Tzus, Himalayan cats and lop rabbits, to name a few. Hazel Imrie, Managing Director at PETport, shares her expert tips for owning and looking after a brachy.
Each breed has unique care points to note. Therefore, it is essential to research how to care for your pet, especially when the breed is new to you. Choosing a pet that is the right fit for your family is equally as important.
While brachycephalic dogs are undoubtedly cute and popular among pet owners, they are prone to health issues. The most common is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), which is when the dog battles to breathe due to its short nose. This breed also has an elongated soft palate that can become floppy, causing it to fold down and close the dog’s windpipe.
Added kilos will add more pressure on your fur baby’s breathing, so watching your doggy’s weight is a must. Another thing to consider is exercise – never take your brachy for a walk/run in warm weather or keep your little one outside for too long during high temperatures.
Another common health issue faced by brachycephalic dogs is overheating. While all pets can overheat, a brachy tends to overheat faster due to narrow nostrils and a restricted airflow. Owners of brachycephalic dogs should look out for symptoms of overheating, including a blue tongue, red eyes and heavy panting.
Great ways to prevent overheating:
- Preparing a wet towel for your fur baby to lie on if they are showing signs of being warm.
- Placing ice cubes in their water bowl on warm days.
- Buying a splash pool for your pup to cool down in.( Make sure this is monitored)
- Keeping your pup in shaded areas on hot days.
- Getting a portable water bowl for your dog walks.
As an owner of a brachy, you need to consider that your dog may present rare health complications. They might have skin issues, so be prepared to clean your dog’s folds twice a day – both face and tail – because these areas can become breeding grounds for bacteria. They might also suffer from cherry eye, a condition that exposes the soft tissue underneath the eye, causing it to become inflamed. Surgery is often required to correct this.
If you’re planning on travelling with your doggo, here are several things to think about:
- Ensure you keep your fur baby cool in the car with the aircon on.
- Let them out for a toilet break, but not a walk out in the sun if it’s a hot day.
- Give your pup cool, fresh water often.
- Never sedate your brachy as this may relax all their muscles, this includes muscles in the throat which can contribute to breathing difficulties in an already challenging breed.
- When travelling by plane, check-in your dog as late as possible with the airline.
- Ensure that your brachy has a large crate with enough headspace to allow for proper air circulation.
- Ask for them to be placed in a cool area, away from direct heat.
- Travel only during the cool hours of the day avoiding midday heat.
We can all agree that brachycephalic breeds are some of the most adorable dogs, so no amount of health issues will stop us from adopting and loving them. However, it is important to be aware of the challenges they may face so that we can help them to lead happier and healthier lives.