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Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet
May 1, 2021

Is your dog or cat brachycephalic? Several of our canine companions are brachycephalic. These include the Boston Terrier, English and French Bulldogs, English Mastiff, Cavalier King Charles, Pug, Pekinese, and Shih Tzu. Kitties can also be brachys. The Persian, Himalayan, and Burmese are the most likely to fall into this category. A local vet discusses caring for a brachy below.

Health Issues

As you may know, brachys have very cute, flat faces. Unfortunately, that adorable look comes with a high price. Brachys have very short nasal passages, and they often have a hard time getting enough air. This can be quite dangerous, as they can easily lose their breath, even after just mild exertion.


Two of the common issues caused by brachycephaly are the elongated soft palate and malformed nostrils. These problems can lead to snoring, gagging, coughing, trouble eating, and vomiting. There are surgical procedures that can help with these issues. Of course, every pet is different, so this is not an across-the-board recommendation. Ask your veterinarian for more information.


If your dog is a brachy, you’ll need to use a harness on him, rather than a collar. It’s much too easy for collars to cut off your pet’s airflow. This can happen with any pup, but it’s extremely common—and dangerous—for brachys.


Be sure to keep your pet at a healthy weight. Fido and Fluffy are already short of breath: if they get too chubby, they’ll be panting after the slightest activity. Obesity will also make it even harder for your pet to get the activity they need. It can also contribute to other health problems. 


Overheating is dangerous for any pet, but it’s especially dangerous with brachys. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat, and they can’t cool themselves by panting as efficiently as other dogs and cats can. These guys 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 brachys safe and sound indoors when it’s really hot out, in rooms cooled by fans and/or AC. Fido shouldn’t swim, but he may enjoy wading in a kiddy pool, or playing in the spray from a hose or sprinkler. Your furry buddy may also appreciate a cold treat.


Many brachys have skin folds. These are adorable, but they can collect bacteria. 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!