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Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet

May 1, 2021

Is your pet brachycephalic? Several of our canine companions are brachycephalic. These include the Cavalier King Charles, English Mastiff, Pekinese,Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Pug, and Shih Tzu. As for kitties, the Himalayan, Persian, and Burmese are most likely to be brachys. A local vet discusses caring for a brachy below.

 Health Issues

Brachys are adorable, but, as you may know, those cute flat faces come with a price. Brachys often struggle with getting enough air through their nasal passages. This can be quite dangerous! Your pet can easily get out of breath, sometimes after just mild exertion. Don’t push your pet to run or play vigorously. Swimming–aside from some light wading–is also off the menu.


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


Keep your furry buddy at a healthy weight. Fido and Fluffy are already short of breath: if they are overweight, they’ll be panting after even mild exercise. Obesity will make it even harder for your pet to get the activity they need. 


You’ll need to use a harness on your four-legged pal, rather than a collar. It’s much too easy for collars to cut off your furry friend’s airflow. This can happen with any dog, but it’s extremely common—and dangerous—for brachycephalic pups.


Overheating is dangerous for any animal, but it’s especially concerning with brachys. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat, and they won’t be able to cool themselves off by panting as efficiently as other dogs and cats can. This means that they can get into serious trouble very quickly on hot days. First and foremost, make sure they always have fresh water. It’s also best to keep your furry friend safe and sound indoors when it’s really hot out, in rooms cooled by fans and/or AC. Cooling mats or pads can also help keep your pet comfy. Your pup may also appreciate a cold treat.


Many brachys have skin folds. These can collect bacteria, so 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!

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