What is Brachycephaly and how does it affect my pet?

THE brachycephaly - name that comes from the Greek "braqui", which means short and "cephalic", which is head - it is a deformity in the bones of the head, which is seen in the form of a flattening of the skull, making the head less long than normal, and it may also appear that the head is taller when viewed from the side and wider when seen from the front.

This deformity can be seen both in dogs, cats and in the man himself - and in this case, it can lead to problems such as the slower maturation of neurons or even worse situations, depending on the level of the deformity. It is believed that in humans this characteristic is caused in newborns by the long stay in the same position when lying down.

Brachycephaly in pets

One of the big factors that led to the high incidence of pets that have brachycephaly it was the interference of the human being in the creation of new races. By acting as a mediator in the reproduction of dogs and cats, the man started to select the characteristics that he wanted to be passed on to the new breeds - either for some aesthetic purpose or because it is a necessary characteristic for him.

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In many cases, this selection focused only on improving a certain trait - such as a keen sense of smell, or easily learning how to obey commands on a hunt - without taking into account what it could do to dogs and how it would affect them. As a result, many new characteristics emerged and these were not always favorable to animals, and brachycephaly is one of them.

THE brachycephaly in dogs and cats it can be seen as the “flat nose” of the pet. In many cases this ended up becoming the charm of the breed, which means that this characteristic continues to be selected and is part of the breed standard, despite often triggering several other health problems.

A dog or cat that suffers from brachycephaly is one in which the skull bones have fused together too early, which makes all the structures in their heads tighten in the skull - or as many would say, it's almost as if the dog's brain was bigger than the head. Thus, many of the animals of the breeds that are affected by brachycephaly have respiratory problems at different levels of severity. An interesting fact is that in nature there are no cases of animals with brachycephaly, which proves that this is a problem that was generated by humans during the creation of new species of domestic animals.

Brachycephaly in dogs

Everyone knows that one of dogs' main senses is their sense of smell; and that is exactly why brachycephaly is such a harmful anomaly for our dog friends. It can cause a number of breathing problems as the dog's airways become narrower due to the flattened snout. In some cases, brachycephaly is so pronounced that it can even cause chronic inflammation in the pet's pharynx.

Since most people are unaware that this is a disorder so harmful to the health of dogs, many breeds have become known precisely for being brachycephalic breeds, that is, with a flattened snout - such as Pug, Pekingese, Bulldogs, among other breeds.

An interesting detail is that during the process of evolution of this picture, the man selected dogs that had the lower jaw of normal size and only the upper one being recessed - which is why in many of these breeds it is possible to see the lower teeth in some of the dogs.

Usually dogs do not show all the symptoms of brachycephaly, but it is extremely important that their owners are aware of this problem and that they make regular visits to the veterinarian to assess the health conditions of their puppy.

Some of the most common problems that can arise in brachycephalic dogs are:

  • Stenosis of the nostrils - This is nothing more than the name used by veterinary professionals for dogs that have narrow nostrils. Brachycephaly makes the nasal opening too narrow and small for the dog, making it difficult for the animal to breathe. In more severe cases, surgical intervention may occur, but it is not a fully reversible condition.
  • Elongated soft palate- The soft palate is the structure that separates the oral cavity from the nasal passages. In dogs that have a flattened snout - known as brachycephalic dogs - this structure is loose in the throat, which causes dogs to produce a sound similar to snoring. In theory, all dogs that are affected by brachycephaly would suffer from this problem, but in most breeds - the big exception is the Bulldog - it is not enough of a problem for the dog's breathing. But dogs that gasp too much or bark a lot can end up getting a swelling in their throat, which can end up interfering with the animal's breathing.
  • Tracheal hypoplasia: The brachycephalic dog has a very narrow trachea in some places. Therefore, when performing any surgical procedure, it is essential that the veterinarian does an x-ray before anesthetizing your pet, as this can become a great risk to his health - since brachycephaly interferes with the amount of anesthetic that must be applied to the dog. To avoid complications during or after surgery, in addition to radiography, the most advisable is the use of anesthesia through inhalation, as it is less invasive.
  • Heat stress: Because they have all these problems with their airways, even the act of panting in the heat becomes inefficient in dogs that suffer from brachycephaly. A normal dog, when panting in the heat, causes the air to enter more quickly, causing the saliva to evaporate and lowering the temperature of the blood that passes through the dog's tongue, helping to keep the dog's temperature under control on hotter days. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your dog is always within the ideal weight and that he is not too exposed to heat on hot days.

In addition to nasal problems, dogs suffering from brachycephaly they may also have problems with the positioning of their eyes, which may appear bulging and in some cases hinder the flow of tears or even cause their eyelids to not close completely.

Another problem that is also common in dogs of these breeds is to suffer from the positioning of their teeth; as the upper jaw is set back, dogs' teeth have less space to grow and so they can end up growing at different angles in the dog's mouth, which helps in the development of dental diseases earlier, as they are more likely to collect leftover teeth. portion. To avoid this it is advisable that the owner tries to brush the dog's teeth regularly.

Brachycephaly in cats

The first breed of cats we think of when it comes to mashed face is the Persian. As in dogs, these cats suffer from respiratory problems that affect not only their energy for playing with other dogs and cats, but also hinder the maintenance of the body's body temperature.

Because they are so sought after and generate a lot of profit for breeders, in some European countries laws have been created that try to regulate the extent to which this is allowed, although none of these laws cite the brachycephaly explicitly. However, the cat breeds with the most flattened snout remain the main preference in contests and also among cat breeders.

Exactly for this reason, in many cases cats - mainly those of the Persian breed - are unable to feed themselves, as their teeth become misaligned, reaching the point that their owners need to prepare their food with a consistency similar to that of a baby food so that the cat can eat, since it cannot chew normally.

In cats, brachycephaly causes excess skin to occur on feline faces, which can cause infections - both bacterial and fungal - and even a dermatitis that is known as feline acne.

The big problem with brachycephaly is that it is a deformation of genetic origin and, as long as breeders and buyers do not take seriously all of these health problems that may arise, all that remains is to try to mitigate the effects of this disorder on our dogs and cats, always making regular visits to the vet and keeping the health of our four-legged companions up to date to prevent the pet from suffering.

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Video: Brachycephalic syndrome explained well. Or, why does my dog snore and how can I help? (July 2021).