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Bulldog Breathing Problems

Bulldogs are prone to a number of breathing disorders. Most can be corrected with surgery. Covered disorders are:

Elongated Soft Palate:
This is the most common breathing disorder. The soft palate is the flap of skin at the back of the throat. If the palate is too long, it blocks the airway making it difficult for the dog to breathe. The dog can also choke on or spit up pieces of kibble and even pass out from lack of air. Signs are excessive panting, unable to calm down quickly when excited, and possibly vomiting. Loud, raspy breathing when overheated is another symptom.

A vet can check the palate by looking down the dog's throat, many times while the dog is awake if he/she is calm and will allow it. Otherwise, a mild sedative can be given so the vet can do a thorough check.

Surgery can be done to shorten the palate but is not suggested until the dog is about a year old as the palate may still grow when they are pups, and another procedure may be required at a later date. Sometimes the dog may need to have laryngeal saccules or tonsils removed also, and the vet will do this during the palate clip if required.

Laser surgery is now the most common way to shorten the palate. It cauterizes as it cuts, which cuts down the bleeding and swelling, and lessens recovery time. During post-op recovery, only soft food should be given to allow the throat time to heal. Hard kibble can be irritating. Rice/ground beef or chicken, soft dog food, eggs, oatmeal and even baby food are some of the meals that can be fed. Kibble can also be softened with hot water or a gravy.

Healing time varies by dog but normal time is between 2-3 weeks.

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Hypoplastic (narrow) Trachea:
Bulldogs tend to have small tracheas considering their size. The average trachea measures between 6-9, which is based on the size of the trachea tube used during surgery. The higher the number, the wider the trachea.

The most common signs of a narrow trachea are shortness of breath, gurgling sounds, wheezing, The only way to know if your dog has this is with an x-ray.

Unfortunately, nothing can be surgically done to correct this problem. The best way to treat this is to limit strenuous exercise and keep the dog’s weight down. The less weight, the less strain on the body.

Many bulldogs live long and happy lives with this as long as they are monitored carefully.

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Pinched Nares:
The nares (nostrils) are pinched tight so the dog doesn't get a good amount of air through the nose. Nares can be widened with surgery. The inside of the nares are scraped, allowing a larger opening to let more air pass.

Note: Whenever considering any type of surgery on your bulldog be sure you go to a vet that specializes in this breed.

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Reverse Sneezing:
The real name for reverse sneezing is paroxysmal respiration. Paroxysmal respiration is commonly described as a "reverse sneeze" because for all purposes it does look as if a dog is trying to inhale a sneeze. When this occurs, your Bullie will appear to be snorting or choking with the neck extended and the chest expanded, as the she struggles to take in air.

Physiologically, the trachea has narrowed and the normal amount of air is not able to enter the lungs. In most cases, this not a serious problem and it looks much more horrifying than it is. If this is happening to your Bulldog, do not panic. You can help your her by soothingly stroking the upper throat area to encourage relaxation and dilation of the trachea. Other have had success gently pinching the nostrils together until the Bulldog swallows. This is usually all that is necessary. It is important to remember that most attacks will stop without doing anything at all.

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Note: This document is provided for information purposes only. Lord Goliath's Bulldog Domain does not guarantee the veracity of this information. Under no circumstances should this information replace the advice of your verterinarian.