Brachycephalic breeds - preparing for the worst

02 April 2019
2 mins read
Volume 10 · Issue 3

Welcome everybody to May's issue of The Veterinary Nurse. This month has seen me present numerous lectures on respiratory patients, with the big focus being on brachycephalic breeds. I feel that the veterinary industry is truly pushing forwards to raise public awareness about the impact that conformational changes have on these animals. As a profession we no longer tolerate the use of brachycephalic breeds in advertising, but the sad fact is that the general public may never realise this.

I begin to wonder whether we need to have brachycephalic champions within practice. This could entirely be veterinary surgeons or nurses who own, or have previously owned, brachycephalic breeds; I personally had a rescue Bullmastiff - would this place me in the position of being the best person to advise owners regarding the issues they are likely to encounter owning one of these patients? Should we be encouraging owners to opt for surgery sooner rather than later? We know there are primary components as to why this group of animals have airway system changes, which include stenotic nares, elongated soft palates and hypoplastic tracheas. These abnormalities are further complicated by secondary changes such as everted laryngeal saccules, laryngeal collapse and everted tonsils; all of which reduce further the airway diameter and contribute to worsening respiratory compromise and clinical signs. As we see an increase in popularity of these breeds, we see them present more regularly for anaesthesia, which poses further problems. How many of us have time, or the staff, to offer one to one patient care, which I, personally, feel these patients require? Sedation of these patients will result in excessive relaxation of upper airway muscles, potentially worsening airway obstruction. If these patients are left unobserved, it could result in patient death.

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