What is BOAS?
BOAS simply means ‘problems breathing due to having a short-head’, and sadly, is a result of selective breeding. BOAS commonly affects flat- faced breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese, French Bulldog, British Bull dog, and Shih Tzu. Flat-faced breeds have become popular pets because of their ‘cute’ appearance and good nature – their snuffly breathing often considered loveable. Sadly these ‘loveable snuffles’ are a sign that they are struggling to breathe due to BOAS.
BOAS is a combination of the following problems:
- Narrow nostrils
- Crowded nose and throat
- Overlong soft palate
- Narrow windpipe
Having narrow nostrils makes breathing difficult; some severely affected dogs have to pant to get enough air.
Crowded nose and throat?
Flat-faced dogs have a lot of nose tissue packed into a small space, which means they have to breathe through very narrow, crowded nasal passages.
Overlong soft palate?
Flat-faced dogs often have a large soft palate that sits further back than normal. It often covers the windpipe, which makes breathing difficult.
The soft palate can also cause problems during sleep – if it’s covering the windpipe you may notice your dog snoring or waking up suddenly gasping for breath.
A narrow windpipe makes breathing difficult, especially when exercising. Breathing through a narrow windpipe is a bit like trying to breathe through a drinking straw. There are also two sacs inside the windpipe that often become enlarged and cause further problems.
How to treat BOAS?
As most of the problems included in BOAS result from upper airway obstruction, the main initial focus is unblocking the airways. This is most achieved by surgically widening the nares and shortening the soft palate. In most instances, dogs having undergone surgery will be sufficiently and durably improved to never require any additional surgical treatments for their airways. However, a small subset of dogs will deteriorate further with time and require more treatments, especially of their larynx.