Breathing Easy: Exploring BOAS Surgery in Brachycephalic Dogs

by | Feb 27, 2024

BOAS surgeryBrachycephalic dog breeds, characterised by their short muzzles and flattened faces, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and French Bulldogs, have surged in popularity in recent years. While these breeds often capture hearts with their adorable looks and charming personalities, they are also prone to a range of health issues, including brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). BOAS can severely impact a dog’s quality of life, leading many owners to seek solutions such as surgical intervention. Here’s what you need to know about BOAS surgery and its role in improving the well-being of brachycephalic dogs:

Understanding BOAS:

BOAS is a complex condition resulting from anatomical abnormalities in the upper airway, including narrowed nostrils (stenotic nares), an elongated soft palate, and a hypoplastic trachea. These abnormalities restrict airflow, making it difficult for affected dogs to breathe properly, especially during exercise or in hot weather. Symptoms of BOAS can range from snorting, snoring, and excessive panting to more severe signs such as exercise intolerance, collapse, and respiratory distress.

The Role of Surgery:

Surgical intervention is often recommended for brachycephalic dogs with moderate to severe BOAS that do not respond adequately to conservative management, such as weight management, environmental modifications, and medical therapy. The primary goals of BOAS surgery are to alleviate airway obstruction, improve airflow, and enhance the overall quality of life for affected dogs.

Types of BOAS Surgery:

1. Nasal Surgery: Stenotic nares, or narrowed nostrils, can be surgically corrected by removing a wedge-shaped section of tissue to widen the nasal openings, allowing for improved airflow.

2. Soft Palate Resection: An elongated soft palate, a common feature in brachycephalic breeds, can obstruct the airway, leading to breathing difficulties. Soft palate resection involves trimming and repositioning the excess tissue to shorten the palate and reduce airway obstruction.

3. Tracheal Surgery: In some cases, brachycephalic dogs may also have a hypoplastic or narrowed trachea, exacerbating respiratory issues. Tracheal surgery may be performed to widen the tracheal lumen and improve airflow.

Benefits of BOAS Surgery:

– Improved Breathing: By addressing anatomical abnormalities that contribute to airway obstruction, BOAS surgery can significantly improve a dog’s ability to breathe comfortably and efficiently.

– Enhanced Quality of Life: Dogs that undergo successful BOAS surgery often experience reduced respiratory symptoms, increased exercise tolerance, and overall improvement in their well-being.

– Long-term Health: BOAS surgery can help prevent or mitigate secondary health issues associated with chronic airway obstruction, such as heat intolerance, respiratory infections, and cardiac strain

Considerations for Owners:

While BOAS surgery can offer significant benefits for brachycephalic dogs, it’s essential for owners to understand that surgery carries inherent risks, and not all dogs may be suitable candidates. Pre-operative evaluation, including thorough clinical assessment, diagnostic imaging, and consultation with a veterinary surgeon, is crucial to determine the appropriateness of surgery for individual patients.


BOAS surgery plays a vital role in improving the quality of life for brachycephalic dogs affected by airway obstruction. By addressing anatomical abnormalities and restoring normal airflow, surgery can help alleviate respiratory symptoms and enhance overall well-being, allowing these beloved companions to lead happier, healthier lives.

If you suspect your brachycephalic dog may be suffering from BOAS, consult with your veterinarian to discuss diagnostic and treatment options, including the possibility of surgical intervention. With proper care and intervention, brachycephalic dogs can thrive and continue to bring joy to their families for years to come.

Make an Appointment

Call Our Friendly Staff

Is Your Pet’s Smile Healthy? Let’s Talk Dental Disease in Pets!

Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common health issues in cats and dogs? Over 80% of pets over the age of three have some form of dental disease, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Why It Matters: Dental disease doesn't just...

Bravery Award June 2024 – Ruby the Cavoodle

Ruby the fourteen-year-old Cavoodle visited the Berwick clinic a couple of months ago for some vomiting and inappetence.  After some initial bloodwork was performed, it was clear due to her elevated hepatic markers that she was suffering from kidney disease and based...

Bravery Award May 2024 – Thomas the Pomeranian

Thomas, the twelve-year-old Pomeranian was a little too forward one morning and rushed to greet a passing dog who was walking down the footpath outside his house.  Unfortunately for Thomas, he didn’t realise quick enough that his new “friend” didn’t appreciate the...

Bravery Award April 2024 – Simba the Labrador

Simba, the nearly four-year-old golden Labrador nearly didn’t make it to Christmas last year after having to receive TWO exploratory laparotomies in the space of a week.  The first was to remove the sock he decided was a very tasty snack, the second was required as he...

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Understanding the Condition and Breeds at Risk

Hip dysplasia is a debilitating orthopaedic condition that can affect dogs of various breeds and sizes. Characterised by an abnormal formation of the hip joint, hip dysplasia can cause pain, lameness, and reduced mobility in affected dogs. While all dogs can...

Understanding PennHIP: A Revolutionary Approach to Evaluating Canine Hip Health

Among the numerous health issues that can affect dogs, hip dysplasia ranks among the most prevalent and debilitating. However, thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, particularly the development of techniques like PennHIP, there's hope for better diagnosis and...

Beware the Fungus Among Us: Mushroom Toxicity in Pets

Mushrooms, with their diverse shapes and colours, can be an enchanting sight in nature. However, not all mushrooms are harmless, and some can pose serious risks to our furry companions. While many pet owners are vigilant about potential hazards in their homes and...

Bravery Award – March 2024 – Danger the Tonkinese

Danger, the two-year-old Tonkinese was hanging out in his front garden a few weeks ago when he took a shine to the neighbour’s cat and went next door for a visit.  Expecting him back shortly (as he wasn’t one to wander far), his owners became increasingly concerned...

Easter Pet Safety: Ensuring a Hoppy Holiday for Your Furry Friends

As Easter approaches, households around the world prepare for festivities filled with colourful eggs, delicious treats, and joyful celebrations. While Easter is a time for families to come together, it's essential to remember that some of the traditions associated...

Bravery Award – February 2024 – Rivva the Kelpie

Rivva, the four-year-old red kelpie presented to us this month, collapsed, pale, breathing rapidly and with a racing heart rate.  She was rushed through for immediate hospitalization and treatment with Dr. Tracy.  As investigations began and bloodwork was performed,...