Caring for a Brachycephalic Pet

Do you have a brachycephalic dog or cat? Several of our canine companions are brachycephalic. These include the Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles, English Mastiff, Pekinese, Pug, and Shih Tzu. As for kitties, the Persian, Himalayan, and Burmese are most likely to be brachys. A local vet discusses caring for a brachy below.

Health Issues

Brachys are adorable, but, as you may know, those cute flat faces come with a price. Brachys often have a hard time getting enough airflow through their nasal passages. This can be quite dangerous, as your pet can easily get out of breath, sometimes after just mild exertion.


Some brachys will benefit from surgery. There are procedures that can correct two of the common issues caused by brachycephaly: elongated soft palate and malformed nostrils. These problems often lead to snoring, gagging, coughing, trouble eating, and vomiting. Of course, every pet is different, so this is not an across-the-board recommendation. Ask your veterinarian for more information.


You’ll need to use a harness, rather than a collar. It’s much too easy for collars to cut off your furry friend’s airflow. This can happen with any dog, but it’s extremely common—and dangerous—for brachys.


Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Fido and Fluffy are already short of breath: if they are overweight, they’ll be panting after even mild activity. Obesity will make it even harder for your pet to get the activity they need. 


Overheating is dangerous for any pet, but it’s especially concerning with brachys. Fluffy and Fido can’t sweat, and they won’t be able to cool themselves by panting as efficiently as other dogs and cats can. This means that they can get into serious trouble very quickly in hot weather. First and foremost, make sure they always have fresh water. It’s also best to keep your furry pal safe and sound indoors when it’s really hot out, in rooms cooled by fans and/or AC. Fido shouldn’t swim, but he may enjoy wading in a kiddy pool, or playing in the spray from a hose or sprinkler. Your furry buddy may also appreciate a cold treat.


Many brachys have skin folds. These can collect bacteria, so you’ll need to keep your pet’s skin clean. Follow your vet’s instructions.

Do you have questions or concerns about brachys? Contact us, your veterinary clinic!

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