Some dogs are purposely bred to have cute, short noses. Breeds like Bulldog, Shih-Tzu, Pug, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog and the like, are becoming increasingly popular according to the American Kennel Club list of popular breeds. Most owners of these dogs know that they often have loud breathing and they tend to snore. A lot! What many owners don’t know, however, is that this is neither “normal” nor cute but in fact represents a serious health hazard for these dogs.
A recent survey of owners of brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds in the UK revealed that almost two thirds of owners were not aware that their dogs breathing difficulties were serious or even life-threatening. The conclusion of the survey was that these owners “…are unknowingly putting their pets’ welfare at risk and not seeking essential treatment because they consider their pets’ signs of breathing difficulties to be “normal” for that breed”.
As a veterinarian I am stunned by my profession’s apparent failure to educate dog owners of the seriousness of this condition. Dogs with short noses frequently suffer from a combination of various anatomic defects or distortions, like narrow nostrils, long upper palate, small wind pipe, and more. They spend their entire life working hard to get some air through a very narrow passageway, not unlike trying to drink a pint through a small straw. They are at a constant risk of collapse or fainting with even mild physical activity due to lack of oxygen. Their snoring, which many owners learn to accept as normal, affects their quality of life as it interferes with sleeping. A study of Bulldogs in a sleep laboratory found that almost all of them suffer from some degree of sleep disturbance, called sleep apnea, which may cause them to wake up hundreds of times in the course of one night.
The disturbing disparity between dog owners perception and the true medical condition of their pet underscores the revolution in health monitoring heralded by the PetPace system. The patented smart collar developed by PetPace monitors, among other parameters, a dog’s breathing quality. Respiratory difficulties, increased breathing efforts or excessive snoring will be picked up by the tiny sensors fitted on the PetPace collar and then automatically transmitted to the system’s analytical engine via the internet. Alerts sent to the owners and their veterinarians in real-time will ensure that this serious disease will not be ignored but will receive proper attention before medical emergency develops.
Dr. Asaf Dagan, DVM, DABVP, CVA, LLB
Chief Veterinary Scientist