Soft Palate and Snoring Problems

Short nosed dog breeds (brachycephalics) including the English Bulldog, the Pug, French Bulldog and the Boston Terrier. All have anatomical features that make breathing more difficult for them. They tend to make a lot of noises, like snoring, when they breathe and they can struggle to move air when they are exercising. 

Many of these dogs will have closed down nostrils (nares) and they need to be opened surgically for the dog to breathe properly through the nose. This condition is called stenotic nares. The treatment for stenotic nares is to surgically remove some of the tissue in the nostril that is blocking air flow. At Animal Hospital of Montgomery, we use the CO2 surgical laser to ablate much of this tissue with reduced bleeding and almost no post operative swelling. Another important condition found in these breeds is a condition is called elongated soft palate. The soft palate is a curtain of loose mucous membrane that hangs down in the back of the throat. In people, this is called the uvula. In dogs this tissue forms a long band of tissue that can cover the opening of the upper airway that leads into the lungs (the epiglottis). When the dog tries to take in a breath, the tissue covers the airway and vibrates resulting in snoring. To see a Youtube video of this condition, cut and paste into your browser this URL.

 Treatment of elongated soft palate is surgical. The loose tissue covering the epiglottis is trimmed so that there is room for air to flow. Traditionally, this is a very bloody surgery and requires antiinflammatory medication to be given prior to the surgery to prevent swelling at the back of the throat during healing. The dogs have a sore throat and this surgery requires stitches to be placed to control the bleeding. They can cause discomfort. At Animal Hospital of Montgomery, we use the CO2 surgical laser to make a cut across the soft palate to remove the excessive tissue. There is very little swelling after this laser procedure and no sutures are required. To see a Youtube video of a patient that has had this surgery, cut and paste into your browser this URL. 

Some dogs will also have been sucking so much air down into the pharyngeal area that they can evert their saccules, which look like a fleshy bulge from either side of the trachea into the airway. These can also be removed using the CO2 laser. There is hope for the snoring dogs that are having trouble breathing.

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