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Health Concerns for Flat-Faced Dogs

Health Concerns for Flat-Faced Dogs

Flat-faced dogs may be cute, but can have certain health issues.

Dogs are truly a man’s best friend, and luckily for all, they come in all shapes and sizes. Every breed has a beauty of its own, and every dog a personality. With some species, people can’t help but love their characteristics. It couldn’t be more true for flat-faced dogs such as Boston terriers, pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Pekingese, among others. As much as we love these types of pet dogs, however, these breeds, known as brachycephalic breeds, come with some potential health concerns.

Brachycephalic Characteristics

Brachycephalic breeds come with more physical characteristics than just a flat face. Common characteristics include the following:

  • Short muzzle
  • Pushed-in nose
  • Shortened skull
  • Shallow eye sockets, or bulging eyes
  • Compressed upper jaw

These physical conditions, while producing their characteristic look many love, do have the potential to cause health problems for the animal in the future. 

Symptoms of Health Issues

Likely, the vet will tell you what to look out for and how best to watch over your pet on the first visit. The symptoms your vet may go over include:

  • Inefficient panting
  • Breathlessness
  • Labored or noisy breathing
  • Difficulty breathing after short exercise
  • Snorting
  • Choking
  • Snoring
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Overheating
  • Decreased stamina
  • Preferring to sleep on its back
  • Sleeping problems
  • Obesity
  • Irritated eyes
  • Eyelid curling
  • Teeth crowding
  • Skin problems
  • Fainting

Signs can begin to show early on in its life and could be a lifetime problem for your pet. These issues could lead to internal problems like gastrointestinal or heart issues.

Health Conditions to Monitor

Dog owners should always be aware of a specific set of problems that could arise from brachycephalic dogs. Any kind of breathing issue could be categorized as Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BOAS.) Meanwhile, one should watch for trouble swallowing, skin infections from folded skin, sleeping problems, eye irritation, dental and gum issues, and the risk of heatstroke. 


Take your pet to the vet should any of these conditions arise. Your vet will be able to give a thorough diagnosis of your pet’s health and uncover any issues that might not have been apparent already. Sedation is the best way to perform the diagnosis, but bloodwork may be necessary to confirm how your pet will handle anesthesia.


Surgery can effectively treat flat-faced dogs that have significant or life-threatening breathing issues. Milder symptoms may go without surgery and adaptive care, like avoiding intense heat, humidity, and exercise. Be sure to clean your dog’s teeth well, put it on a healthy, enzyme-rich diet, wash its face folds thoroughly with a yeast-killing solution, and provide adequate exercise.

Trust the Care of Your Pet to the Professionals at Everhart Veterinary Medicine!

At Everhart Veterinary Medicine, our veterinary professionals strive to provide your pet with the very best of veterinary care. We believe that the best care for your pet should be provided by experienced, compassionate, and knowledgeable veterinary professionals. With two Maryland locations in both Baltimore and Pasadena, we are always ready to welcome your pet as a new patient! Give us a call today at 410-355-3131 or 410-793-7670! For more information, as well as updates on veterinary news and topics, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 at 9:25 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.