Veterinarians have their own language. This blog series will introduce you to some of the unique words and phrases veterinarians use. You’ll learn what the words mean, when to use them and how to pronounce them so that you can “Talk Like a Vet” yourself.
Have you ever seen a dog with a face like the one in this picture? Well, veterinarians call dogs like this brachiocephalic (pronouce brachiocephalic). It means short and wide-headed. You'll find this type of face in Boston terriers, Pekingese dogs, English bulldogs, Pugs and French bulldogs.
Veterinarians didn’t give these dog breeds a special name just to make fun of them. When these types of dogs come into an exam room, veterinarians pay close attention. This is because dogs with these shorten faces often have trouble breathing. The shortened faces often mean that the dogs have narrowed air passages limiting their ability to breath. In fact, recent studies have shown that these dogs can also can have problems in their lungs.
So veterinarians will do a close exam to see how hard it is for these brachiocephalic patients to breathe. Do they breathe with their mouth open? Do they snore at night? Do they pant all the time? Is the breathing rapid or noisy? Are they in distress? If the condition poses a risk to the patient, then the veterinarian will look at what can be done to keep the dog safe.
The most common reasons for troubled breathing in these types of dogs are collapsed nostrils (called stenotic nares) and a condition where the roof of the mouth is too long (called elongated soft palate). Both of these conditions can be corrected by surgery.
Even if surgery is not necessary, veterinarians always warn brachiocephalic dog owners to be careful. These owners must pay attention to their dogs and watch for any situations, like exercise or walks, where their pet has increased difficulty breathing.
Now that you can talk like a vet, I hope you will watch out for our brachiocephalic friends as well.