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Naomi from BooBerrit had noticed Baloo’s breathing for some time. Snoring? Sure, but is it still called snoring when they’re awake?
Pugs, along with the ever-popular French bulldog and Shih-Tzus, are a brachycephalic breed of dog – this means they have relatively flat faces with short snouts.
Like all dogs, pugs evolved from wolves. To quote Red Riding Hood: “what a long nose [wolves] have!” Think of that long snout smushed into the diminutive skull of a pug. There’s a lot of stuff, including the all-important soft palate and nasal passages, crammed into a much smaller space. This may make pugs look “cute” but it presents challenges for airflow. And when it comes to breathing – airflow is sort of what it’s all about.
Naomi tried to convince herself it was normal. Baloo loves to run around the park like the other dogs, and hasn’t keeled over yet… So, no worries, right? Certainly not worth bothering a vet with. He’s a pug, her friends (avid Baloo fans!) would tell her, what do you expect?
As a result of their breeding, pugs also have very small nostrils (stenotic nares to use the proper term), which further complicates that act the rest of us take for granted… breathing! Think about how it feels when you have a heavy cold – pretty tough to get any air through there. This is the permanent experience of a pug, unless…
The idea of loading the kids into their car seats, and taking up a rare day off to go into the vet clinic just to be told there was nothing to be done didn’t seem like a viable option. Then, brain wave! Google it. Naomi found plenty of websites telling her why she should never have picked a pug, which seemed a little harsh given she was a rescue-pup. Others told her to ignore the haters #hatersgonnahate. And there seemed to be a lot of contradictory advice from people with “likes” and “followers” galore but no discernible qualifications. There has to be a reason vets do five years at vet school, or is it six?
The range of issues Naomi noticed in Baloo is known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). It’s not “normal” and it can be treated. A specialist veterinary surgeon can work to unblock the airways, for example, by widening the nostrils and shortening the soft palate. Almost all brachycephalic dogs find breathing easier after the surgery – helping dogs like Baloo to live happier, healthier lives.