Big Bear Award – Ralph

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

The heat of summer conjures many positive thoughts: beach days, picnics in the park and barbecues with friends. The long days of sunshine keep us outside for long times but it is also a time of year with a silent killer: heat stroke. This is something many people are aware of, particularly when it comes to leaving dogs in the car on hot days. Unfortunately, for a group of breeds called “brachycephalics”, the anatomy of their face means they are not able to breathe as effectively as other dogs. The term “brachycephalic” means that the bones around the mouth have been shrunk but the flesh around it hasn’t shrunk, preventing the airways from being fully open and allowing enough oxygen to be absorbed and for the dog to cool itself. It causes a condition called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome or BOAS. Remember, dogs only have sweat glands on their paws so rely on breathing to regulate their temperatures! Breeds like these include pugs, English bulldogs, Shih Tzus and French Bulldogs.

These dogs are known to be loving companions and ensuring they remain as healthy as possible with coping mechanisms for warm weather is essential. Management strategies can include taking out at cooler times of the day, ensuring there is lots of drinking and exercise little and often. Unfortunately, with age, some of these problems can become more pronounced so managing the lifestyle isn’t quite enough.

At Vet4Life, we offer surgery for those cases where lifestyle management isn’t the most effective option. BOAS surgery involves removing the excess bits of flesh around the nose and throat to allow better airflow and reduce the issues associated with inefficient breathing.

Ralph’s story

Ralph pre-surgery

Ralph is a 2 year old French Bulldog who presented to us as a puppy for his first vaccination. In June 2019, he had a consultation for BOAS surgery with our clinical director, Vanessa. The big day came in January this year and after a successful surgery, Vanessa managed to open his nostrils and remove the excess flesh at the back of his throat. Aftercare involved giving paracetamol, a very effective pain relief medication to ensure no discomfort for Ralph. He had a great recovery and his owner very happily shared some thoughts on the process:

“We, fortunately, spent months researching French Bulldogs prior to adding Ralph to the family so we were relatively well educated and prepared in terms of what to expect. Ralph had struggled in his first summer and was commonly out of breath and panting due to the heat even though we were very careful during hot days ensuring we’d only walk him in shady areas either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Having consulted with Vet4Life and being aware of the procedure prior to getting Ralph, the vets advised that it might be a good time and a good age to have the operation. I can’t express how impressed we were with everything from the initial advice through to the procedure and aftercare. We were advised with all details at very early stages and agreed that it would be good to get the operation out of the way whilst Ralph was still young and during the cooler months, giving him the best chance of a complication free procedure and a speedy recovery. On the run up to the op we could consult with the team at any point and afterwards, regular check ups were scheduled to ensure his recovery was as good as possible.

Since Ralph has only just recovered, we won’t see the full success of the op until the temperature warms up but we have noticed his breathing is generally quieter and struggle to locate him by his grunts and groans anymore which is a refreshing change. Visibly, we can’t notice much difference as you can see in the pictures but hopefully come summer we’ll see an improvement. His snoring has got a little louder (if that’s physically possible!) but we feel that is more likely to be because he can draw more air in through his airways with each breath.

Ralph post-surgery

We’re very pleased with how everything went and how well we were looked after throughout and would highly recommend the procedure to any Frenchies or short-snouted (brachycephalic) breeds.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say how happy we are with the Family Plan. We pay a small amount each month for the Family Plan and the value has been outstanding! To have peace of mind that professionals are at hand at any time to consult about our little man is fab and we’d recommend it to anyone who cares as much about their furry family member as we do.

Please do keep up the phenomenal work guys and we’ll no doubt see you soon!”

Research is key before finding the suitable breed for you! If you decide a brachycephalic dog is suitable for you, try and opt for those with the least squashed facial features and be ready with those key lifestyle management tools to ensure a happy and healthy life.

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