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What is Chest Bone Deformity?

This deformity almost always shows up in puppies when they are born, and it may get worse or it could fix itself during growth. Your puppy’s chest should form an outward curve, rather than a flat or sunken chest. Chest bone deformity is a deformation of the chest and ribs, which can cause a smaller space for the heart and lungs. This will lead to serious breathing and heart abnormalities, so the deformity should be treated as soon as possible. It the deformation is mild, there is usually no need for treatment of any kind, but you should set an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect your puppy may be suffering from pectus excavatum or pectus carinatum.

A chest bone deformity is a genetic malformation in the chest. There are two types of chest bone deformities: pectus excavatum (funnel chest) is a separation of the sternum and cartilage, thorax narrowing, and unusually shaped ribs causing a flat or sunken chest. Pectus carinatum (pigeon breast) is a chest bone and rib disfigurement causing the chest to bow outwards into a point instead of a curve. Both of these disfigurements can cause serious compression of the lungs and heart.

Chest Bone Deformity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Chest Bone Deformity in Dogs

Symptoms of chest bone deformity depend on whether your puppy has pectus excavatum or pectus carinatum.

Pectus excavatum

  • Narrowing of the chest on one or both sides
  • Flat or sunken chest
  • Panting or heavy breathing due to compressed lungs
  • Coughing
  • Heart murmur
  • Erratic heart rate from compressed heart
  • Blue tint to skin and mucus membrane (cyanosis)
  • Curving of the spine (scoliosis)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Throwing up food and water
  • Losing weight
  • Exhaustion
  • Unable to walk

Pectus carinatum

  • Bump or point on chest
  • Chest that bows outwards
  • Difficulty walking
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Disfigured limbs
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Dental problems
  • Appetite loss
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to exercise
  • Digestion problems
  • Blue tint to skin and mucous membranes (cyanosis)
  • Depression

 Types

Pectus excavatum is a genetic deformity of the chest bone, which causes the narrowing of the ribs and indented or flattened chest. Pectus carinatum describes the congenital deformity of the chest bone causing the breast to bow outwards.

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Causes of Chest Bone Deformity in Dogs

Chest bone deformity is almost always a hereditary disorder, which shows up more often in males rather than females. Both pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum are already present at birth, but may not be visible until your puppy shows symptoms of breathing difficulty and failure to thrive. Pectus excavatum is much more common than pectus carinatum, which is quite rare in puppies. Those that are most affected by these disorders are:

  • Boston Terrier
  • English Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pekingese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
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Diagnosis of Chest Bone Deformity in Dogs

If available, it is helpful to give your veterinary caregiver a complete medical background and history of illnesses of the mother and father of the puppy. The veterinarian will do a complete and comprehensive physical examination on your puppy to determine the extent of the deformity and whether it is causing the symptoms you have described to him. Although your veterinarian can usually tell just by looking at your puppy, he will need to get some tests done for a concrete diagnosis. These tests are:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Packed cell volume
  • Blood gas and chemical panel
  • Glucose analysis
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine specific gravity
  • Digital radiography (x-rays) of the chest and abdomen
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram (EKG)

Some other tests that may be done are an ultrasound to check for heart disorders, a CT scan and MRI to further investigate the chest deformity.

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Treatment of Chest Bone Deformity in Dogs

The treatment that your veterinarian chooses for your puppy depends on which type of chest bone deformity he has and how severe it is. If the deformity is mild and is not compressing any major organs such as the lungs and heart, there is no need for treatment. The veterinarian will just want to monitor your puppy to make sure the lungs and heart do not become compressed as your puppy grows.

Corrective splints can be used if the deformity is not severe enough for surgery. Surgical procedure to remove the deformed part of the chest bone and replacement with a cast made of fiberglass. The cast will be made by fitting it to your puppy’s chest and then attaching it to your puppy’s sternum with sutures. This surgery is relatively new and is usually only done on puppies if they are over three months old and the deformity is severe. 

Physical therapy is usually necessary whether your puppy has surgery or not. This kind of deformity can correct itself as the puppy grows so the veterinarian may suggest you wait and try physical therapy for a few months before getting splints or surgery. Antibiotics and pain medication are usually prescribed if the veterinarian suspects any kind of infection.

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Recovery of Chest Bone Deformity in Dogs

An important part of any treatment is to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and to bring your puppy back for check-ups. If surgery has been done on your pet, providing a quiet place to rest will be an important part of his recovery. As with any medical condition, be sure to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns or feel that your dog is not well.

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Chest Bone Deformity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Chest Bone Deformity Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Pug

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Ten Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

Hello, my dog has pigeon chest and I would like to know what I should do. The vet I took him to said he didn't know if any surgery and that's splints weren't recommended.

July 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Pigeon chest is a congenital abnormality. It usually does not cause any issues until later in life, but if it does, it is recommended to consult with a surgeon. Splints will likely not help. Good luck.

July 13, 2020

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Happy

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dachund

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7 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Sternum And Cough

I have a rescued dapple dachshund. He was in very bad shape when I got him and he has turned into the happiest puppy I have ever seen. Since I've had him he has a lump coming out of his sternum. It feels like it is apart of the bone that maybe just sticks out. I thought that as he put weight on it would go away, but it is still present. He is very active and hops anytime he gets the chance. I have noticed slight coughing that has more recently become more prominent. I have had him for a little over a month now and he was about 6 months old when I got him. Since he was so young could it be that the extreme malnutrition and possible inbreeding could be the cause of the lump? It doesn't seem to hurt him or slow him down at all.

June 2, 2018

Happy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

It isn't uncommon for dogs to have prominent sternums, especially longer breeds of dogs. It might be a good idea to have him examined to make sure the cough isn't anything to worry about, and your veterinarian can look at the lump at the same time and let you know if it is a problem, or normal for Happy.

June 2, 2018

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Maggie

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English Cocker Spaniel

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Enlarged Lymph Nodes
Heart
Hearing Problem

I have noticed the right side bone is bent inside exactly above the heart, and recently she was diagnosed with enlarge heart which extend up to 5 ribs. Is it due to chest deformation? Please advice and what can we do as diagnosis. Regards, Ravi

April 28, 2018

Maggie's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Normally deformities of the chest whether it be the ribs or the sternum are usually palpable and are visible easily on x-rays; if you think that there is a deformity you should consult your Veterinarian for an examination and possibly have some x-rays done (will also show heart enlargement too) to assess the severity. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 29, 2018

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Ted

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Shih Tzu

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9 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy Deep Breathing

I brought a male shih tzu just over a week ago he is nearly 10 weeks old took him to the vet for injections few days ago upon examination she told me he has pectus excavatum? I asked her what could be done but she didn't seem very positive..... He is eating well and playing well.... When asleep his breathing does seem a bit deep but I don't know if she's just made me paranoid.... I have booked in with another vet for a few days time..... For a second opinion.... I'm so worried at what could happen in the mean time :(

March 3, 2018

Ted's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Conditions like pectus excavatum can vary in severity with some cases being mild (resolving themselves as a dog grows) to others being more serious (requiring surgery); without examining Ted I cannot give you any indication of the overall severity. A second opinion with another Veterinarian is a good idea to get another point of view, an x-ray may be useful to assess the condition and to track progress over the months. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 3, 2018

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Mantis

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French Bulldog

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5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Mass

This evening, my boyfriend was sitting with our dog and noticed a lump towards the bottoms of his rib cage on his chest. It's soft, and doesn't seem to be causing him any pain or effecting his breathing. I didn't notice it until he told me so not sure how long it has been there. He had surgery for a broken right hind leg last week, so we don't know if it is relates to that or an independent issue. We have a follow up on Friday. Is it safe to wait until then for the vet to look at it or should we take him sooner?

Dec. 17, 2017

Mantis' Owner

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0 Recommendations

If Mantis is in no pain and the lump is not causing any problem I would just keep a close eye on it for now; sometimes lumps may appear due to inflammation of fat, some fluid accumulation among other benign causes. Obviously if the lump grows in size, becomes painful, Mantis has trouble breathing or any other symptoms visit your Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 17, 2017

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Frenchie puppies

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French Bulldog

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4 Weeks

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Inverted Chest

I am a breeder of french bulldogs and we recently had a litter where 2 of our male pups have inverted chest. One is more severe than the other with one being slightly indented and the other feeling more like there is a deeper hole in the center of the ribs. The pups are 3 weeks old, almost 4. We suspect that it is the breeder male that has the deformity somewhere in his genetics. The male himself has a completely normal chest as do the mothers. This is the second litter weve had where one or more pups have had this problem. We dont want to continue a genetic line that is very prone to this deformity. Should we consider getting another male? Or would you believe that it would more than likely be the mothers carrying this gene?

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Lady Bella Rose

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Basset Hound

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8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Fast Breathing

I recently rescued a Basset Hound and I've noticed her ribs narrow on the sides then come to like a point. Is this normal in this breed? I notice that she breaths fast when shes asleep. I've never had a hound dog before and I'm trying to learn as much as I can about her breed.

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cilla

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French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

10 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Unusual Breathing
Pointed Breast Narrow Ribs
Sneezing And Panting
Pigeon Chest

i have a 10 week frenchy and noticed that her chest bones sticks out very badly almost to a pointy shape and her ribs are very narrow. she pants quite alot especially when playing and when shes warm from snuggling in. shes start sneezing when shes napping and spraying very small amounts of fluid when doing so. ive noticed when breathing she inhales a very small breath but seems to have a bigger exhale if that makes any sense. when she is warm sleeping she tilts her head right back and pants quite alot which made me think she felt like she was smuthered which got me a little worried.. she is the smallest of the litter and is skinny and boney but not under weight. overall she eats well, drinks well even plays well and naps alot after her play time which describes a normal playful puppy to me but her chest and rib cage looks very dramatic how it sticks out.. when visiting vets they had never seen this before in dogs only in cats but not as dramatic as cillas. vet explained that cilla seems to be breathing from bottom half of abdomen rather than the top and explained that her deformity may have affected her diapgram or even a part of her spine but as i stated before she seems to be a normal puppy putting aside how her chest/breathing is and she walks and runs normal. i am very worried about cilla with vet not seeing this condition before and with her telling me what else her condition could have affected. vet explained when i return next week she will have a plan of action after she does her research on what she found after examning cilla.. hope i can find out a bit more information here to what i received from my vets to put my mind at ease as im automatically thinking the worst. thanks

Chest Bone Deformity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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