What are Stenotic Nares?
Stenotic nares may result in complications for canines who experience limited or obstructed breathing as a result of the narrow openings in the nose. The need to breathe through the mouth and possible intolerance or inability to cope during activity may be seen in a dog with this condition. If the nostrils of your dog are close to closing and your pet’s breathing is labored, seek veterinary advice. Often surgery will be necessary; prognosis can be positive.
Stenotic nares are characterized by a malformation of the alar folds in a dog’s nose, resulting in nostrils that are too small. Stenotic nares are considered to be part of brachycephalic syndrome, found in dogs with short muzzles. Dogs affected are the English Bulldog, Pug, French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Pomeranian, and Boxer.
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Symptoms of Stenotic Nares in Dogs
Dogs with stenotic nares have difficulty breathing when aroused either from stress or excitement. It can be unsettling for a pet owner to manage their dog’s excitement while preventing respiratory distress. It is important to watch for clinical symptoms to know if your pet is in danger.
- Noisy breathing
- Heat intolerance
- Exercise intolerance
- Mouth breathing
Stenotic nares are one component of the brachycephalic syndrome. Other abnormalities include an elongated soft palate and a hypoplastic trachea. The English Bulldog is most commonly affected by all three aspects of the brachycephalic syndrome. Stenotic nares specifically, can vary in degrees to which they block the nasal cavity, the most severe being a small slit and requiring constant mouth breathing from the dog.
Causes of Stenotic Nares in Dogs
- Excess tissue blocks the breathing space
- Airflow resistance results
- Respiratory rate abnormalities can cause secondary complications
- Flat faced breeds can be predisposed
- Palate disorders often accompany the stenotic nares
Diagnosis of Stenotic Nares in Dogs
Stenotic nares can be diagnosed by your veterinarian at a regular examination, which will involve assessing your dog’s breathing rate while inhaling and exhaling The veterinarian may decide to watch your pet during a short stint of exercise, noting his reaction to the activity and the amount of noise that can be heard during the event.
Thoracic x-rays, MRI and CT scan will be ordered in specialized cases where a detailed view is needed; these tests will require that your dog be put under general anesthesia. Brachycephalic dogs have more complications under general anesthesia than other dogs and for this reason, your veterinarian may recommend that any surgeries be done immediately upon discovery of the extent of the abnormality. The severity of your dog’s stenotic nares upon examination can help you and your veterinarian decide if further treatment is warranted.
Treatment of Stenotic Nares in Dogs
In mild cases, your dog can avoid surgery by staying at a healthy weight. Many pets with this condition cannot tolerate heat well due to the difficulty in regulating body temperature (because it is hard for them to pant normally). Brachycephalic dogs should be walked on a body harness to avoid any unnecessary pressure on their neck. These life quality factors, along with secondary complications like tracheal collapse or airflow obstruction, can necessitate a surgical fix.
It is considered best to operate on a young dog because other malformations can develop as they age and cause more complications. Stenotic nares are corrected by removing part of the tissue obstructing the nostril. Other surgeries such as shortening an elongated palate can help the dog breathe easier as well. Because brachycephalic dogs suffer more complications under general anesthesia, often times the surgical removal of nostril tissue is done at the same time as a routine spay or neuter.
Recovery of Stenotic Nares in Dogs
The veterinarian will release your dog from the hospital once he is confident your pet is well enough to function at home. Depending on how long your companion was in the hospital, once home he may have a restricted diet for up to 24 hours. Exercise will be limited to toileting breaks for the first few days. Your veterinarian will advise you when to return for a post operative check up. The prognosis for dogs who undergo surgery to widen the nares of the nose is good, with nice cosmetic appearance and good airflow possible.
Stenotic Nares Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My 4 month old female shihtzu snuffles. She is very small, 5.9 lbs. her snuffling isn't all the time, many times she doesn't at all. She doesn't mouth breath, but she does snore about a third of the time. It was suggested to have nose surgery. But I don't really feel it is necessary. Only on her 3rd vet visit, and by me asking about the snuffing, was it even suggested to look into surgery. What should I do?
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