What is BOAS?
BOAS simply means ‘problems breathing due to having a short-head’, and sadly, is a result of selective breeding. BOAS commonly affects flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese, French Bulldog, British Bull dog, and Shih Tzu. Flat-faced breeds have become popular pets because of their ‘cute’ appearance and good nature – their snuffly breathing often considered loveable. Sadly, in reality, these ‘loveable snuffles’ are a sign that they are struggling to breathe due to BOAS.
BOAS is a combination of the following problems:
- Narrow nostrils
- Crowded nose and throat
- Overlong soft palate
- Narrow windpipe
Having narrow nostrils makes breathing difficult; some severely affected dogs have to pant to get enough air.
Crowded nose and throat
Flat-faced dogs have a lot of nose tissue packed into a small space, which means they have to breathe through very narrow, crowded nasal passages.
Overlong soft palate
Flat-faced dogs often have a large soft palate that sits further back than normal. It often covers the windpipe, which makes breathing difficult.
The soft palate can also cause problems during sleep – if it’s covering the windpipe you may notice your dog snoring or waking up suddenly gasping for breath.
A narrow windpipe makes breathing difficult, especially when exercising. Breathing through a narrow windpipe is a bit like trying to breathe through a drinking straw. There are also two sacs inside the windpipe that often become enlarged and cause further problems.