Bulldogs Stenotic Nares is only one manifestation of a bulldog airway condition which falls under “flat face” (brachycephalic syndrome). Others include Elongated Soft Palate, Everted Laryngeal Saccules, hypoplastic trachea, and other secondary issues such as excessively Swollen Obstructive Tonsil and larynegeal cartliages atrophy.
Stenotic Nares in bulldogs is defined as narrowed nostrils. This narrowing causes a restriction in the amount of air that can flow into the nostrils. The diagnosis of stenotic nares is usually made during the physical exam via a visual inspection. Stenotic Nares can, and should be surgically corrected in order to allow improved airflow through the nostrils. The procedure is performed by removing a wedge-shape piece of each nostril.
Stenotic Nares is more common in French bulldogs puppies then other bulldogs breeds. French Bulldog puppies with a mild case of stenotic nares will exhibit noisy breathing, especially with excitement, exercise, and stressful conditions, all of which increase the demand for oxygen. Most will snort when excited and snore when relaxed or asleep. Severely affected bulldogs will exhibit more pronounced airway noise, appear to tire easily with exercise, and may even collapse or faint after exercise. Symptoms can also include coughing, gagging, retching and vomiting.
When it comes to brachycephalic airway syndrome, weight control is instrumental in proper bulldog care. Bulldogs with mild stenotic nares symptoms will often show improvement with controlled exercise practiced in combination with avoidance of hot or humid conditions and stress. For short term relief of airway inflammation or respiratory distress, anti-inflammatory medications, tranquilizers, cooling down and oxygen therapy can be helpful. It’s important to note, however, that medical management of this condition does not correct the underlying anatomical abnormalities, but merely lessens the symptoms. Surgery is the treatment of choice for french bulldog and other bulldogs with stenotic nares, whenever the anatomic abnormalities interfere with the patient’s breathing.
There is an abundance of research and strong clinical evidence that suggests that stenotic nares alone are likely to lead, to some degree, to the list of medical problems associated with the “Brachycephalic Syndrome”. Thus, the earlier the nares are corrected, the better. Nares left untreated for a long period of time can lead to serious health problems. In addition, early correction of stenotic nares and elongated soft palate will significantly improve airway function and should prevent development of everted laryngeal saccules and other secondary airflow restrictive problems. The overall prognosis for patients depends upon how many anatomic abnormalities are present, and how soon they are corrected.
Due to the seriousness of bulldogs brachycephalic syndrome and the urgency of early intervention, I always discuss the syndrome during your bulldog very first visit, hopefully when your bulldog puppy is only a few weeks or months old. I will offer a vocal demonstration of the stridor/Stertor (breathing noise associated with the condition) and provide handouts with text and photos. For a definitive diagnosis of an elongated palate, everted saccules and other laryngeal abnormalities direct visualization of those structures would be necessary. This has to be done under some form of sedation in order to allow the insertion of a laryngoscope. The diagnoses of stenotic nares in french bulldogs is usually made during the physical exam via a visual inspection and Hypoplastic trachea is diagnosed based on radiographic findings.
The overall prognosis for english bulldogs, french bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds and puppies depends upon how many anatomic abnormalities are present at the time of diagnosis and how soon they were corrected.