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Anesthesia on Flat-Faced Dogs

Ensuring your pet is safe for surgery.

Many brachycephalic (“short-faced”) breeds have airway issues, which is secondary to indiscriminate breeding practices. The surgical risks are moderate—on rare occasions, a patient needs overnight “babysitting” after surgery in order to receive a little more oxygen and monitoring. We are confident that the benefits of surgery far outweigh the risks of anesthesia. 

Our patients usually wake up from surgery “instantaneously” breathing better!

We have discovered a number of “tricks” that allow us to safely anesthetize brachycephalic breeds: 

  • All patients have a set of chest x-rays taken pre-op in order to determine if they also have hypoplastic trachea, and also to confirm that they do not currently have evidence of aspiration pneumonia, esophagitis/megaesophagus, or bronchitis.
  • Pre-operatively, all patients are given two different anti-nausea medications, an antacid, and a prokinetic drug (metoclopramide) to decrease the chances of regurgitation.
  • Palate surgery patients are given a steroid as an anti-inflammatory which decreases swelling at the surgery site.
  • We use dental nerve blocks which block pain to the nares surgery sites and we use pre-and post-surgery cold laser therapy (photobiomodulation) to block pain and inflammation and regenerate collagen.
  • We pre and post-oxygenate each patient which really helps with anesthesia and recovery. 
  • We use an increased fluid flow rate during anesthesia to compensate for the fact that most of our chronically regurgitating patients arrive dehydrated.

We have an assigned nurse attached to each patient until the patient goes home. Every patient is checked on with phone calls and emails as needed until the patient has reached a status of full recovery.

If a patient needs overnight observation or develops any issues post-operatively, we recommend VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Lawndale for patients who live nearby. If you live further away, as many of our patients do, please know where your closest ER is located.

We always send home pain medications and relaxation medications (anxiolytics).

Confirmation of the status of the palate and the possibility of everted laryngeal saccules can only be verified at the time that the patient is put under anesthesia—only then can a complete pharyngeal/laryngeal exam be performed. The surgeon will call the owner at this time to discuss the surgical plan before moving forward. Before and after photos of the surgery will be texted to the owner as the patient is waking up.

Why Should I Have This Surgery Performed on My Pet?

Our brachycephalic patients benefit greatly from airway corrective surgeries. Our clients tell us that their pets improve 25% to 100% after surgery. Some “brachy” issues cannot be corrected surgically, so they may still snore, they may still not be as athletic as some breeds, they may still occasionally regurgitate, and they may still be heat stroke risks to some degree. Some of the congenital issues that we cannot surgically repair include hypoplastic trachea and “folded” or tortuous nasal turbinates. That being said, opening up the nostrils, excising everted laryngeal saccules (if present), and resecting excess palate tissue offers a dramatic beneficial quality of life improvement for most affected brachycephalic individuals. 

Call us at (310) 376-0072 today to schedule your pet's surgery.

Anesthesia on Flat-Faced Dogs

Family Pet Clinic of Redondo Beach