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Published: Jan 10, 2012

When a cat or a dog has a nose that appears to be "pushed in," or brachycephalic, they may suffer from breathing problems. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, brachycephalic animals have shorter skull bones than others, which affects the anatomy of their airways and can cause health issues, known as the Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs or Cats.  This disorder is caused by upper airway abnormalities, such as elongated soft palates, stenotic or pinched nostrils, and problems with pouches around the voicebox (called everted laryngeal saccules) and small or underdeveloped tracheas.  One or many of these abnormalities may occur together and make it difficult for a cat or dog to breathe.

In many instances, cats afflicted with brachycephalic airway syndrome have trouble breathing through their noses, VCA reports. If you notice that your feline companion is breathing through its mouth, you should have your veterinarian examine your pet. Both dogs and cats affected by the Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome often sound congested or snore loudly when they sleep.  They often snort or make loud noises when they are excited or are exercising.  They may be intolerant of activity because of the restrictions to their breathing.

It is crucial to keep affected animals lean—obesity can severely aggravate the signs of the Brachycephaic Airway Syndrome.  Surgery may be necessary in some animals especially if the airways are obstructed enough that cat illness or pet discomfort is a constant worry. The amount and severity of abnormalities plays a major role in how serious the effects are, but owners of brachycephalic animals should play it safe and have a vet check out their furry friends to make sure they are healthy and happy.