Respiratory Distress in a Dog: Peanut’s Breathing Trouble and Collapse

The reasons your dog might have a hard time breathing include obstructions of the airways, infections, inflammatory conditions, lung, or heart disease.

Because of their anatomy, brachycephalic breeds, such as Pugs, are particularly susceptible to breathing problems. In severe cases, dogs might need surgery to allow them to breathe.

It always breaks my heart to see one of these dogs in the dog park, trying to play and have fun. Their breathing is loud and sounds as if they were snorting the entire time. You can hear that they are having a hard time moving air in and out of their lungs.

Respiratory Distress in a Dog: Peanut's Breathing Trouble and Collapse

Peanut’s story

As one of the breeds bred for their looks rather than health, Pugs pay the price for their popularity. Their breathing passages are barely able to function which makes them susceptible to respiratory distress. The condition is referred to as brachycephalic syndrome and it is what’s behind the noisy breathing when the dog gets excited or active.

In some cases, their breathing can become so laborious that the dog might collapse from lack of oxygen.

The first incident

Peanut was only eleven months old when he had his first episode of struggling for breath. He was playing and suddenly couldn’t catch his breath. That scared him into a panic, making things worse. Eventually, Peanut collapsed and lost consciousness.

As soon as Peanut came back to, his dad rushed him to a veterinarian and Peanut was referred for surgery.

Thorough examination revealed that Peanut was born with a nasty combo of deformities in his respiratory tract. His windpipe was too narrow, and his nostrils didn’t allow enough air through.

Peanut’s surgery

The surgeon widened Peanut’s nostrils and did his best to fix the back of his throat. The surgery went well but the improvements weren’t meant to last.

A year later, Peanut started having a hard time breathing again, resulting in a collapse.

Peanut’s tracheostomy

Tracheostomy is a surgical procedure that facilitates breathing by bypassing the nose and mouth altogether. Remember The Smoking Man in the last episodes of the X-Files? Simply put, the dog will breather through an opening in their neck—stoma.

Caring for Peanut

The surgery was successful but Peanut needs special care.

His dad has to clean his breathing hole every hour so that it wouldn’t get blocked by mucus. Peanut can only eat mashed food. He is not allowed to swim or have a bath so he wouldn’t drown from water rushing in through his stoma. He also has to stay away from sand, long grass, or anything that could make its way where it’s not supposed to. Anything that would enter the breathing hole would make its way directly into Peanut’s lungs.

However, Peanut is feeling great and loves to play, no longer having breathing difficulties. The strict rules are a fair trade of for him to be able to live an active, energetic life and never having to struggle to breathe.

In closing

Next time you gush over the adorable looks of dogs such as the Pugs, do think about how much that cost them. While not every brachycephalic dog is a severe case like Peanut, their breathing is always harder than for other breeds, affecting their quality of life and putting them in risk of medical complications.

Source story:
Peanut the Pug Needed a Tracheostomy

Related articles:
Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?

Further reading:
Breathing Difficulties in Dogs

Categories: CollapseConditionsDifficulty breathingDog health advocacyReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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