Soft palate resection and alar fold resection

Brachycephalic dogs are those with short noses, such as Bulldogs and Pugs. These dogs have issues with their respiratory passages as a result of their shortened muzzle, which results in the snorting and gurgling noises that they often make.

The changes to their airways are divided into primary and secondary problems. The secondary problems such as elongated soft palate or everted laryngeal saccules, will worsen over time, and it is therefore best to correct as much of the primary problem as possible as early as possible in the dog’s life.

Severe brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome is a life threatening emergency, especially in hot humid weather.


80% of airway resistance in a normal dog is located at the external nares, the nostrils that you can see. Improving airflow here can make a dramatic difference to airway pressures further back in the respiratory tract and reduce the chances of secondary airway disease developing. Surgery involves removing some of the cartilage from the nostrils, and creating a wider opening.

Some dogs also have very long soft palates hanging from the back of their throat. These become entangled with the epiglottis, guarding the entrance to the windpipe, resulting in the gurgling, snoring sounds. The soft palate can be trimmed short back to a normal size.

Surgery at the back of the throat is more difficult than the external nares, but achievable with the right instruments and attention to detail.

Suitable candidates

Otherwise healthy dogs with obstructed external nares, and overlong soft palates. The palate diagnosis and surgery should be done under one anaesthetic.

Note that dogs with severe respiratory distress are medical emergencies. These may require treatment with a temporary tracheostomy in which a tube is placed into the windpipe to allow air to flow.

Time in clinic

Patients are normally discharged the same day as surgery, so that someone can monitor them overnight. Complications can occur with soft palate surgery and especially with tracheostomy surgery.
Compromised patients will be sent to the afterhours veterinary clinic for continuous monitoring overnight.

After care

Close monitoring of breathing for a few days, and use of a restrictive collar if alar cartilage has been removed from the nostrils.

Other than that, the improvement is breathing and activity levels is normally immediate.

How to book

Give reception a ring on 09 238 7486 to discuss transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, xrays images, and medications with you when you come.