iStock_000019599571_MediumThe dog days of late summer are upon us. And, for pets who have breathing problems, these kinds of days can be rough. There are several common pet breathing problems that we see that can worsen in the hot, humid weather.

If any of the following sound familiar to you, please exercise caution on hot days and call us if need be.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Those smooshy-faced pets like Pugs, Persians, and Bulldogs may be cute, but breathing is no picnic for them, even on the best of days. These breeds, described as brachycephalic, characteristically have a perfect storm of problems that affect their airways. These include:

  • Smaller than normal nostrils
  • Longer than normal soft palate
  • Small trachea (windpipe)
  • Crowding of the bones in the back of the nose

These traits make brachycephalic pets very inefficient at breathing, and therefore cooling themselves. If you have a pet with a short snout, it is important to monitor his or her breathing closely in warm weather to prevent heat stroke.

Some brachycephalic pets require surgeries to open the nostrils, shorten the soft palate, and even remodel the bones at the back of the nose so that they can breathe comfortably.


Animals, just like people, can suffer from asthma. Many times this condition is worsened in the summer and fall as the allergens in the air increase. Asthma affects cats most often and can be seen in pets of any age. Symptoms often include:

  • Coughing as if to produce a hairball
  • Wheezing, especially after activity
  • Sitting with shoulders hunched
  • Gagging up foamy material

Many other problems may resemble asthma. It is important to have these symptoms evaluated, as a severe asthma attack can be life threatening.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition in which the flaps at the back of the throat that protect the airway do not work properly. This results in the pet not being able to fully open his or her airway when a deep breath is taken.

Laryngeal paralysis affects mostly large breed, older dogs. It is a progressive condition that is made worse when a pet needs to take a deeper breaths, such as in the heat. Inability to get a good breath can result in anxiety and eventual respiratory distress. Dogs with laryngeal paralysis often have:

  • Exercise intolerance
  • Increased panting
  • A change in their bark
  • Loud noises associated with their breathing

If you suspect your pet may be suffering from laryngeal paralysis, it is important to have him or her evaluated. Luckily, there are surgical options for pets with this condition, which untreated can result in an emergency situation.

Summer can be a tough time of year for many reasons, but for pets with breathing challenges, it is even more problematic. If you have any concerns whatsoever regarding your pet’s breathing, do not hesitate to contact us. Your pet’s health is our top priority, and we are happy to help in any way that we can.