According to the "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook," the soft palate closes the airway and nasal passages during swallowing. If a dog's soft palate is too long, it may cause severe breathing difficulties and larynx damage. Veterinary surgeons repair this issue by shortening the soft palate.
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The surgeon stretches the soft palate and then removes the excess tissue, states the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). If the surgeon uses a CO2 laser instead of scissors or a scalpel, no stitches are necessary.
Conditions that usually accompany an elongated soft palate are stenotic nares (narrow or collapsed nostrils) and everted laryngeal saccules (airway tissue pulled into the windpipe). ACVS says the surgeon will fix stenotic nares at the same time as the soft palate surgery, and may remove laryngeal saccules then as well.
Post-surgery bleeding and inflammation can block the airway, ACVS says, requiring the temporary insertion of a tube into the trachea.
ACVS reports that young dogs generally do well after soft palate surgery. If the dog has larynx damage, he may need additional procedures.
Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds are prone to having elongated soft palates. Bulldogs, pugs and Boston terriers are examples of brachycephalic dogs.
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