The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has joined the University of Cambridge and the UK Kennel Club in adopting a new way to assess breathing difficulties in brachycephalic dog breeds like the English and French Bulldogs and the Pug.
The Respiratory Function Grading Scheme measures BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome) in dogs on an ascending scale of 0 to 3. Each grade comes with its own health recommendations.
Dogs in the 0-1 range are unaffected to mildly affected, and annual health checks are recommended. Dogs in the 2-3 range have more breathing problems and require management like weight loss and/or surgical intervention. It is recommended that dogs with a grade of 3 not be bred.
Veterinarians assess several factors to come up with a grade. They examine respiratory noises, inspiratory (breathing in) effort, and dyspnea/cyanosis/syncope (labored breathing/bluish discoloration/fainting) both before and after exercising.
Canine health experts note that these kinds of symptoms shouldn’t be normalized in flat-muzzled dog breeds. These dogs should be able to breathe easily while walking or playing just like other dogs.
Breeders can now have this test performed on their dogs by trained veterinarians and register the results with the OFA, as is done with other inherited canine health conditions like hip dysplasia.