Surgical Correction of Stenotic Nares

Most brachycephalic dogs have stenotic nares; this means that their nostril openings are much smaller than the average, "normal" dog nostrils.    These tiny nostrils can obstruct breathing by severely limiting the amount of air that can pass through them.   There is certainly a degree of variation that exists with stenotic nares, and some dogs that have severe stenosis may require corrective surgery.  The procedure is one in which a surgical laser is used to widen the nostrils, either by removing a small piece of tissue that protrudes into the center of the opening or by removing a wedge of tissue along the side of the nostril and then closing that space with sutures, thereby creating a wider opening in the center of the nostril.    The decision of which surgical technique will be used is made by the veterinarian and is based on the conformation of each individual patient's nose.

The main potential post‐surgical complication of the stenotic nares surgery is swelling of the tissue at the surgery site around the nostrils.  Anti‐inflammatory medication is administered during the procedure in order to avoid this problem.   Some dogs will require additional anti‐inflammatory medication for a few days after the procedure, depending on the amount of swelling that may occur.  Another possible post‐operative complication is nasal discharge that may dry up and cause crust inside the nostrils or occlude the openings.  Owners can gently clean the nostrils with cotton swabs or paper towels soaked with warm water if such discharge does occur.  Some dogs may require antibiotics if the discharge becomes thick and cloudy.  Owners should closely monitor the dog for the first 24 hours after surgery for any signs of difficulty breathing, either from swelling of the nostrils or blockage by severe nasal discharge.   Any signs of difficulty breathing should be addressed immediately, and the dog should be seen by a veterinarian.

The other main post‐surgical concern is pain control.  Pain medication is administered by injection both pre and post‐ operatively, and patients are sent home with oral pain meds for the owner to administer.    Some patients may not tolerate the oral pain medications and may need to return to the clinic for a pain med injection.  Owners are encouraged to bring the patient back for a pain med injection if they are unsuccessful at administering oral pain meds.