Stenotic Nares

Written by Katie

July 22, 2021

Do you have a “smushed face” breed that breaths loudly all the time and snores even louder at night? Your dog may have a condition called Stenotic Nares. Brachycephalic (pushed in or short faces) breeds such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Pekingese, Boxers, Shih Tzus, and Lhasa Apsos are prone to this genetic malformation. The cartilage of the nostrils is misshapen and pinched closed making is difficult for air to pass through. Patients primarily breath through their mouths to compensate. Other disorders such as an elongated soft palate and everted laryngeal saccules can also either cause or exacerbate airway obstruction in the brachycephalic breeds.


Patients with stenotic nares may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Noisy breathing, especially during inhalation
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Loud snoring
  • Cyanosis – blue gums due to lack of oxygen
  • Fainting


Discuss your dog’s symptoms with your veterinarian. Sever cases will likely require surgery. For mild cases, non-surgical management may be recommended such as:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limiting stressful situations
  • Limit exercise in hot or humid weather
  • Use a harness instead of a neck collar

Peach’s Story

Peach’s Exam

Peach is an exuberant 3 ½ year old Pug. During her annual exam, the clients expressed their concerns over her breathing difficulties. (Click here to watch a video of her breathing.) Given her severe case of stenotic nares, Dr. Widdel recommended surgical repair as well as weight loss. After consideration, the clients opted to schedule surgery.

During surgery, Peach was placed under general gas anesthesia with an endotracheal tube maintaining her oral airway. Dr. Widdel performed essentially a “nostril lift” removing part of the excess nostril and suturing the remaining pieces back together. As Peach woke up from anesthesia she notably sniffed, an early sign that she could breathe more freely out of her nose. Though it may take some time for her to realize she can breathe out of her nose rather than her mouth, she will get the hang of it. We look forward to feedback from her owners that she is breathing more comfortable and quieter.

Before Surgery
After Surgery

When to Have the Procedure Done

During your dog’s spay or neuter is an opportune time to have this procedure done. Adding it on to another procedure saves the pet from going under anesthesia twice which also saves you money. It would be best not to add it on to a dental procedure given the close proximity to the mouth and the bacteria we are stirring up.

If you believe your pet would benefit from this surgery, we should start with a consultation exam. Give us a call at 218-444-5797 to schedule an appointment.

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