Nope, it’s not the name of an Oscar-winning foreign-language film that you’ve never watched. Stenotic Nares is the medical term used to describe the narrowing of your dog’s nostrils and nasal passages; the two holes in their snout that allow them to breathe. With most breeds, you’ll never ever have to worry about them, however, some dogs are what is known as brachycephalic, i.e the term used to indicate that they have a smashed or squished face (think of Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers).

Why is this relevant? Well, dog’s that are brachycephalic have shortened snouts and rely heavily upon the width of their nasal passages to breathe regularly. What can sometimes happen is that your dog’s nostrils become inflamed or get bigger, taking up vital space that your dog will surely miss. Like all medical conditions, this can have adverse affects on your dog’s health and wellbeing.

Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to reverse this condition and plenty that can be done if your dog’s stenotic nares don’t get better!

Signs and Symptoms:

With stenotic nares, there are a few key things to watch out for; particularly to do with your dog’s breathing and their drive to exercise.

• Noisy breathing can be a definite sign, especially if it wasn’t noisy before.

• An aversion to exercise can indicate fatigue or oxygen depravation.

• Cyanosis, or, blue gums is also due to a lack of oxygen.

• Fainting or general lethargy is usually a key marker in diagnosing stenotic nares.

Stenotic nares can be easy to diagnose. We simply look at the size and width of the opening into the nostril. To confirm our assumptions, we normally test for a range of other diseases and conditions before confirming it as stenotic nares. These tests include:

• Listening to the chest with a stethoscope for other possible causes or respiratory problems.

• X-rays and/or an ultrasound to make sure their heart and lungs are healthy.

Not all pugs, french bulldogs or other brachycephalic dogs suffer from this condition, so you shouldn’t worry unless your dog is showing some of the signs listed above. Once a diagnoses has been made half the battle up the hill has already been won, but now you’ll need to take the fort on top...


Treatment for a mild bout of stenotic nares is simple and non-invasive. We’ll ask you to limit any stress that may cause your dog to breathe at an elevated rate, keep them at an acceptable weight for their breed and age and perhaps find an alternative to a traditional collar. The idea of this course of treatment is to reduce the burden of breathing and thus limit the impact of stenotic nares. However, if your dog’s condition worsens, they may require surgery.


Thankfully, surgery to remove or reduce stenotic nares is a fairly straight-forward affair. We’ll use a general anaesthetic to put your dog at ease while our expertly trained surgeons remove sections of excess cartilage and/or skin surrounding your dog’s nose. It doesn’t normally take longer than an hour or two and the difference that your dog will feel will be immediately noticeable. We’ll also prescribe any medications or painkillers that they’ll need for their recovery and monitor them for a few hours afterwards. It’s no worse than having your dog neutered!

So, if you think your dog may be suffering with stenotic nares or that there is anything fishy going on with their breathing, why don’t you give us a call. We can talk you through confirming the symptoms and see about getting you in for a quick check-up. And, of course, if you have any questions or worries you can always give us a call or check out our website here.

As always, we wish good health to you and yours during this time and hope that you’re making good use of the warm weather (for however long it may last).


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