Proptosis -- An Eye-Popping Problem For Brachycephalic Pooches

Pugs, King Charles Spaniels and Pekingeses are all very popular small breeds that were originally bred to be lap and companion dogs. Pugs and Pekingeses were favorites of the Chinese Imperial Court, while King Charles Spaniels were a preferred pet of English royalty. In addition to being lovable and sociable companions, these three breeds also have another thing in common -- they are considered brachycephalic dogs that are also prone to proptosis.

 What Does Brachycephalic Mean?

Brachycephia is a term used to describe dogs like Pugs, King Charles Spaniels and Pekingese that have flat, wide skulls with very short noses, which is the opposite of most dog breeds, which tend to have long snouts and narrow skulls. Unfortunately, this flat skull conformation can lead to some health problems for these dogs, including breathing difficulty. That is why it's very important that you:

  • Pay attention to your brachycephalic dogs in hot, humid weather. As you may know, canines can't sweat. So to cool down, they pant. Unfortunately brachycephalic dogs have a very hard time drawing enough air in through their shortened noses to cool their bodies down
  • Don't go on long runs or jogs with these breeds. Because it is so hard for these dogs to breathe, you don't want to stress them out even more by working out with these flat-faced friends.  

If you own a Pug, King Charles Spaniel or Pekingese, it's important to keep an eye on them during hot weather for signs of heat stroke, which could include vomiting and seizures. Some brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs, have actually died of heat stroke after even just a short walk in hot weather. So if you suspect your dog is suffering from a heat stroke, take your pet to an emergency pet hospital immediately.

And What Does Proptosis Mean?

Unfortunately, because of their flat faces and shallow sockets, these three breeds can also suffer from proptosis, a condition where one or possibly both of your dog's eyes could become displaced from their eye sockets. This can be a very gruesome and frightening condition as the displaced eye may actually dangle from the socket. If this should happen to your pet, it's important to rush it immediately to the emergency pet hospital for treatment. Hopefully, the vet will be able to perform surgery and reposition the eye back in place. If, unfortunately, the dislodged eye has been damaged, the vet may need to remove it.  

To prevent proptosis, it's important that you do the following if you have a King Charles Spaniel, Pug or Pekingese: 

  • Avoid playing roughly with your dog. A blow to the back of a brachycephalic dog's head could knock an eye out of its socket
  • Walk your dog in a harness rather than a collar. The pressure of a dog straining against his collar could be enough to cause an eye to pop out.    
  • Be wary of letting your pet play with dogs you are unfamiliar with or that you know may be aggressive. If another dog should seize your pet by the neck, it could cause the skin to pull back, which -- in turn -- could cause an eye to become dislodged. 

The protruding eyes of a flat-faced dog are also more susceptible to scratches and injuries since these canines have very little snout to take the brunt of, say, any branches that they may encounter while out and about. 

While your brachycephalic dog may never have a problem with proptosis, it is always best to err on the safe side and keep it out of situations that could possibly put him at risk of this scary condition. 

About Me

Keeping Your Cats Healthy and Happy

My name is Deidre Holland and I am very much a cat person. I have several cats at home and before I bring a new cat into the household, I always take the animal to a veterinarian for a wellness exam. I want to make sure that the new cat is healthy before bringing him or her into the household with the other cats. The veterinarian gives the cat a complete physical exam and the required vaccinations. If you like cats as much as I do, I think that you'll find this blog very informative. In addition to the importance of a wellness exam, you'll learn the steps for introducing a new cat into the household. You'll also find out about nutrition, illness and behavioral problems in cats. Owning cats for many years has given me the experience to help other cat owners and I hope that it helps you.