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Brachycephalism (honking cough in canines)

Introduction:

Breeds (Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bull Dogs, Mastiffs and Shih Tzus) that have significantly shorter muzzles and tracheas are referred to as brachycephalic. This characteristic predisposes these breeds to respiratory difficulties such as collapsing trachea. Tracheal collapse is a condition which is characterized by loss in diameter of the airway due to changes in the structure of the trachea caused by lack of chondroitin and/or glycoproteins. The weakened cartilage allows the tracheal ring to flatten and the trachea collapses. A dry “honking” cough is characteristic of tracheal collapse. Exercise intolerance, tachypnea, or respiratory distress are common signs.¹⁹ The compounding veterinary pharmacist can combine several drugs that work synergistically to treat this condition because no one commercially available drug usually takes care of this condition. An example is a formula which combines theophylline, ephedrine, potassium iodide, phenobarbital, and isoproterenol into a flavored liquid. Drugs that suppress the respiratory system should be used very carefully in these dogs. One benefit of brachycephalism is that the dog has less “smelling” capability, therefore we are usually able to administer medications to these dogs without them sniffing the dose and then refusing it. Unfortunately, because of their shorter muzzle , it is more difficult for the owner to grasp the dog’s mouth presenting a challenge in dosing. The veterinary compounding pharmacist can help in offering dosage form options that do not require grasping of the dog’s mouth.

Suggested Compounded Formulation for Brachycephalism:

Please call with any questions about this formulation at 408-296-5015.

Thank You

San Jose Compounding Pharmacy Team.