It is important to understand the following when it comes to choosing your surgeon if you are deciding on airway improvement:

  • Appropriate airway correction potentially involves 5 procedures – not just nares opening and palate shortening.
  • Many surgeons, including some specialists, and those with significant reputations within the kennel clubs, only do two or maybe three of the five procedures. Hence we advise that it is particularly important to interview your vet regardless of recommendations, reputations or because they are specialists.
  • The most experienced surgeons will preadvise that your dog may potentially require each of these five procedures.
  • If any of the five procedures are not preadvised we encourage you to ask if they are comfortable doing them, and how often have they done each of those procedures. We understand that this is potentially an awkward question, but with something this important we think it’s worth asking.

The five procedures are:

– Nares widening

– Palate shortening

– Palate thinning

– Laryngeal saccules removal

– Tonsil removal

Hence you can rate your surgeon 2/5, 3/5, 4/5, 5/5 depending on how many of these they are very experienced in doing. The important consideration here is not ‘if‘ your surgeon is prepared to do them, but if they are very experienced in having done them.

Assessing correctly the potential benefits of these procedures is a very subjective thing, and our own practice has found we have often felt obvious concerns have either been missed or incorrectly assessed as no concern when we have done revision surgeries. You can still get good results if not all procedures are done, even from a 2/5 surgeon, but keep all of the above in mind as the higher the number, we feel the more likely you will be to get the maximum benefit for the longest time.

We are concerned the number of times we hear people are going in for nares and palate surgery, as this implies only 2/5 of the potential procedures are needed in order to receive maximum benefit. This is why we always advise that you should be going off for airway improvement, not nares and palate. Please help advise others if you see them asking about, or booked in for just nares and palate.

Remember that progressive airway concerns occur in all dogs, it’s just a matter of degree. This still occurs post airway improvement, but to a lesser degree and at a slower rate. The more you can improve them from the first surgery, the better the results and the longer they last, which lessens the chance of requiring further surgery in the future (although this is always a possibility even with the most experienced of surgeons).