Bulldogs Soft Palate Surgery: Before and After

Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed that is prone to soft palate surgery. The structure of their nasal and face often puts bulldogs in a problem like breathing issues. This is such an unfortunate reason behind their flat-face that always people love. Well, who wouldn’t? These facial features are bulldog’s assets to win the hearts of their soon-to-be-owner, but this cuteness comes at a price.

If these issues became severe, vets would require them to undergo an operation. Under this method, corrective measures to the elongated soft palate may take place. Like any other surgery, elongated soft palate surgery complications may occur like swelling or excessive bleeding.

Before soft palate surgery: Understanding the Syndrome

Bulldogs often suffer from respiratory problems. This problem is known as brachycephalic airway syndrome that mostly short-nosed breeds usually experience. The symptoms of suffering from this syndrome are coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, collapse, high pitch gasping, and gagging.

This symptom occurs because their elongated soft palace extends into their airway and interfere with their breathing. Brachycephalic dogs also might suffer from stenotic nares or deformed nostrils and everted laryngeal saccules. The latter involves a small bag of tissue pulled into their windpipe. This way happens because they are working harder to fill their lungs.

Before your dog will have severe consequences and affects its daily life, surgical correction must take place. Correcting these abnormalities can make them breathe better.

Who are the candidates for Soft Palate Surgery?

Unfortunately, not all bulldogs could easily undergo the surgical procedure due to an uncontrollable situation. Yes, brachycephalic dogs are the primary candidate, but if their weight doesn’t permit them or they even have other few defects on their body, it is a ‘no’ for them.

If you want your bulldog to undergo a surgical procedure, be sure that they are fit. Bear in mind that obesity will only worsen the case, so better make your pet have a healthy lifestyle. Who knows? Maintaining an ideal weight could also lead them away from having a procedure under the knife.

Bulldogs experiencing constant difficulty in breathing because they have upper airway anatomic abnormalities are considered candidates for surgery.

What are the risks?

In any surgical procedure, there are risks. The dangers in palate surgery are bleeding, pain, swelling, decreased appetite, long surgical recovery time, and worse case is death.

What is the result in bulldogs after surgery?

Those bulldogs who undergo surgery show improvement, especially in their capacity to breathe. You will also notice that almost all snoring will disappear. It may sound quieter and more comfortable. However, because they are brachycephalic dogs, they may still be louder than non-pushed-in face dogs.

Another result is that they will become more active and engage in activities because they can breathe easily. The epiglottis’ interfering reduces; other structures like the pharyngeal will no longer be sucked inside toward the back of the throat. The most crucial result that may expect after surgery is to see a significant improvement in their life.

How much will the surgery cost?

It depends but a reasonable estimate ranges from $750-2500. You have to understand that the cost varies from the various conditions like the location, whether it is in the city or rural. It also depends on the surgeon’s experience.

Board-certified veterinary surgeons are likely more expensive than general practitioner veterinarians. It would be best if you also considered the length of hospitalization. The faster the recovery, the lesser chance your pet will stay admitted to the hospital. A shorter period means less expensive.

How long does the surgery take?

The soft palate surgery procedure takes less than 60 minutes. Sometimes, it also depends on the experience of a surgeon and the techniques used. Laser surgery is more quickly than traditional surgery. The whole anesthetizing method, surgery procedure, and the recovery from operation must also consider when determining the time. We must understand that not all bulldogs have the same recovery process.

The elongated soft palate evaluation

The elongated soft palate measures 3 mm. Before surgery, it is a must to evaluate the soft palate. The correct positioning is crucial because the dog must keep its mouth open using a mouth gag to suspend the maxilla. This way, it will let the oral tissues lie in the usual position.

When evaluating the soft palate, exercise caution too. The soft palate’s natural position would affect its place when the tongue and oral tissues tracts or in the presence of an endotracheal tube.


After evaluating the soft palate, the veterinary surgeon performs the surgery. Veterinarian technician and veterinarian are present while the dog is anesthetized. They will also monitor the blood oxygenation level, respiratory rate, and heart rate. Also, here are the detailed steps on how to do the operation.

  1. Identify the redundant soft palate tissue to remove by measuring it and putting some landmarks to determine tissues’ excision point. The bulldog must intubate when evaluating this connection with no grip on the tongue.
  2. When this connection has recognized, using a CO2 laser, a skin marker, or electrocautery unit can be used to form a mark that draws and trails where the epiglottis traces the soft palate.
  3. Reintubation of the bulldog finishes once the surgical landmarks are recognized and evident. Prevent blood from draining by using pack gauze sponges at the back of the oral cavity through the nasopharynx into the trachea.
  4. Staphylectomy or soft palate resection can perform by using the traditional sharp resection method, CO2 laser, electrocautery unit, and bipolar sealing device.
  5. To visualize soft palate and laryngeal tissues, retract the tongue towards the nose. Grasping the soft palate’s caudal margin and drawing back it frontally by using Allis or Babcock forceps.


In suturing mucosa, two stay sutures can place at the soft palate edge and used for handling during transection. Next is cut off the soft palate 2 mm in front of the mark. However, Metzenbaum scissors use for incising the palate for the sharp resection method.

For closure, and using the sharp resection method, suture the soft palate gradually in a simple continuous pattern before the nasal and oral mucosal ends. Nevertheless, suturing is not always necessary if the procedure only uses an electrocautery unit, BSD, or CO2 laser.

Other surgery procedure

CO2 laser or electrocautery has excellent benefits. These instruments lessen bleeding, pain, and inflammation in the surgical procedure because the beam coming from the CO2 laser closes nerve endings and lymphatic. Other advantages are as follows:

  • Slight hemorrhage
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Possible bactericidal properties
  • Lessening of surgery time
  • Quick recovery
  • Reduce risk infection
  • Produce sterilizing effect

After Surgery:

Recovery, Pain Management

& Complications

Bulldogs who had undergone surgery should be admitted to the hospital until the veterinary surgeon ordered that the pet finally go home. Release from the hospital could be within 24 hrs. after surgery, but an owner should expect that their pets have to hospitalize as long as needed to guarantee the best result. After release, expect that a recovering period of 10-14 days or longer must initiate to ensure sufficient healing.

Bulldogs postsurgical recovery

  • Don’t remove the extubation yet. Please wait until the bulldog regains consciousness and resumes its capacity to swallow. It will guarantee that the bulldog is capable of breathing. It may take longer than generally seen with usual postoperative improvements.
  • If needed, provide supplemental oxygen to help them fully recover.
  • Respiratory rate monitor for a minimum of 12 to 24 hours. Give supplemental oxygen and sedation immediately if respiratory distress encounter. Temporary tracheostomy may require if the bulldog fails to respond.
  • Offer a small amount of water after suppressing your bulldog to drink for 12 hours. Next, if your pet accepts the water, give them a small amount of food and monitor any signs of impaired swallowing. Characters like coughing and gagging may show, but generally, after several weeks, it will resolve.
  • Self-trauma to nares will prevent by using an E-collar.

Do’s and Don’ts after surgery

After surgery, certain things must avoid making your bulldogs heal faster. It is essential not to put much pressure on the neck, so it is necessary not to place collars. It is better if you will use a harness because this is much comfortable for your pets. Also, be sure to keep them in a cool place and away from heat to make them relaxed.

Limit your pets in exercise after surgery and during recovery for six weeks. Limit your pets’ walking exercise for 5-10 minutes and gradually increase it by another 5 minutes each week until the last postoperative check. Do not forget that patients also needed to walk during cooler times of the day, like early in the morning or evening.

Follow up check-up after surgery is 2 to 10 days to check their progress or if there’s any complication or other concerns.

Furthermore, a soft diet is best to feed your bulldogs for about six weeks to lessen airway soreness. It will transition into regular food or be acceptable to feed their normal diet as time goes by.

Pain Management

Take-home medicines are necessary for patients who have undergone surgery. It will help them for fast recovery. Here are some lists that veterinary surgeons may prescribe to the patients undergo soft palate surgery.

  1. Acepromazine is a sedative that helps restless animals or excited postoperatively. It transforms the chemicals in your pet’s brain to modify their behavior.
  2. Butorphanol is used as pain control and also beneficial for its antitussive content and mild sedative effects. It may use as frequent dosing because the analgesic effect is only short-lived. Also, butorphanol doesn’t create nausea, panting, or vomiting seen with other opioids.
  3. Maropitant is use for brachycephalic breeds postoperatively as a cure for motion sickness and vomiting.

Special care after surgery

After going home, monitor your dog’s breathing for 24 hours and observed if your pet has discomfort. You should also watch if there’s increased noise in the airway or coughing. If you noticed a continued bloody discharge from your dog, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, or other not a regular activity, do not hesitate to contact the clinic.

After your dog’s surgery, you should control their activity for seven days. They can go outside, use the bathroom, or short walks using a leash. Running, jumping, and playing with any housemates should be prevented. These activities may put a strain on the incision site and could lead to complications.


The most commonly faced complications are inflammation that blocks the larynx and trachea, leading to respiratory distress. Also, bleeding from side feature of the soft palate or caudal aspect of the tonsillar crypt is one complication seen after surgery. Some common difficulties are coughing, gagging, change in voice, vomiting, pneumonia, infection, discarding pigmented layer of the skin, and separation of surgical wounds’ edges.

Additionally, complications also happen if you didn’t limit the activities of your pet. Running, chasing, and playing with your pet may stress the incision and lead to worse case scenarios.

Key points

  • Surgical correction of the soft palate is a treatment to make your pet improve its daily life.
  • Your pet bulldog must pre-oxygenated before the procedure to keep oxygen saturation.
  • One of the main physical attributes of brachycephalic syndrome is the soft palate.
  • Bulldog must undergo soft palate surgery if it is elongated and causing breathing problems.


Early detection is the best way to overcome this syndrome. Before your pet suffers from respiratory distress, it is better to go to the vet and let him examine when you notice some disturbing signs. Soft palate surgery will be recommended by the vet if the pet needs to have a better life.

Furthermore, it is essential to know the necessary information before your pet undergoes surgery and what will happen to them after. It is a must, so you will learn how to handle it. Be ready and vigilant. These are also some of the keys to how to take good care of your pet properly.

Overall, the risk of complications is low. Therefore, there is a chance of improving your dog’s respiratory distress and tolerance is high. Correction is the answer for a long term result.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of bulldogpapa.com. Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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