Brachycephalic Dogs and Laser Elongated Soft Palate Surgery

    Figure 1: Dog prepped for laser soft-palate surgery. Provided by Ray Arza, DVM.

    Elongated soft palate is a very common abnormality found in brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic breeds include Boston terrier, boxer, bulldog, Pekingese, pug, Rottweiler, and shih tzu. [1] Other abnormalities found in brachycephalic dogs include stenotic nares, everted laryngeal saccules and laryngeal collapse.[2]

    Some common symptoms of elongated soft palate include breathing difficulties, snoring, stridor, snorting, gagging, etc. Depending on the severity, the dog may be unwilling to exercise and may even develop a complete collapse of the airway. It is important to treat these symptoms early: if pet owners wait too long, the elongated soft palate may contribute to the development of secondary problems and the corrective surgery may be less effective.[2]

    Example of Elongated Soft Palate Breathing

    The elongated soft palate in this Boston terrier caused breathing problems.  This video was taken using a video vetscope by Louis Gotthelf, DVM of Montgomery, AL.

    After Elongated Soft Palate CO2 Laser Surgery

    The redundant tissue was excised using a CO2 laser.  This video by Louis Gotthelf, DVM shows how the dog’s ability to inhale and exhale has greatly improved.

    Elongated Soft Palate CO2 Laser Surgery as Seen on Animal Planet

    Dee Thornell, DVM, performs soft palate repair on a dog using an Aesculight veterinary surgical laser. During the video clip, Dr. Dee notes the laser’s ability to cauterize and cut simultaneously, helping to reduce bleeding.


    The use of a veterinary surgical CO2 laser decreased pain, inflammation and greatly reduced hemorrhage. The use of a CO2 laser to correct elongated soft palates, stenotic nares, and to perform other soft-tissue orofacial procedures offers many benefits over conventional methods such as scalpels, scissors or electrosurgical units.[2]



    1. Packer R, Hendricks A, Tivers M, Burn C. Impact of Facial Conformation on Canine Health: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway SyndromePLoS One. 2015; 10(10): e0137496.
    2. Arza R. Elongated soft palate resection with a CO2 surgical laser. Veterinary Practice News. 2015;10:32-33.

    Further Reading: