The Emergency and Critical Care service at the RVC manages both emergency referrals and patients requiring critical care in our intensive care unit. We see many brachycephalic dogs.
The reasons for presentation of a brachycephalic breed to the emergency referral service are normally centred around the respiratory system and complications associated with brachycephalic obstructive airway system, including upper airway obstruction and aspiration pneumonia.
The latter would be one of the main reasons why brachycephalic breeds require critical care, which sometimes can lead to mechanical ventilation being required. This is when a pet requires a machine to take over the work of breathing usually because they are not oxygenating or ventilating themselves effectively, or they are breathing so hard that there is a concern that they will fatigue.
We will often receive brachycephalic breeds from other services in the hospital into our ICU when there is a concern about their breathing, which can quickly escalate to marked increases in their body temperature that can, in the worst case, affect other organ systems and require intensive support.