Health data of short-muzzled breeds helps inform personalized careA new set of white papers published by Nationwide highlights the need for careful counseling of brachycephalic dog owners February 21, 2023 While it is no secret brachycephalic dogs experience increased health risks as compared to their longer-nosed counterparts, new research from Nationwide confirms anecdotal veterinary evidence is certainly rooted in fact. The Nationwide Pet Health Analytics and Insights Team has analyzed the data of more than 50,000 brachycephalic dogs from its canine database. The results, published as a pair of white papers, reveal insights into diseases representing increased risks for brachycephalic and “extreme” brachycephalic dog breeds (i.e. French bulldogs, English bulldogs, pugs), including heightened risk of breathing problems and associated challenges. “While veterinary researchers have investigated many of these conditions, most were single-site evaluations, often including groups of fewer than 100 dogs,” says Nationwide’s chief veterinary officer, Jules Benson, BVSc, MRCVS. “To our knowledge, this analysis represents the largest single-study cohort of brachycephalic dogs ever conducted. The sheer volume of claims our team was able to analyze provides a major advantage in identifying health risks.” Key findings include: The risk of brachycephalic dog owners submitting a claim for any breathing problem, including brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), was almost three times higher than for non-brachycephalic dogs. “Extreme” brachycephalic breeds have a dramatically higher risk of having claims for BOAS, even compared with other brachycephalic breeds. French bulldogs are more than 17 times more likely to have a claim submitted for BOAS, English bulldogs are nearly 12 times more likely, and pugs are almost 10 times more likely. A BOAS diagnosis may be considered an effective sentinel disease for other conditions (e.g. pneumonia, spinal disease, esophageal, gastrointestinal disease), which are exacerbated by extreme brachycephalic morphology. “The goal of our brachycephalic research is to provide veterinary healthcare teams and pet-owning families with objective, data-informed personalized pet health guidance,” Dr. Benson says. “Our results highlight the need for careful counseling of brachycephalic dog owners, especially those with extreme conformations. We aim to facilitate close collaboration, early disease recognition, appropriate interventions, and better health outcomes for pets.” To access part one of the white paper, click here.