Elongated soft palate is the most common pug breathing disorder. The soft palate is the flap of skin at the back of the throat. If the palate is too long, it blocks the airway making it difficult for the dog to breathe. The dog can also choke on or spit up pieces of kibble and even faint from lack of air. Signs are severe panting, unable to calm down quickly when excited, and possibly vomiting. Noisy, hoarse breathing when overheated is another symptom.
A vet can check the palate by looking down the dog’s throat, many times while the dog is awake if he/she is quiet and will allow it. Otherwise, a mild sedative can be given so the vet can do a methodical check.
Surgery can be done to shorten the palate but is not suggested until the dog is about a year old as the palate may still grow when they are pups, and another procedure may be necessary at a later date. Sometimes the dog may need to have laryngeal saccules or tonsils taken out also, and the vet will do this during the palate clip if required.
Laser surgery is now the most secure way to shorten the palate. It cauterizes as it cuts, reducing the bleeding and swelling, and lessens recovery time. During post-op recovery, only soft food should be given to allow the throat time to heal. Hard kibble can be frustrating. Rice/ground beef or chicken, soft dog food, eggs, oatmeal and even baby food are some of the meals that can be fed. Kibble can also be softened with hot water or gravy.
Healing time varies by dog but normal time is between 2-3 weeks.