In brachycephalic dogs, the skull bone shortening is not paralleled by a decreased development of soft tissues. Relatively longer soft palate is one of the main factors contributing to pharyngeal narrowing during normal respiratory activity of these dog breeds, which are frequent carriers of the brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome (BAOS), which affects most part of them during their postnatal life. No histological studies assessing the morphology and the normal tissue composition of the soft palate in brachycephalic dogs are available, neither has ever been determined whether the elongated soft palate is a primary or secondary event. Aim of this study was to describe the morphology of the caudal soft palate in brachycephalic dogs with Grade I BAOS to identify potential features possibly favoring the pathogenesis of BAOS. Specimens from brachycephalic dogs (N = 11) that underwent preventive surgery were collected from surgery, processed for histology, and examined at six transversal levels. The brachycephalic soft palates showed peculiar features such as thickened superficial epithelium, extensive oedema of the connective tissue, and mucous gland hyperplasia. Several muscular alterations were evidenced in addition. The results of this investigation add to the general knowledge of the anatomy of soft palate in the canine species and establish baseline information on the morphological basis of the soft palate thickening in brachycephalic dogs.
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