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The pug with a hole in his throat

Pugs are a popular breed: their small, big-eyed, snub-nosed, round-faced appearance ranks them high in the cuteness stakes. There's one serious issue, though: many pugs have breathing problems due to their squashed-up airways. The problem is known as brachycephalic syndrome.

For most pugs, the breathing problems are not serious enough for owners to be too concerned, but in Peanut's case a life threatening crisis meant that emergency surgery was needed.


The first event happened when he was just 11 months old. He was playing with his owner Lee in the kitchen at home when he started struggling to get his breath. The little dog then collapsed, falling onto his side and losing control of his bladder.

Lee stayed beside him, reassuring him as he slowly regained consciousness. He took him to the vet straight away, and an immediate referral was arranged to a respiratory surgery specialist at the veterinary teaching hospital in UCD.

A full work-up showed that Peanut had been born with a combination of an abnormally narrow windpipe, squashed nostrils that could not open wide enough, and deformities at the back of his throat that prevented the normal passage of air from his nose to his lungs.

His first operation aimed to correct these issues: his nostrils were widened and the back of his throat was nipped and tucked to allow air to flow more freely.

He made a good recovery at first, but within a year he was struggling to breathe again and had further episodes of collapse. This time a more radical procedure was recommended: a tracheostomy - a permanent, complete bypassing of the nose and mouth via a surgically-created hole in his windpipe.

Lee was shocked when he collected Peanut after the op: he now had a gaping circular hole right in the middle of his neck.

Lee and his partner, Aisling, were given detailed instructions on caring for the breathing hole (stoma). They had to clean it every hour to stop mucus from blocking it, and they had to feed him mashed up food that was easy to swallow.

Their little dog made a fast recovery, wanting to play within a couple of days, and he hasn't looked back since.

Peanut has to live with strict rules to keep him safe.

He can never swim, as water would gush into his windpipe and straight into his lungs. He can never have a bath: Lee wipes him down with a sponge instead. He has to avoid long grass and sand: any situation where small particles might enter the stoma.


There is some ongoing home care of the stoma, keeping it clean and healthy, but there have been no serious issues.

The improvement in his health has been dramatic: he now breathes quietly, he never struggles to breathe at all and he has had no more episodes of collapse. He lives a much more active, energetic life than he was able to do before the op, enjoying two long walks every day.

Just as a person with a tracheostomy cannot talk easily, Peanut can no longer bark. He still tries, but when there's someone at the door, instead of barking he just makes puffs of air through his stoma.

He's a happy dog - albeit a very quiet one.

Owner: Lee Corcoran from Bray

Animal: Peanut, his three-year-old Pug

Problem: Peanut needed a permanent
tracheostomy after collapsing from
respiratory distress