The early and accurate diagnosis of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) in dogs is pivotal for effective treatment and enhanced canine well-being. Owners often do underestimate the severity of BOAS in their dogs. In addition, traditional diagnostic methods, which include pharyngolaryngeal auscultation, are often compromised by subjectivity, are time-intensive and depend on the veterinary surgeon’s experience. Hence, new fast, reliable assessment methods for BOAS are required.
The aim of the current study was to use machine learning techniques to bridge this scientific gap. In this study, machine learning models were employed to objectively analyze 366 audio samples from 69 Pugs and 79 other brachycephalic breeds, recorded with an electronic stethoscope during a 15-min standardized exercise test. In classifying the BOAS test results as to whether the dog is affected or not, our models achieved a peak accuracy of 0.85, using subsets from the Pugs dataset. For predictions of the BOAS results from recordings at rest in Pugs and various brachycephalic breeds, accuracies of 0.68 and 0.65 were observed, respectively. Notably, the detection of laryngeal sounds achieved an F1 score of 0.80.
These results highlight the potential of machine learning models to significantly streamline the examination process, offering a more objective assessment than traditional methods. This research indicates a turning point towards a data-driven, objective, and efficient approach in canine health assessment, fostering standardized and objective BOAS diagnostics.