The most common and recurrent symptom of an elongated soft palate is noisy breathing. Occasionally, the dog will make snorting sounds, which is due to the tip of the palate flapping into the trachea during respiration. This is called the "Cavalier snort" or a "reverse sneeze". The dogs also are more likely to snore, gag, or retch, and in severe instances, they may collapse if the airflow is obstructed completely.
In severe cases, the palate usually is examined with the dog under light general anesthesia, using a laryngoscope. An elongated palate will obstruct the view of the larynx when the tongue is depressed. The veterinarian may take an x-ray to determine the length of the palate and airway.
If the palate is only moderately elongated and does not totally block the trachea, snorting may be relieved by forcing the Cavalier to breathe through its mouth instead of its nose. This may be done by holding the dog's head down and mouth open with one hand while blocking air from entering the nose with the other hand.
Treatment for recurring blockage of airflow is surgical removal of excess tissue from the palate by a veterinary surgeon. Post surgery prognosis is good for young dogs. They generally may be expected to breathe much easier, with significantly reduced respiratory distress, and display more energy and stamina. Older dogs may have a less favorable prognosis.