How to Tell If Your French Bulldog Is Sick
Common health conditions in French Bulldogs
French bulldogs are known for having various health issues. They face a long road of health problems. A study conducted by Royal Veterinary College in London revealed that 72.4% of the French bulldogs studied had at least one disorder. This is a clear indicator that despite French bulldogs been a common dog breed in the United States, they are susceptible to various health problems. Male Frenchies are even more susceptible to health issues than females.
Here we have compiled a list of all the health concerns you should be aware of, including the symptoms to watch. Read on to learn more.
Allergies are common in French Bulldogs and can be caused by food, drugs, or environmental factors. Your dogs can develop allergies at any point during their lifetime. Common allergens include fleas, fabric, perfumes, and fertilizers. Other allergens include:
- Cleaning products
- Dust and house dust mites
- Mold spores
- Pollens cigarette smoke
- Food ingredients and more
Often, skin conditions caused by allergies go hand in hand with gastrointestinal symptoms. So you may want to contact a veterinarian to unearth the root cause.
Symptoms of allergies in French Bulldogs
- Itchy back or base of the tail
- Increased scratching
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Constant licking
- Nails being covered with lines of food deposition
- Bloody looking nails
- Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
- Itchy ears and ear infections
- Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
- Paw chewing/swollen paws
- Loss of fur and shine among the dogs
This is a common genetic disorder that is commonly seen in purebred pets and brachycephalic breeds and is characterized by an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth. This disorder can be corrected when puppies are 3 to 4 months old.
Symptoms of cleft palates in Frenchies
- Aspiration pneumonia (Coughing
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Chronic runny nose
- Slow growth
- Respiratory difficulty as a result of aspiration pneumonia
- Labored breathing after light activity
Elongated Soft Palate
The soft palate is simply the soft tissue located at the back of the roof of the mouth. In a Frenchie with an elongated soft palate, this tissue grows too long for the head and can block the entrance of the trachea. The elongated soft palate is part of the Brachycephalic Syndrome, and many Frenchies are born with this issue. Fortunately, it is treatable.
Symptoms of Elongated Soft Palate in Frenchies
- Noisy or difficult breathing
- Exercise intolerance or collapse after exercise
French bulldogs overheat easily and have a hard time regulating temperatures. This is because they are flat-faced breed, which can often cause breathing problems and they overheat quickly. So it is crucial to monitor their temperature if you live in hotter areas because if heat stress is left untreated, it can lead to heatstroke. If you have to take them for walks during summer, keep them short.
Common causes of heat stress
- Failing to provide shade when outdoors
- Leaving your pet in the car on a hot day
- Symptoms of heat stress in Frenchies
- Excessive panting
- Blue or bright red gums
- Signs of discomfort
Signs of heat stroke in French Bulldogs
- Excessive drooling
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Lack of coordination
What to do when your Frenchie overheats
PetMD recommends doing the following:
- Move to a cooler area. If you are outside, get indoors
- Put your dog in the bathtub.
- Run a cool shower over your pet, covering the whole body — especially the back of the head and neck.
- Use a small pool or garden hose with cool water if you don’t have a tub.
- Apply a cold pack to the pet’s head.
- A packet of frozen vegetables works fine.
- Massage the legs. A vigorous rubbing boosts circulation and reduces the risks of shock.
- Allow your pet to drink as much cold or cool water as it wants. You can add a pinch of salt to the water to replace the minerals it lost through panting. If exhibiting any signs of heat stroke, call your veterinary immediately.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
IVDD is a common condition where the discs between the vertebrae in the spine herniate or bulge into the spinal cord space. In dogs, it can be caused by forceful impacts such as running or falling on stairs. These discs can press on nerves causing nerve damages, pain, and paralysis. Fortunately, IVDD can be corrected by surgery after a thorough diagnosis.
Symptoms of IVDD in Frenchies
- Hunched back or neck with tense muscles
- Pain and weakness in the hind legs
- Sudden inability to lift the head
- Unwillingness to jump
- Crying out in pain
- Muscle spasms over back or neck
- Anxious behavior
- Reduced appetite and activity level
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
Ear infections are common health problems in French bulldogs. There are three main types of ear infections: otitis interna (infection of the inner ear), otitis media (infection of the middle ear), and otitis externa (infection of the external ear). These infections can be as a result of allergies, bacteria, or yeast and can lead to deafness if left untreated.
Loss of hearing can be present at birth due to genetic defects and can also develop over time in older dogs. Loss of hearing is more common in merle French bulldogs. Speaking to your vet as soon as you suspect any ear infections or deafness is very crucial.
Bonus! The color of the coat can affect hearing. The coat colors associated with higher risk are white, roan, merle, and piebald.
Symptoms of deafness in Frenchies
- Unresponsive to its name
- Unresponsive to sounds
- Not woken by a loud noise
- Unresponsive to the sounds of squeaky toys
Gastroenteritis is often caused by a virus and affects almost 2% of all French Bulldogs. It starts with vomiting and diarrhea. It can resolve itself sometimes, but it is recommended you seek your vet’s assistance immediately when noticed.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis in Frenchies
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Blood in vomit or poop
- Loss of appetite
Cherry eye conjunctivitis (pink eye)
You will be forgiven if you thought your Frenchie had a third eyelid. That is not a third eyelid but a health disorder that occurs when a dog’s third tear gland pops out of its normal position and shows up in the corner of the eye as a red or pink swelling.
Cherry eye is common in younger French bulldogs but can also occur at any point in a Frenchie’s life. Be sure to visit your vet if you suspect any signs of cherry eye. Depending on the diagnosis, different treatments may be administered, including the elimination of diet, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic ointment.
Symptoms of cherry eye in Frenchies
- Swollen eyelids
- Red eyes
- Rubbing the eyes
- Discharge from the eyes
Ulcerative keratitis occurs in the cornea and can have various causes. It involves inflammation and ulceration of the cornea. If the condition is severe, surgery is required. Less severe cases require antibiotics.
Pyoderma is a bacterial infection that happens when your Frenchie gets a scratch, cut, or other wounds to the skin. The area becomes infected and sore. You can help prevent this infection by keeping the skin clean, specifically when your dog is wounded.
Colitis is the inflammation of the large intestine. The warning signs are similar to the symptoms of gastroenteritis. It is advisable to call your vet once you suspect colitis.
Skin Fold Dermatitis
Those adorable wrinkles in the Frenchie’s face can cause skin fold dermatitis. This condition also occurs in the vaginal, armpits, and neck area. Check for excessive scratching, itching, biting, redness, sores, welts, or crust in the areas with folded skin. Luckily, most of these problems can be controlled by keeping the skin folds clean and dry.
Anal Sac Impaction
Anal sac impaction is a very awkward condition for your Frenchie. The most likely cause is the drying of the fluids in your dog’s anal sacs. It is treatable, call a vet when you suspect anal sac impaction.
Symptoms of anal sac impaction in Frenchies
- Your dog starts scooting across the floor on his bottom.
- You notice a terrible odor.
- He starts biting or licking his bottom obsessively.
- You notice a terrible odor.
- Your dog shows signs of pain or constipation when relieving.
This is a hereditary disorder of the eyelids common in brachycephalic breeds. The eyelid rolls inward forcing the hair on the surface of the eyelid to rub against the cornea. It is advisable to get entropion treated as soon as possible. Your vet may carry out several surgeries to treat entropion.
Symptoms of entropion in Frenchies
- Inner eye inflammation
- Eye redness
- Excess tears
This is yet another hereditary disorder where an eyelash grows in an abnormal direction or arises from an abnormal location on the eyelid. If not treated, distichiasis can lead to:
- Corneal ulcers
- Loss of the eye
- Bacterial infections
Symptoms of distichiasis
- Excessive blinking or squinting
- Eye inflammation
- Cornea ulcers
- Eye discharge
- Eye pain
- Excessive tearing
A thorough examination by a professional vet to diagnose distichiasis is crucial. In most cases, the distichiae will have to be removed surgically.
Cataracts is a progressive disorder that leads to the opacification of the lens of the eye. This can result in a decrease in vision and blindness if not treated on time. If cataracts are caused by diabetes, the progress is even faster.
Other causes of cataracts include:
- Oddly low levels of calcium in the blood
- Old age
- Inflammation of the uvea
- Electric shock
- Exposure to radiation or toxic substances
Symptoms of cataracts in Frenchies
- Difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas
- Loss of vision
- Clouded, blurred vision
Surgery so far is the sure way to correct cataracts in Frenchies. After surgery, you may be required to apply eye drops for several weeks.
This is a rare, progressive disease of the spinal cord common in older dogs between the age of 8 to 14 years old. It worsens as time goes on. Though French bulldogs are less likely to develop this genetic problem, it is still a possibility.
It is caused by the degeneration of the white matter within the spinal cord. Some studies have shown that mutation in a gene is linked with a higher risk of developing this disease. As of a 2013 research, this mutation is present in about 20% of Frenchies, but only 1% will be affected. Sadly, this number may go higher in the future.
While there is no definitive testing available for degenerative myelopathy, a vet will first rule out tumors, stroke, injuries, cysts, and herniated intervertebral disks. The only way to confirm the diagnosis is once an autopsy is done and the spinal cord examined.
So far, there is no cure for dogs affected by degenerative myelopathy. However, there are a few things that can be done to improve the quality of affected dogs.
- Use of carts and harnesses to increase mobility
- Physical rehabilitation
- Nursing care
- Pressure sore prevention
- Monitoring for urinary infections
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Frenchies also develop an upper respiratory infection (URT) at some point in his life. URTs are highly contagious and can infect other dogs in your household and social sphere. Symptoms are similar to a cold.
This is a genetic disorder in which the patella or kneecap is luxated or dislocated from its normal position. In Frenchies, it is caused by a genetic malformation or trauma to the knee. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent it. The good news is that the dog will only feel the pain the moment the joint is dislocated. Afterwards your Frenchie will rarely experience any pain.
- Hindlimb lameness
- Occasional skipping
- Sudden lameness
- Prolonged abnormal hindlimb movement
Surgery which has proved to be very effective in correcting patellar luxation. In 90% of cases, the original function will be restored, and discomfort eased. However, there is a high risk of recurrence.
Alabama rot is a dangerous disease as it can damage your dog’s circulatory and kidney system. To prevent this disease, clean your pet’s skin folds and claws after all wet and muddy play. If possible, avoid walking them in muddy wooded areas.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
vWD is a congenital, chronic bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of an adhesive glycoprotein in the blood required for normal clotting. Mild to moderate vWD normally is no cause of concern. In severe cases, your pet may require a blood transfusion before surgery.
Symptoms of vWD in Frenchies
- Blood in the feces
- Prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma
- Bloody urine
- Excessive bleeding from the vagina
- Bleeding from the gums
- Bruising of the skin
- Blood loss anemia in case of prolonged bleeding
Thyroid glands produce various hormones such as thyroxine (T4) which are very crucial in your Frenchie’s metabolism and can cause serious problems if not produced at the normal levels.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where your Frenchie’s thyroid glands are not able to produce enough thyroid hormones. This condition leads to slow metabolism, which can result in the following symptoms in French bulldogs.
- Weight gain without a change in appetite
- Exercise intolerance
- Mental dullness
- Thickening of the skin
- Cold intolerance
- Changes in coat and skin, like increased hair loss, shedding, and hair thinning.
In Frenchies, this condition occurs when thyroid glands produce too much thyroid hormone. This increases the metabolic rate to dangerous levels. Thyroid cancer is one of the primary cause of hyperthyroidism in dogs. Symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Heart murmurs
- Increased appetite
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- An increased amount of stool
- Congestive heart failure
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland
A condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. It can also be a symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus.
A goiter is simply an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid glands caused by genetic defects. It can also be caused by iodine deficiency and be a symptom of congenital hypothyroidism.
Why does my Frenchie throw up?
While some French bulldog lovers have grown used to vomiting and come to think it is normal. It is not actually normal when your dog starts to throw up foam. You should consult a vet immediately your notice your dog keeps throwing up white foam vomit as this can be a sign of stomach bug or even something more serious.
Essentially, French bulldogs vomit because of being a Brachycephalic breed (have short faces). The small, shortened snout that makes them so admirable does not help much when it comes to eating and digesting food properly. This results in vomiting, regurgitation, and gagging which is characterized by the spit up of frothy foam.
Note that your Frenchie could also vomit for eating and gulping water down quickly. This is common among puppies.
French bulldog throwing up undigested food
If you notice your French bulldogs keep on vomiting undigested food, visit a vet immediately before it is too late. Even though sometimes vets also struggle to diagnose the root cause of Frenchies throwing up undigested food, here are some possible reasons.
Oesophageal disorders and issues
There are several oesophageal disorders and issues which can lead to your Frenchie throwing up undigested food. Lucky, your vet can diagnose these disorder and include:
The esophagus goes through the esophageal hiatus before entering the stomach. If a hernia develops in this opening, it blocks the food tube that allows food to enter the stomach. Luckily, this condition can be corrected by either a medical or surgical option.
Megaesophagus occurs when the esophagus becomes dilated due to a lack of peristaltic activity. In other words, this is when the esophagus becomes weak, and food can’t be pushed into the stomach and just stays in the esophagus. Megaesophagus is hereditary but can be caused by other problems.
Vascular ring occurs when the aorta (the large artery that carries oxygenated blood out of the heart) forms a complete ring around the esophagus and trachea. Although not common in French bulldogs, when it does happen, it results in regurgitation. Treatment includes antibiotics, oxygen supplements, and surgery.
Esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus and is diagnosed via biopsy, radiography, or the use of an endoscope. Possible causes include acid influx and food allergy.
The following symptoms can indicate your Frenchie has this condition:
Problems swallowing food
Pain in the throat or neck area
Loss of appetite
Unwilling to lie down
Treatment is varied depending on the cause but often managed by a diet that can heal the esophagus. Other treatment approaches may be considered if the condition is severe.
This is a major cause of vomiting, gagging, and regurgitation of undigested food. It leads to an elongated soft palate, hypoplastic trachea, stenotic nares, everted laryngeal saccules, and tracheal/laryngeal collapse.
French bulldogs have sensitive stomachs and allergic to some food. So if you are likely to see your Frenchie vomit undigested food if you serve food that can trigger allergic reactions.
Do French bulldogs vomit less when older?
Yes, your Frenchie will vomit less when older. She may throw up once in a while but not often as compared to when she was younger. Sometimes, she can go for years without throwing up.
Is your Frenchie actually being sick?
Vomiting is not the same as regurgitation. When your bulldog vomit often, there is a need to be concerned than when it just regurgitates. However, you shouldn’t ignore regurgitating if it persists. Basically, vomiting occurs when food is expelled from the stomach. Regurgitation is when food is expelled from the esophagus or throat before it even reaches the stomach.
How to help your Frenchie when vomiting
If the problem is mild and controllable, try switching the diets for a few days and remember to keep your dog hydrated. If you notice the problem is down to food allergy and other causes unknown to you, talk to your vet. It is also recommended to keep food away for 12-24 hours. After 24 hours have elapsed, give your Frenchie bland food, and slowly switch to the usual diet. Never self-medicate your dog as that can worsen the current condition. Finally, offer as much comfort as you can and observe for other symptoms.
How can you prevent your French bulldog from vomiting in the future?
The best approach is to provide the best care possible. For example, buy a Frenchie food bowl that is designed to slow down the eating process. Also, avoid serving food that can trigger allergic reactions.
When should you take your Frenchie to the vet after throwing up?
It is always a good idea to worry first and relax later. So if your Frenchie is throwing up frequently and seems distressed, visit or call a vet. Make sure to tell your vet what you saw.
How do I know if my French bulldog has a cold?
The causes of colds in dogs are similar, and several different viruses can cause cold symptoms in dogs. Some of which are more serious than others. That is why it is vital to treat your pet’s cold symptoms with a little better than you might treat a cold in yourself.
Symptoms of colds in dogs
- Watery eyes
- Runny or congested nose
The above symptoms could also be symptoms of more serious conditions. So it is a good idea to call your vet if not sure your dog has a cold.
Cold remedies for your Frenchie
Limit your dog’s time outdoors by encouraging it to rest. Resting is key to a quick recovery.
When recovering from cold, your pet does need enough fluid to recover fast. Give your Frenchie some soup and any other suitable fluids.
Lather on your pet’s snout with natural snout soothers. This prevents your dog’s nose from drying out, cracking, and bleeding when the weather is harsh.
Showing your pet love is the best way to make them feel better when recovering. Just do anything that will make your Frenchie happy.
Keep it hot and steamy
Make sure you have enough blankets for your pet to snuggle into while they are resting. Use a vaporizer if you Frenchie is stuffed up and congested.
Do dog colds go away on their own?
While it is a good idea to call a vet anytime you suspect your dog has a cold, mild cold is not a cause of concern. It will resolve on its own. A vet will be able to advise you on the possible treatment after a thorough examination. If treatment is indispensable, it will depend on the underlying condition.
How do I tell if a dog has a fever?
If you don’t have a thermometer, these symptoms will give you a hint:
- Red eyes
- Warm, dry nose
- Lethargy/lack of energy
- Warm ears
- Loss of appetite
Why does my Frenchie keep coughing?
It is natural for dogs to cough from time to time. For example, your Frenchie can cough in response to irritation or abnormality of the windpipe. What is not normal is when the cough persists as that can be a symptom of a serious underlying issue that may require vet attention.
Do French bulldogs cough a lot?
Frenchies with a cleft palate may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Chronic runny nose
- Excessive sneezing or snorting
- Coughing when drinking water
- Labored breathing after light activity
- Difficulty eating
Why is my French bulldog shaking?
There are many reasons why dogs shiver or shake uncontrollably. Possible reasons for shaking include anxiety, fear, pain, being too cold, and nerves. Diseases such as Addison’s disease may also trigger excessive shivering.
The difficulty is determining what is causing the shiver and whether it is a cause of concern. However, if you notice shivering accompanied by excessive panting, this is usually a sign of stress, and more intense discomfort or pain. Consult a vet if you notice other symptoms that accompany shaking or shivering and think are pointing to something serious.
Why does my Frenchie breathe fast when sleeping?
If your Frenchie has anemia, it lacks enough red blood cells to circulate oxygen in the bloodstream. When running low of oxygen supply, your dog can breathe more rapidly to compensate.
Are Frenchies good with children?
French bulldogs are a loving companion who thrives on human contact and tend to get along well with children of all ages. It is for this reason they are popular family pets. Since they are naturally playful, it is a good idea to supervise your Frenchie with kids to prevent the playtime from getting too much boisterous.
Insuring your Frenchie
As you have seen, Frenchies often have numerous health problems requiring you to visit vets now and then. Trips to the vet can be costly. One way of making sure your pet’s health is taken care of (even when on a tight budget) is by purchasing a dog health insurance. Fortunately, there are many dog insurance providers out there to consider.
Symptoms every pet owner should never ignore
Besides the above symptoms and signs, here are more to watch:
- Loss of appetite
- Pacing and restlessness
- Unproductive retching
- Loss of weight
- Trouble urinating
- Collapse or fainting
- Breathing problems
- Bloody vomit
- Bloody diarrhea and urine
- Urinating and drinking excessively
- Bruising and Bleeding
- Bloated or distended abdomen
- Bite wounds
- Weakness or lethargy
- Pale gums
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