A long history of health issues

French Bulldogs are notorious for their long list of genetic health problems. When many of those interested in owning a Frenchie start to do their research, they find out quickly that this breed is not cheap whatsoever. Sadly, many French Bulldog owners end up having to give up their dog for adoption when they find themselves unable to pay for the medical bills.

Surprisingly, French Bulldogs are the healthiest of all the “bully” breeds. Vet bills can quickly add up and those with Frenchies suffering from a chronic illness may struggle to afford these expenses. We recommend getting your Frenchie from a highly reputable breeder and investing in pet insurance for these reasons.

While many of these health problems are genetic, meaning they can be prevented by selective breeding of only the best dogs. French Bulldogs are commonly bred for their appearance, with a flat, smushed in face and a short, stocky appearance being desirable.

The problem with breeding solely for looks is that it can bring in a host of unwanted characteristics such as breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and spinal disorders.

Table of Contents

Before you buy a French Bulldog

If you are interested in owning a French Bulldog, we implore you to do thorough research so that you understand the possible health problems that your Frenchie could be affected by.

While selective breeding and genetic testing can reduce the chances of these disorders developing, no test can guarantee your French Bulldog will be completely free of disease throughout its life.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common French Bulldog genetic health problems to help you understand what gives Frenchies a bad rep.

Allergies

french bulldog allergies

Just like us humans can suffer from allergies, our Frenchies can as well! While genetics can increase the risk of your French Bulldog developing an allergy, it’s important to note that they can develop allergies at any point during their lifetime.

Unfortunately, flat-faced breeds such as the French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, and Pug are at a higher risk of developing allergies than non-brachycephalic breeds.

What exactly are allergies? Simply put, they’re a state of over-reactivity of the immune system when exposed to a substance called an allergen. There are many types of allergies, such as food allergies, seasonal allergies, drug allergies, and environmental allergies.

Symptoms of allergies in French Bulldogs

  • Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
  • Paw chewing/swollen paws
  • Constant licking

What could be causing these symptoms? The same allergens that bother us could be bothering your pets. Here’s a list of some of the most common pet allergens.

Most Common Pet Allergens

  • Tree, grass and weed pollens
  • Mold spores
  • Dust and house dust mites
  • Dander
  • Feathers
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Fleas and flea-control products (Only a few flea bites can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products
  • Fabrics
  • Insecticidal shampoo
  • Rubber and plastic materials

If you suspect your French Bulldog is suffering from allergies, consult with your veterinarian.

Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the tissue that covers the front part of the eyeball. Commonly referred to as pinkeye, conjunctivitis is characterized by symptoms such as swollen eyelids, red “bloodshot” eyes, squinting, and discharge from the eyes.

It can be caused by a variety of things such as allergies, dry eye, or other irritants. In some rare cases, conjunctivitis can be caused by more serious illnesses such as canine distemper.

french bulldog pink eye

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in French Bulldogs

  • Red eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Squinting
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Rubbing the eyes

If your French Bulldog is suffering from conjunctivitis, be sure to visit your veterinarian; there may be a more serious condition causing conjunctivitis. Your vet will most likely perform a complete eye examination to rule out more serious causes. If they are unable to find evidence that the conjunctivitis is caused by a disease of the eyes, a skin allergy test might need to be performed.

Treatment of conjunctivitis in French Bulldogs

Treatment differs depending on the cause of conjunctivitis; because there are so many causes of this disease, it’s hard to say what type of treatment may be necessary for your French Bulldog.

An antibiotic ointment or medication may be prescribed to your pet in the event of a bacterial infection.

Many cases are caused by allergies. If this is the case, your vet will likely recommend an elimination diet.

What is an elimination diet? Simply put, it’s a diet that helps to rule out possible dietary causes of health problems. The diet will be cut back to a bare minimum, and then slowly have other foods added to it to rule out what could be causing the allergies

In more rare cases, conjunctivitis may be caused by cancer. In these cases, surgical removal of the tumor will likely be necessary. Radiation therapy and cryotherapy may also be used in the treatment.

Regardless of the cause, if there appears to be inflammation in the eye, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the inflammation.

Deafness

Deafness, or hearing loss, is an all too common health problem in French Bulldogs. It can be present at birth due to genetic defects or develop over time in older dogs.

Fortunately, you can rule out congenital deafness by conducting a test known as the BAER test in puppies as young as 6 weeks old. Deafness is more common in white coated dogs due to a piebald gene which is often characterized by a mainly white coat with patches of black and blue eyes.

Deafness is also common in merle French Bulldogs as well, and we recommend staying away from breeders that offer merle French Bulldogs due to the other various genetic defects that are associated with the merle gene.

Image result for white french bulldog

The Role of Color in Hearing

You may be wondering why the color of the coat can affect the hearing.

The reason for this is that these genes are associated with a lack of pigment cells which give the appearance of their coats. There are small hairs in the inner ear that are called cilia, and when there is an extreme lack of pigment cells, the cilia may not develop properly, resulting in deafness.

If you are interested in a predominantly white French Bulldog or are just concerned about the possibility of your new puppy being deaf, be sure to ask your breeder about performing a BAER test.

Symptoms of deafness

according to PetMD include, but are not limited to:

  • Unresponsive to sounds
  • Unresponsive to its name
  • Unresponsive to the sounds of squeaky toys
  • Not woken by a loud noise

What can you do to make the life of a deaf dog easier?

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is skeletal disorder in which the ball and socket joint of the hip isn’t formed correctly. If left untreated, it can result in limited activity, pain, and the development of hip arthritis.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in French Bulldogs

Hip dysplasia in French Bulldogs is characterized by the following

  • decreased activity
  • inability to climb stairs
  • inability to jump
  • difficulty standing up
  • “bunny hopping”
  • hip pain/sensitivity

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in French Bulldogs

What are the main causes of hip dysplasia in French Bulldogs?

Some dogs will have a genetic predisposition to hip looseness or laxity which can increase the rate of progression of the disorder. Other environmental factors can contribute to the development and progression of hip dysplasia such as excessive growth, exercise, obesity, and other nutritional factors.

If you are concerned that your French Bulldog may be suffering from hip dysplasia, please consult with your veterinarian for a further evaluation. Your vet will usually perform an x-ray and physical examination to determine the degree and severity of the hip dysplasia.

Preventing Hip Dysplasia in French Bulldogs

You know how they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? This is certainly true when it comes to hip dysplasia in French Bulldogs.

  • Regular exercise
  • A healthy diet and weight
  • Refrain from jumping and landing on hind legs (i.e. holding a ball and having them jump for it)
  • Supplements such as vitamin C and E
    • Ask your veterinarian before starting any supplement regimens.
  • Avoid over-exercising as a puppy.
    • Keep exercise gentle and low impact
  • Get regular checkups at the vet.

Treating Hip Dysplasia in French Bulldogs

If your French Bulldog is suffering from hip dysplasia, fortunately, there are a few treatment options.

Physical therapy, weight control, and diet are great non-surgical treatment options for hip dysplasia. Physiotherapy and swimming can help build the muscles around the affected area without putting strain on the joint.

It’s also crucial that you keep your French Bulldog a healthy weight to keep as much pressure off the joint as possible. With the correct diet, you’ll be able to minimize any weight gain by offsetting their diet appropriately to their new activity level during recovery.

In more severe cases, surgery may be required to restore original function and reduce discomfort.

An early diagnosis is important when treating hip dysplasia in order to reduce the amount of damage and arthritis caused by hip dysplasia.

If necessary, there are a few different surgical procedures that your vet may recommend.

Hip Dysplasia Surgery

The cost of hip dysplasia surgery in French Bulldogs can range from $1,700 – $4,700.

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)

This procedure is usually performed when a puppy is between 10 and 18 weeks old. It requires early diagnosis of hip dysplasia. It consists of closing of a growth plate at the bottom of the pelvis, which has consistently shown positive evidence for providing normal pain free hip function.

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

This is a surgery option for dogs that are less than 8-10 months of age with hip dysplasia. It consists of cutting the pelvic bone in two or three places to improve the stability of the joint. Recent advancements in medical technology mean that this surgery is even less invasive than before, and usually only requires two cuts in the bone.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

If the aforementioned surgical procedures aren’t able to successfully treat the hip dysplasia in your French Bulldog, a total hip replacement is the next option. Your dog must be at least a year old before undergoing this operation.  Fortunately, it has shown positive results in providing a pain-free function in dogs with hip dysplasia.

The artificial hip joint provides a more natural range of motion and limb function in French Bulldogs affected by hip dysplasia.

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

This surgical option is usually the last resort for treating hip dysplasia. It can be done at any age and provide enough comfort without the use of anti-inflammatory pain medication.

This procedure consists of removing the ball of the joint to reduce pain and further damage to the joint cartilage and soft tissues of the joint. This will create a “false joint” that transfers the pressure from the leg to the pelvis.

Cherry Eye

Did you know dogs have a third eyelid? You’ve probably noticed it when your Frenchie was sleeping; it’s a red membrane in the eye that sometimes makes it look like their eyes are rolling back in his head. It serves to protect the eye from debris, fight off infection, and produce some tears for the eye.

Cherry eye is a health disorder that occurs when the tear gland of the third eyelid pops out of position.

french bulldog cherry eye

What causes cherry eye in French Bulldogs?

A congenital weakness of the tear gland in the eye is usually associated with cherry eye, however, it has not yet known whether it is inherited from parents. It’s also much more common in younger French Bulldogs, however, it can happen at any point in your Frenchie’s lifetime.

If your French Bulldog has a large, red mass protruding from its eye, take them to your veterinarian immediately. It’s important that you seek treatment quickly in order to minimize damage to the eye.

If cherry eye is left untreated, it may cause damage to the eye or third eyelid gland which may result in chronic dry eye. Severe cases of dry eye can seriously impair your French Bulldog’s vision. Don’t wait for cherry eye to go away on its own; go see your vet.

Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome

French Bulldogs are what are known as a brachycephalic breed. Simply put, brachycephalic means “short-headed” or “flat-faced”, and refers to that smushed face that we’ve come to love of dogs such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Chihuahuas.

Image result for french bulldog squished face

These cute looks don’t come without any drawbacks though; the flat-faced appearance of these dogs is what causes your French Bulldog to snort and snore. In severe cases, it can seriously hinder your Frenchie’s ability to breathe properly.

Brachycephalic syndrome refers to a multitude of conditions. These are an elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules.

  • Elongated soft palate
  • Stenotic Nares
  • Everted laryngeal saccules

Altogether, these conditions generally result in noisy breathing, exercise intolerance, retching, and gagging. It’s important to keep your French Bulldog a healthy weight as obesity will exacerbate these symptoms.

Stenotic Nares

french bulldog stenotic nares

What are stenotic nares in French Bulldogs? It’s a fancy way of saying pinched or narrow nostrils. Many short-nosed dogs suffer from this disorder, and it can result in difficulty breathing through the nose, snorting, and snoring.

There are varying degrees of severity of stenotic nares, with some nostrils being nearly closed, and some only slightly narrower than usual.

This disorder can seriously reduce the quality-of-life for your Frenchie, making it harder for them to exercise, tolerate heat, and breathe.

Luckily, there are many surgical procedures that are commonly performed at the same time your French Bulldog is spayed or neutered that can greatly improve the ability to breathe through the nose.

What causes stenotic nares? The nature of the genetics of brachycephalic breeds are the only cause of stenotic nares; they will not develop over your French Bulldog’s life.

Because they are hereditary and present at birth, the best way to avoid this would be to find a puppy bred with two parents that do not have severe stenotic nares.

How are stenotic nares treated? If your French Bulldog is suffering from stenotic nares, your veterinarian will most likely suggest performing a simple surgery to widen the nostrils at the same time as a spay or neuter.

 

BEFORE & AFTER

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse in French Bulldogs is a chronic, progressive disease of the trachea or “windpipe”. It is often caused by a chronic respiratory disease, Cushing’s disease, or heart disease. It can be present at birth or develop over time.

Symptoms of tracheal collapse are primarily

  • Honking cough
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Labored breathing
  • Bluish tinge to the gums

Tracheal collapse is a genetic condition, but it isn’t always present at birth. It can develop at any age, but the average age that it manifests is around six to seven years of age.

Treatment of tracheal collapse in French Bulldogs

What treatment options are available for a dog affected by tracheal collapse? Initially, your veterinarian will most likely start by prescribing medications such as:

  • Cough suppressants
  • Bronchodilators to make breathing easier
  • Corticosteroids to control inflammation
  • Antibiotics
  • Weight loss if overweight
    • Obesity can make breathing much more difficult for dogs.

In 71% of cases, these medications are able to successfully manage the symptoms of tracheal collapse.

If medication is not a successful treatment option for your Frenchie, there are surgical procedures that have shown a 75% to 85% success rate in dogs under the age of six.

These procedures consist of applying prosthetic rings to the outside of the trachea to support it. These surgeries are pretty pricey and can range anywhere from $3,500 to $6,500.

Heat Stress

french bulldog sleeping in the fridge

Heat stress in French Bulldogs is one of the most common conditions affecting the breed. Due to their smushed faces, they typically have a hard time breathing and regulating their body temperatures.

If you live in a hotter area, it’s even more important that you’re careful of heat stress in your French Bulldog.

If left untreated, heat stress can eventually lead to heat stroke.

Common causes of heat stress and heat stroke

  • Leaving your dog in the car on a hot day
  • Forgetting to provide shade when outdoors

Symptoms of heat stress in French Bulldogs

  • Excessive panting
  • Signs of discomfort
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blue or bright red gums

What should I do if my dog is overheated?

According to PetMD, these are some of the steps you should follow to treat an overheated dog.

Image result for french bulldog in pool

  1. Move to a cooler area; get indoors if you’re outside.
  2. Put your dog in the bathtub.
  3. Run a cool (not cold) shower over your pet, covering the whole body — especially the back of the head and neck.
  4. If you don’t have a tub, use a garden hose or small pool with cool water.
  5. Apply a cold pack to the dog’s head.
    1. A packet of frozen vegetables works fine.
  6. Massage the legs.
    1. A vigorous rubbing helps the dog’s circulation and reduces the risks of shock.
  7. Let the dog drink as much cool or cold water as it wants.
    1. Adding a pinch of salt to the water bowl will help the dog replace the minerals it lost through panting.

If your dog is exhibiting any signs of heat stroke, get immediate veterinary attention.

Signs of heat stroke in French Bulldogs

  • Glazed eyes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate refers to the soft tissue located at the back of the roof of the mouth. In dogs with an elongated soft palate, this tissue grows too long for the head and can block the entrance of the windpipe.

Elongated soft palate is part of the Brachycephalic Syndrome and many French Bulldogs are born with this issue. It can make breathing difficult for your French Bulldog.

Symptoms of Elongated Soft Palate

  • Difficulty or noisy breathing
  • Snoring
  • Snorting
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Bluish gums
  • Heat stroke
  • Exercise intolerance or collapse after exercise

Luckily for your Frenchie, there’s a simple surgical procedure that can be performed to remove the tissue blocking the airways. It only takes a few minutes to perform and does not require sutures. This procedure can usually be performed at the same time as a neuter or spay.

Laryngeal Collapse

The larynx, or voice box, protects the lungs for aspiration while swallowing, allows for barking & growling, and servers as a passage for airflow to the lungs.

Laryngeal collapse is a condition that happens when there is a loss of the rigidity and support for the laryngeal cartilage, causing the larynx, or voice box, to collapse. This leads to severe respiratory problems that make it hard for your dog to breathe in.

This condition usually develops in dogs older than two years of age, but can happen earlier in brachycephalic breeds such as the French Bulldog.

What causes laryngeal collapse in French Bulldogs? Laryngeal collapse usually develops as a complication to long-standing brachycephalic syndrome.

Brachycephalic syndrome can place a lot of strain on the respiratory system over the years so it’s crucial that you treat problems such as elongated soft palates, everted laryngeal saccules, and stenotic nares before they progress into something worse.

What can you do if your French Bulldog is suffering from laryngeal collapse? Luckily, there are many different treatments options depending on the severity of the laryngeal collapse.

Treatment of Mild Cases of Laryngeal Collapse

  • Shortening the elongated soft palate
  • Enlargement of the nostrils (stenotic nares)
  • Removal of excessive, obstructive tissues within the throat.

Treatment of Moderate to Severe Cases of Laryngeal Collapse

Portions of the collapsed cartilages may have to be surgically removed.

Treatment of Severe, Persistent Cases of Laryngeal Collapse

In severe cases, a permanent tracheostomy may be required.

Hemivertebrae

Hemivertebrae is a congenital (present at birth) condition of the spine. It refers to when the vertebrae of the spine are deformed and fuse or develop abnormally.

The “corkscrew” tail appearance on some bulldogs is caused by this condition

This abnormality creates a twisting wedge where the spine should be straight. This can result in twisting in the spinal cord and compression of the spinal cord.

Compression of the spinal cord is a serious condition as the spinal cord is the central nervous system structure; it can result in nerve impulses not able to transmit their signals to the final destination.

Luckily for most French Bulldogs with hemivertebrae, it doesn’t manifest with any symptoms.

Symptoms of a more severe case of hemivertebrae include

  • Weakness of the hind limbs
  • Inability to control urinary and bowel movements

Hemivertebrae can be diagnosed with a simple x-ray. More sophisticated imaging may be necessary to ensure that compression of the spinal cord isn’t present.

If your veterinarian decides that surgery is necessary, it can cost anywhere between $2,500 to $7,000 including the imaging.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

This is a condition in which the discs between the vertebrae in the spine bulge or herniate into the spinal cord space. These discs can press on nerves, causing pain, nerve damage, and paralysis.

What are the symptoms of Intervertebral Disc Disease?

  • Unwillingness to jump
  • Pain and weakness in the hind legs
  • Crying out in pain
  • Anxious behavior
  • Muscle spasms over back or neck
  • Hunched back or neck with tense muscles
  • Reduced appetite and activity level
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control

What causes Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs?

Damage to the discs in the spinal cord can be caused by forceful impacts such as jumping and landing.

Surgery to correct this can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $6,000.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy is a rare, progressive disease of the spinal cord that usually develops in older dogs between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. While French Bulldogs are actually less likely to develop this genetic problem when compared to other breeds, it is still a possibility.

Symptoms generally begin to manifest with a loss of coordination in the hind legs, progressing to buckling limbs and difficulty standing. It is a progressive disease, so it tends to get worse as time goes on.

Within 6 months to a year from the beginning of the onset of degenerative myelopathy, most dogs will become paralyzed in their hind legs. After this point, the dog may experience a lack of control over their bladder and bowel movements. Weakness will eventually develop in the front limbs.

What causes Degenerative Myelopathy?

Degenerative myelopathy is caused by degeneration of the white matter within the spinal cord. The white matter in the spinal cord contains fibers that transmit nerve signals for movements from the brain to the limbs.

Research has shown that a mutation in a gene is correlated with a higher risk of developing this disease. As of a 2013 study, this mutation is present in about 20% of French Bulldogs, but only 1% will be affected. Unfortunately, this number is expected to rise in the future and we may start seeing many more French Bulldogs affected by degenerative myelopathy as time goes on.

How is Degenerative Myelopathy Diagnosed?

Degenerative myelopathy is diagnosed once other causes of the weakness have been ruled out. Your veterinarian will most likely rule out herniated intervertebral disks, tumors, cysts, infections, injuries, and stroke.

There is no definitive testing available for diagnosing degenerative myelopathy; the only way to confirm the diagnosis is when an autopsy is performed and the spinal cord is examined.

What Treatment Options are Available for Degenerative Myelopathy

There are currently no available treatment options for dogs affected by degenerative myelopathy; nothing has shown evidence of stopping or slowing the progression of this disease.

There are a few ways that you can improve the quality of life for dogs affected by degenerative myelopathy

  • Nursing care
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Pressure sore prevention
  • Monitoring for urinary infections
  • Use of harnesses and carts to increase mobility

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap, or patella, is dislocated, or luxated, from its normal position.

This is a genetic disorder in which the kneecap becomes dislocated from its original location in the femur. Unlike hip dysplasia and other disorders, there are currently no known ways to prevent patellar luxation.

Fortunately, a dog will only feel pain the moment the joint is dislocated; after that, they rarely experience any pain.

Symptoms of patellar luxation

If your French Bulldog is showing any signs of patellar luxation, talk to your veterinarian about it.

  • Prolonged abnormal hindlimb movement
  • Occasional skipping
  • Hindlimb lameness
  • Sudden lameness

Treatment of patellar luxation

Luckily for Frenchies affected by patellar luxation, surgery has shown to be extremely effective even in the most severe of cases. In 90% of cases, original function will be restored and discomfort alleviated.

The surgical procedure for patellar luxation usually consists of fastening the kneecap on the outside of the bone to prevent it from sliding toward the inside.

What causes Patellar Luxation in French Bulldogs?

Patellar luxation is caused by a genetic malformation or trauma to the knee.

It can be corrected by surgery that has shown positive results in stopping dysfunction in 90% of cases, although, there is a high risk for recurrence (48%)

Entropion

Entropion is a hereditary disorder of the eyelids. Entropion is an abnormality in which the eyelid “rolls” inward, causing the hair on the surface of the eyelid to rub against the cornea.

Unfortunately, brachycephalic breeds such as French Bulldogs are much more likely to develop entropion.

Image result for french bulldog entropion

Symptoms of Entropion in French Bulldogs

  • Eye redness
  • Inner eye inflammation
  • Excess tears

It’s crucial that you get this treated as soon as possible; if left untreated, entropion can cause hairs on the surface of the eyelid to run against the cornea causing pain, corneal ulcers, or corneal erosions. The damage can result in corneal scarring which can interfere with vision.

Treatment of Entropion in French Bulldogs

In most cases, the abnormality will have to be surgically corrected by removing a section of skin from the affected eyelid.

There will be a first, major surgical procedure performed to correct the entropion. This surgery is usually followed by a second, minor corrective surgery to reduce the risk of over-correcting the entropion.

Distichiasis

Distichiasis is hereditary disorder in which an eyelash arises from an abnormal location on the eyelid or one that grows in an abnormal direction.

Symptoms of distichiasis

  • Eye inflammation
  • Eye discharge
  • Eye pain
  • Cornea ulcers
  • Excessive tearing
  • Excessive blinking or squinting
  • Your Frenchie might also keep the eye tightly closed or paw at the eye

If your French Bulldog is exhibiting some of the symptoms above, they may be suffering from distichiasis. It’s important that you seek veterinary attention as soon as possible to prevent damage to the eye.

If left untreated, distichiasis can lead to:

  • Irritation
  • Pain
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Bacterial infections
  • Blindness
  • Loss of the eye

In chronic cases of distichiasis in French Bulldogs, they may develop corneal scarring (white areas on the cornea), hyperpigmentation (dark areas on the cornea), or abnormal formation of blood vessels on the surface of the corneal, also known as neovascularization.

Diagnosis of Distichiasis

Your veterinarian will perform an exhaustive eye examination to diagnose distichiasis. These tests consist of measuring tear production, checking the intraocular pressure within the eye, and evaluating the level of fluid in the eye. Further tests may be required in some cases.

Treatment of Distichiasis

In most cases, the distichiae will have to be surgically removed. Surgery is extremely effective in treating diastasis, however, multiple surgeries may be required over your dog’s lifetime. The procedure can be performed when your dog has reached their adult size.

It’s important that you don’t put off the surgery as it can damage the eye, resulting in permanent visual deficits.

Cataracts

french bulldog cataracts

Cataracts refer to the cloudiness in the lens of the eye. The cloudiness can range from complete to partial opacity.

Cataracts are a progressive disorder and can lead to blindness if not treated quickly. In cases where cataracts are caused by diabetes, they progress even quicker.

Symptoms of cataracts

  • Vision impairment
    • Little to no loss of vision
    • Loss of vision or difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas

Causes of cataracts

  • Diabetes
  • Old age
  • Electric shock
  • Inflammation of the uvea (the pigmented layer of the eye)
  • Abnormally low levels of calcium in the blood
  • Exposure to radiation or toxic substances

If you observe cloudiness in any of your dog’s eyes, you should seek a veterinarian immediately.

Surgery for cataracts has shown more than a 90% success rate. After the procedure, it will take some time for your Frenchie to recover from the operation in the hospital. You will also need to apply eye drops for several weeks following the operation.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) is a congenital, chronic bleeding disorder that is similar to Hemophilia in humans. It is caused by a deficiency of an adhesive glycoprotein in the blood required for normal platelet binding (clotting).

Symptoms of Von Willebrand’s Disease

According to PetMD, some of the symptoms of Von Willebrand’s Disease are

  • Nosebleeds
  • Blood in the feces
  • Bloody urine
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Excessive bleeding from the vagina
  • Bruising of the skin
  • Prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma
  • Blood loss anemia if there is prolonged bleeding.

In dogs affected by Von Willebrand’s Disease, their blood won’t clot well. This can lead to excessive bleeding following an injury.

Mild to moderate vWD usually doesn’t affect the quality-of-life nor require any special treatment.

In severe cases, your Frenchie may require a blood transfusion prior to surgery and for uncontrollable bleeding episodes. Their activity must be monitored and limited to prevent bleeding.

Cleft Palate

french bulldog cleft palate

Cleft palates in French Bulldogs is a genetic disorder that is commonly seen in brachycephalic breeds. It is characterized by an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth. During embryonic development, the two sides of the palate (roof of the mouth) fail to come together and fuse. This results in an opening between the nasal passages and the mouth.

Symptoms of a French Bulldog with a cleft palate

  • A runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by milk and food contents entering the cleft and infecting the lungs)
  • Respiratory difficulty (caused by aspiration pneumonia)
  • Difficulty sucking and nursing (for puppies)
  • Slow growth
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite

Surgery to correct a cleft palate can be performed when puppies are 3-4 months old. It usually requires more than one operation to completely close the opening.

Thyroid conditions

The thyroid is a gland in your dog’s neck that produces the hormone thyroxine (T4) along with various other hormones.

These hormones play a huge role in your dog’s metabolism and can cause major problems if they’re not produced at normal levels.

The thyroid is like the thermostat of the body.

Hypothyroidism

When hypothyroidism in French Bulldogs occurs when your dog isn’t secreting enough of the thyroid hormones.

Hypothyroidism causes your dog’s metabolism to slow down, which can result in the following symptoms

Symptoms of hypothyroidism in French Bulldogs

  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Mental dullness
  • Weight gain without a change in appetite
  • Obesity
  • Cold intolerance
  • Changes in coat and skin, like increased shedding, hair thinning, and hair loss
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Reproductive disturbances in intact dogs

Hypothyroidism generally responds well to medication.

Hyperthyroidism

Hypothyroidism in French Bulldogs occurs when your dog’s body produces too much thyroid hormone. It can increase the metabolic rate to dangerous levels.

While this is quite rare in dogs, it’s commonly seen in cats. When it does affect dogs, it is usually very severe.

Thyroid cancer is the primary cause of hyperthyroidism in dogs.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in French Bulldogs

  • Weight loss
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • An increased amount of stool
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • Heart murmurs
  • Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart)
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)

Goiters

Goiters are a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid caused by genetic defects. They can also be caused by an iodine deficiency

Goiters can be a symptom of congenital hypothyroidism.

They appear more alarming than they actually are.

Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Autoimmune thyroiditis occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. It can also be a symptom of another disorder such a systemic lupus erythematosus.

How can I prevent genetic problems?

With the recent rise in popularity of the Frenchie, there have been many breeders popping up looking to make a quick buck by breeding French Bulldogs without much care about their quality of life.

It’s important that you find a reputable, ethical breeder when looking for a French Bulldog puppy to minimize the chances of having a French Bulldog with preventable genetic diseases.

There are many inexperienced, unethical breeders that often have little to no regard for the health of the pups they’re breeding and many of them can suffer from preventable genetic diseases.

Just because a breeder is AKC certified doesn’t always mean they’re a reputable, trusted breeder.

You should obtain proof of family history that shows there are no genetic health problems in their blood. The family history should go at least 5 generations back.

Consider Investing in Pet Insurance

The average cost for pet insurance ranges anywhere from as low as $10 to higher than $100. When it comes to French Bulldogs, investing in pet insurance is definitely a smart decision.

The cost of coverage usually is based on your Frenchie’s age, current health, and level of coverage you want. There may be exclusions for pre-existing conditions or health conditions that are not covered due to it being a common problem of the breed.

We recommend to insure your pet as early as possible; preferably when they’re less than a year old. You want to get insurance before any hereditary conditions manifest their symptoms and you’ll miss out on coverage.

What does pet insurance not cover?

This may differ depending on what insurance company you go through, but most insurances don’t cover the following:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Examination fees
  • Preventative cares
  • Annual check-ups
  • Vaccinations
  • Spay/neuter procedures
  • Teeth cleaning

What does pet insurance cover?

Well, that depends on the type of policy that you choose. Here’s a list of the different types of policies to help you make your decision on what best fits your needs.

Depending on your level of coverage, you may be covered for the following:

  • Illnesses
  • Accidents
  • Hereditary Conditions
  • Congenital Conditions
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Diagnostic Treatment
  • X-Rays
  • Blood Tests
  • Ultrasounds
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization
  • Prescription Medications
  • Emergency Care
  • Specialty Care
  • Alternative Treatment

Accident-only Policies

This is generally the cheapest policy available. An accident-only policy would cover emergency illnesses from an accident such as poisoning or other freak-accident injuries.

Time-limited policies

Time-limited policies are one of the other cheaper options. As its name implies, there is a maximum amount per condition that is limited by a specified duration of time.

The limit would be placed on the condition; after the limit has been reached, no further payouts will be made.

Maximum benefit policies

If you’d like greater coverage and peace-of-mind without breaking the bank, a maximum benefit policy is a great option.

A maximum benefit policy will cover up to a maximum amount with no time limit on how long you can make a claim for.

Once you reach your maximum payout amount, you will not be able to make any more claims.

While this may be a great option depending on your needs, it may not provide complete coverage for ongoing illnesses that require medication over your French Bulldog’s lifetime.

Lifetime policies

This is the most expensive policy that offers the most exhaustive coverage. Your Frenchie will be covered throughout its lifetime for any illness, injury, or other vet expenses.

You will be given a set amount of coverage to pay for vet fees which will renew annually. If you reach your maximum payout before the year ends, you’ll be on the hook for vet expenses until your coverage renews.

While this is the most expensive policy, it’s sure to offer the most peace-of-mind. Some of the health issues that I’ve listed here such as hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease require surgeries that cost thousands of dollars.

While we hope that our Frenchies never suffer from any of these health issues, you can never say anything for sure. Pet insurance is a great way to save yourself from possibly paying thousands of dollars in the event of an emergency or other illness.

Pet Insurance Companies

There are many different pet insurance companies that offer a variety of policies.

  • Figo
  • Healthy Paws
  • Trupanion
  • Pets Best
  • Petplan U.S.
  • Embrace
  • AKC Pet Healthcare
  • ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

 


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