Frenchie Joint Care Guide

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French Bulldog Joint Care Guide

You might already know that Frenchies are predisposed to a wide variety of health issues — joint problems are one of the more common ones.

Some common French Bulldog joint problems include…

Despite Frenchies’ increased risk of joint problems when compared to other breeds, there are still many ways that you can reduce their risk of developing joint issues.

By catching joint issues early in their course, you can slow down their progression and increase your Frenchie’s quality-of-life.

This article will explain the types of joint issues, what signs to look for, managing pre-existing joint disorders, as well as some tips on how to minimize strain on their joints.

French Bulldog Joint Care Overview

SymptomsCausesPrevention
LethargyGeneticsAvoid jumping on/off high surfaces
Lameness of a limbExcessive growthReduce strain on hind legs
LimpingUnhealthy physical activityMaintain healthy weight
IrritableObesityDon’t play too rough
Hesitant to jump up on couch or climb stairsMalnutritionNutritious diet

French Bulldog Joint Supplements

There are a few well-known supplements that are highly recommended. They include ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oils.

  1. Glucosamine
  2. Chondroitin
  3. Fish oils (great for reducing inflammation)

5 Tips for Preventing French Bulldog Joint Issues

The key to preventing joint problems for your Frenchie is by reducing the strain placed on their joints.

  1. Avoid jumping off of high surfaces
  2. Reducing strain on hind legs
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Don’t play too rough
  5. A nutritious diet

You play a big role

You can’t really control your Frenchie’s genetics, however, you can control the level and frequency of their strenuous activities.

It’s important to learn what is okay and what is not for them to do…

For example, jumping off of a 1.5-2ft high surface like a bed a few times is unlikely to cause immediate harm, however, doing this daily for years is a recipe for disaster.

1. Avoid jumping off of high surfaces

I know it can be hard to stop your Frenchie from launching themselves into the air off of your bed or couch, however, it’s ideal to pick them up and set them down on the floor.

Training your Frenchie to not jump off of high surfaces is easier said than done… for me, it’s been pretty much impossible.

It’s hard to stop your Frenchie

When my Frenchie gets excited, there’s no stopping her from doing anything.

A knock at the door or another dog barking outside and she’s leaped off the bed in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I can catch her before she does, but that’s on a lucky day.

What might work

The solution for me is to use some sort of a platform (chair or footrest) or dog-stairs.

If you’re in a pinch, a chair will work temporarily — it cuts the height off the floor in half, but it’s by no means perfect as they’ll still be about a foot or so off the ground.

Puppy Stairs

The best solution — the one I’ve been using — is puppy stairs.

They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes… and they’re quite the luxury for your pup.

Protect your Frenchie's Joints
Why should your Frenchie jump when they can simply walk up some stairs?

My Frenchie was quick to love the staircases I’ve placed around my home — who doesn’t love taking the path of least resistance?

2. Reducing strain on hind legs

Avoid holding a ball up in the air so that they jump up for it — when they land on their hind legs, it puts a lot of stress on their joints.

As cute as it is, you don’t want to hold up a toy so they’re “standing” like a human either… they walk on four-legs for a reason!

They’re not meant to be in a “standing” position for long periods of time.

3. Proper diet

The Essentials to a Healthy Diet

  • Avoid feeding them table scraps
  • Make sure the food is formulated for their current life stage (puppy, adult, senior, etc.)

4. Maintain a healthy weight

I could go on for hours about the benefits of keeping your Frenchie a healthy weight.

As mentioned earlier, obesity is one of those preventable environmental factors that can accelerate any joint issues’ progression.

5. Don’t play too rough

My Frenchie is always pushing her limits… sometime

Many vets agree that dogs have a lower sensitivity to pain than us humans, however, that does not mean their joints are any more resilient to injury

Types of Joint Issues

In dogs, there are two categories of joint issues: development and degenerative.

Developmental joint issues such as hip dysplasia are much more common in Frenchies due to their narrow hips

  1. Developmental Joint Problems
  2. Degenerative Joint Problems
  3. Joint Trauma

1. Developmental Joint Problems

These types of joint issues arise when there is abnormal development of the joint.

They are not always present at birth, however, genetics can predispose your Frenchie to developing these issues.

French Bulldogs are notorious for hereditary joint issues such as hip dysplasia...

By carefully selecting a breeder and finding one that selectively breeds out these joint issues, you can lower the risk of having to deal with any of these issues.

With that being said, nothing is ever a guarantee, and even the dogs with the best genetics can go on to develop joint issues.

Types of Developmental Joint Problems

2. Degenerative Joint Problems

These joint problems are degenerative and progress over time.

Types of Degenerative Joint Problems

  • Cruciate ligament problems
  • Arthritis

3. Joint Trauma

While some dogs might be at a higher risk of joint trauma, it can happen to any dog.

Your dog can even get hurt just jumping on & off of the bed!

My Frenchie has a luxating patella and the vet told us that she needs to stop jumping up onto the bed and other high places.

She uses the stairs all the time nowadays.

Symptoms of Joint Problems

The signs of joint problems in dogs are a bit different than you’d expect.

Pain is not always the first sign, as dogs have pretty high pain tolerances.

Watch for these signs

  • Lethargy or moving slower than usual
  • Difficulty performing normal activities
  • Hesitant to jump on the couch, climb stairs, etc. (Any activity that didn’t cause any trouble in the past)
  • Lameness of limb or holding limb up
  • Loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine
  • Limping
  • More irritable than normal
  • Sleeping more
  • Very slow to get up in the morning
  • Pain

What causes Joint Problems in French Bulldogs?

When it comes to the cause of all any joint issues, there are two main components: genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

  • Genetic predisposition
    • Is a factor in the rate and progression of joint disorders
    • Some joint problems can be eliminated from the gene pool through selective breeding.
  • Environmental factors
  • Excessive growth
  • Strenuous/improper/unhealthy exercise
  • Obesity
  • Nutritional factors

Treatments for Joint Issues

TreatmentSupplementsMedications
Physical TherapyGlucosamineAnti-inflammatory
SupplementsChondroitinPain relievers
MedicationFish oilsMuscle relaxers
Surgery  

Fortunately, there are many treatments for joint issues available to help improve your Frenchie’s quality-of-life… and they’re not all surgery!

  1. Physical Therapy
  2. Medication
  3. Surgery

Surgery is often a Last-Resort

In fact, surgery is pretty much always considered a last-resort… physical therapy is great at helping strengthen those muscles that support the joints to reduce the strain placed on these joints.

1. Physical Therapy

For Frenchies that have mild joint issues or those that were caught early in their progression, physical therapy is the go-to treatment.

Forms of Physical Therapy

  1. Manual therapy
  2. Hydrotherapy
  3. Thermotherapy (heat packs)
  4. Cryotherapy (ice packs)
  5. Lasers
  6. Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF)
  7. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
  8. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  9. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)

2. Medication

Your vet may prescribe your Frenchie any of the following to help with their joint issues…

  1. Anti-inflammatory drugs
  2. Pain medication
  3. Muscle relaxers

3. Surgery

If other treatments fail, your vet might recommend surgery as an option to cure/improve their joint issues.