The French bulldog is a popular breed known for its large eyes, perky ears, and playful personality. Frenchies are gregarious, energetic animals that love people and get along well with other pets. But like many purebred dogs, they are prone to a few health problems of which owners should be aware.
Common Health Issues in French Bulldogs:
Allergies. Like other snub-nosed (or “brachycephalic”) breeds, French bulldogs are at an increased risk for allergies. The list of potential allergens is long and can include inhaled allergens (such as tree and grass pollen, mold spores, dust, feathers, smoke, and perfumes), contact allergens (such as detergents, fabrics, cleaning products, and shampoos), and some foods or medicines.
Signs that your French bulldog may have an allergy include itchy or irritated skin, runny eyes, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, snoring (from throat inflammation), and swollen paws. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, make an appointment with your vet’s office. They may be able to help determine which agent(s) are responsible for your pet’s symptoms.
Conjunctivitis. Commonly known as pinkeye, conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the outer layer of the eyeball and is common in both humans and pets. Frenchies are particularly prone to pinkeye, which often causes red or swollen-looking eyes and a sticky discharge from the affected area. Pinkeye could be caused by environmental irritants, chronic dry eye, or by a more serious underlying condition such as canine distemper.
If your Frenchie shows symptoms of pinkeye, a visit to the vet is recommended. If bacterial infection is suspected, your vet can prescribe antibiotics, or if an allergy is the suspected cause, your vet can help identify the allergen responsible.
Deafness. French bulldogs are at greater risk for deafness than other breeds. Hearing loss may be complete, starting from birth, or may develop gradually. If you suspect your Frenchie is suffering from congenital deafness, your vet can perform something called a brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test. The BAER test is a quick (10-15 min) noninvasive test that uses electrodes to evaluate the ear canal, inner ear, and cranial nerve and brainstem function.
As in humans, some instances of deafness in dogs may be addressed using cochlear implants. If your Frenchie is diagnosed with congenital deafness, ask your vet about available treatment options. The incidence of congenital deafness in French bulldogs has shown to be related to the animal’s coloring—with white Frenchies being at greatest risk for deafness.
Hip Dysplasia. Another condition common in French bulldogs is hip dysplasia—a condition in which the ball-and-socket joints of the hips are improperly formed, resulting in a laxness in the tendons holding the femur in place. Hip dysplasia is progressive, and if untreated can lead to decreased mobility, inability to jump or climb stairs, reluctance to exercise, and difficulty standing.
Treatment for hip dysplasia may include physical therapy and aquatherapy, as well as dietary changes aimed at controlling obesity. If you suspect that your Frenchie is suffering from hip dysplasia, see your vet for a complete evaluation and advice on treatment options. In severe cases, surgery to repair or replace the hip joint itself may be necessary.
Heat Stress. Like several snub-nosed breeds, French bulldogs are prone to heat exhaustion. Snub-nosed breeds like the Frenchie and the Pug typically have a harder time breathing and regulating body temperature than do their long-snouted relatives.
For this reason, extra caution should be taken not to expose your animal to prolonged periods of extreme heat. Never leave your pet in a hot car, and if you plan to be outdoors with your pet, always provide a place with ample shade and water for your animal to relax. Signs of heat stress include excessive panting, blue or bright red gums, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, convulsions. If your pet displays any of these symptoms, get your animal to a cool place and call your vet at once.
Editor’s Note: Flat-faced dog breeds—like French bulldogs and Boston Terriers—have unique breathing challenges when it comes to exercising. Here are tips on safely exercising your flat-faced dog.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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