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French bulldog Health Problems
Stocky in nature, these lovable canines seamlessly tops the bulldog breed popularity chart. So popular is this breed that it is currently high on the list of the most popular canines all over the world. What is more? The friendly and goofy nature of this compact canine has made it a favorite among families with kids.
As much as we’d love to wish our Frenchies came with no flaws, the fact is; Frenchies are canines, and like other canines, these small, squishy-faced pets, comes with some particular and sometimes severe health conditions owners and breeders alike should know about.
Exactly what do you know about your Frenchie’s health?
According to a revealing study carried out by the Royal Veterinary College, this breed is prone to myriads of health issues. The study further disclosed that 72.4% of French bulldogs used in the study suffered from at least one of the stated conditions.
Most of these conditions have been passed down from generation to generation and deep-rooted in their genes. While hereditary conditions in French bulldogs cannot be completely eliminated or wished away, creating awareness on these conditions can help canine owners and breeders better understand their pet and tackle these issues when they appear and in the long run, ensure these furry companions stand a better chance at life.
Average Lifespan Of The French Bulldog
In spite of the common health problems associated with the French Bulldogs, they remain some of the best breeds to own. On average, Frenchies can live between 10 – 12 years old. True, in their lifetime, at least one of these health issues may occur but there are certain things owners/breeders like you can do to prolong and enhance your canine’s health.
They include: Taking your Frenchie in for regular checkups with the vet – very crucial!
Regularly feeding it a balanced and suitable diet to provide all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong.
Although Frenchies suffer from a number of breathing issues, they enjoy short walks.
However, ensure the walks are done in the evenings or early mornings as they are unable to cope in extreme weather because of their brachycephalic issues. Additionally, remember to use a comfortable harness so your pet does not strain its body or breathe while at it.
Regular vaccinations against more common canine issues like distemper, parvovirus, and canine cough among others. For optimum dental health, regular dental care is particularly essential for smaller breeds like your Frenchie as they are very susceptible to dental issues. Consciously putting effort into its care will ensure your delicate Frenchie lives the best life it can.
Common French Bulldog Health Problems
Note; this is not a full list. A full list of ailments would include all identified canine health issues because Frenchies are canines and are therefore prone to virtually every recorded disorder present in canines. That said, the ailments/disorders listed below are some of the most common ailments found in French bulldogs. This should help Frenchie owners and breeders better understand some specifics about the Frenchie ailments, its symptoms, and management.
1. Intervertebral Disc Disease
Considered a member of the dwarf breeds of dogs, the sturdy Frenchie it at a higher risk of suffering from a herniated disc. Damages can occur in the nerves when cartilages between each disc push more together.
Some signs of this condition may include whimpering, loss of bowel control, stumbling, trembling, pain when jumping or walking around for long periods of time. Diagnosis may be from a simple x-ray or CT scan. Early discovery can help ensure your pet is cared for accordingly and that it gets all the necessary comfort to properly manage the condition.
2. Laryngeal Collapse
French Bulldogs may be some of the most level-headed canines out there but they can be loud when the need arises. Frenchies will bark in excitement or when they need your attention on something or warn you about a threat you may fail to notice. This common activity can sometimes cause some severe issues for the Frenchie.
Laryngeal collapse can occur when there is a loss of rigidity and support for the laryngeal cartilage, thus, causing the larynx (voice box) to collapse. This may eventually lead to severe respiratory issues that can make breathing hard for your canine. Commonly, this condition may occur in older dogs above two years of age.
However, in brachycephalic breeds, like the Frenchie, it can occur earlier.
In French bulldogs, laryngeal collapse is commonly a result of the lifelong brachycephalic syndrome they suffer from.
This brachycephalic issue places Frenchies’ respiratory system under so much strain as they grow older, so treating issues such as stenotic nares, laryngeal collapse, and elongated soft palates is extremely important before the worsen and completely jeopardize your canine’s health.
How can the laryngeal collapse be treated?
Fortunately, like most other conditions listed in this article, the condition can be corrected through the following ways:
Enlargement of the nostrils
Shortening of the elongated soft palate
In severe cases, surgical removal of some portions of the collapsed cartilages may be performed or permanent tracheostomy may be recommended by your vet in the more extreme case.
3. Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome
Remember how that squishy, cute little face of his made you fall in love at first sight? Well, here’s something that isn’t so cute: the same face places your adorable Frenchie at the risk of brachycephalic-related respiratory issues.
This leads to breathing difficulties and snoring for Frenchies, and in more severe cases, it could cause them to tire easier compared to many other breeds.
Also, they have a poor tolerance for heat and stress. While other breeds of canine weary out after exercises like running, they often cool their temperature by panting.
For Frenchies, it is a different narrative entirely. Frenchies have to spend double the period it takes for most other breeds to cool down because of their brachycephalic issues. As they pant, the air passing through causes their throats to become inflamed.
This can be distressing for the canine but you can minimize the occurrence by trying as much as possible to avoid or reduce stressing-inducing activities like running, long works or energy depleting games.
4. Hip Dysplasia
The hip consists of the pelvic sockets (acetabulum) and the ball of the femur (femoral head), and regarded as a ball-in-socket joint, allowing for a 360 rotation movement.
What causes hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia occurs when the femoral head of the long bone (ball) leaves its original home in the socket of the pelvis. This condition causes a malfunction of the hip leading to visible signs and symptoms like pain, walking impediments and weakness.
As hip dysplasia is common in overweight Frenchies, the solution can sometimes be as easy as keeping your pet trim and healthy through diet and exercises.
If you suspect hip dysplasia, you should consult a vet immediately. Diagnosis of this condition is usually made through an X-ray, CT scan or an invasive procedure. Commonly, treatment is determined by the actual diagnosis and gravity of the condition.
In cameras, the most important pieces are the lenses. The lenses enable you to capture images. When these lenses are covered, it is impossible to see anything. In Frenchies; cataracts obstruct the eye lenses and can be a result of some factors; hereditary, age or trauma to the eye area.
It may start slowly, obstructing only parts of the eyes and can over time lead to complete blindness. In some cases, owners may be advised to opt for surgery by depending on the severity of the condition, health, and age of the pet.
A cataract can be identified as a light blue ball on the outer portion of the pet’s eyeballs.
Contact a vet if you notice one on your dog’s eye. While surgery may be recommended by some vets, some others may choose to observe the cataract for some time but as with cataracts generally, surgical removal will be required eventually.
6. Patellar Luxation
Your Frenchie like most dwarf muscly breeds with lean legs stands at a higher risk of developing a luxated patella. This a condition where a kneecap moves out of place and if your French bulldog engages in exercises like jumping and running frequently, it could be placing a lot more strain on the knees as time goes on.
This can, however, be corrected with physiotherapy arranged by your vet and depending on the severity of the condition.
Hereditary deafness is passed on from parents to offspring and can be detected in the early stages of the canine’s life. Deafness may be suspected when he fails to respond to calls and warnings from other dogs or its owner.
It is not uncommon to find the affected canine regularly experiencing an undisturbed period of sleep as its ears are shut to the events around.
To diagnose deafness, veterinarians specializing in neuroscience conduct the Baer test where the brain’s response to sound is detected from auscultated sounds.
There is currently no known cure for deafness but the condition can somehow be salvaged with specialized training to aid your dog’s communication.
This is a congenital defect where the vertebra is deformed. In most scenarios, the vertebrae can appear abnormally wedge-shaped or two or more vertebrae are fused causing a twist in the spine.
In French bulldogs, the curve from the condition may look cute in the tail area but if the condition is present in the spine, it could cause compression of the spinal cord.
When this happens, the nerves running through are usually unable to receive signals from the brain when pressure is placed on the spine.
Signs of this condition may include; weakness to the hind limbs, bowel control issues, and pain.
Some cases of Hemivertebrae may not require treatment.
The resulting pain from the condition can be managed with anti-inflammatory medications. In cases where the condition affects the spinal nerves, a surgical procedure – hemilaminectomy will be required.
Hypothyroidism in French bulldogs can occur when the canine’s thyroid glands produce insufficient thyroid hormones.
This disorder slows down your dog’s metabolism, and can result in the following symptoms; mental dullness, lethargy, weight gain, obesity, reproductive disturbance, cold intolerance increased shedding, fur thinning and thickening of the skin.
If you notice any of the symptoms above in your Frenchie, consult your vet immediately. Luckily, however, hypothyroidism in French bulldogs responds well to treatment.
10. Cherry Eye
Canines have upper, lower and corner eyelids. The third eyelid called the nictitating membrane protects the dog’s eye.
When a dog suffers from Cherry eyes, the nictitating membrane protrudes from behind the third eyelid as a red mass and is often a result of orbital pressure from infection, weakness of surrounding muscles and inflammation.
Treatment is primarily by the removal of the underlying cause of protrusion. While the condition on its own may not be painful to dogs, the exposed gland can easily be infected.
To correct this, a surgical replacement of the gland may be needed if the gland cannot be repositioned. This can be a relatively painless procedure but it can lead to dry eyes later in life.
11. Stenotic Nares
Stenotic nares are basically names for the brachycephalic breeds’ narrow nostrils. All brachycephalic dogs are born with smaller than usual muzzles with really narrow openings. As a result, brachycephalic breeds like the Frenchies predisposed to a number of breathing difficulties like snorting, snoring and quick exhaustion during activities.
Exhaustion and panting in canines are normal even though Frenchies tend to pant more but if your canine’s condition worsens to the point where regular activities become too challenging, surgery will likely be needed to broaden the nostrils.
Finally, despite these health conditions, French bulldogs are still some of the toughest and healthiest breeds in the Bulldog family. If you are buying a Frenchie for the first time, ensure your preferred breeder provides a certification that the puppy’s parent has been screened for some common hereditary issues.
You can check for the health of your Frenchie’s parent on the canine health registries. Dogs on the registries are expected to have had clearance from organizations specialized foundations/agencies for animal health.
A breeder is expected to agree to all tests published on those sites; whether positive or negative.
In spite of all these, there is no guarantee that your Frenchie will be completely free of hereditary disorders but carefully making your findings before purchase and regular visits to the vet even after you bring Frenchie home can go a long way in ensuring your Frenchie stays as healthy as possible.