Caring For Flat-Faced Dogs
With their short snouts and expressive eyes, who can resist the charms of those highly recognizable brachycephalic breeds? Not many of us, it seems, since breeds such as the French bulldog, English and American bulldog, and boxer have been steadily growing in popularity over the past decade.
As delightful as flat-faced dogs are, it is essential for pet parents to recognize that the characteristic facial and snout shape of these breeds may result in a range of health concerns that need the expert attention of veterinarians with experience caring for these breeds.
At Vet4HealthyPet Animal Hospital, our bulldog specialists offer the services your bulldog or brachycephalic dog needs to restore and maintain problem-free breathing, optimal weight and great overall health – now and well into old age.
Breeds Our Orange Vets Specialize In
French bulldogs are our specialty at Vet4HealthyPet Animal Hospital, but we proudly provide targeted care for bullies and brachycephalic breeds of all sizes including American and English bulldogs, boxers, shih tzus, Boston terriers, mastiffs, and pugs.
Breed Specific Health Concerns
French bulldogs and other breeds that share the characteristic features of the brachycephalic family face an increased risk of a number of serious health concerns across their lifetime.
Some of the most common health problems our veterinarians see in these breeds include the following:
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS)
BAS is a very serious condition in all brachycephalic breeds caused by a combination of a long soft palate that leads to windpipe obstruction, and narrow nostrils that result in restricted breathing through the nose.
Carrying excess weight can also exacerbate this condition which is why it is essential to help your French bulldog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
Signs of BAS in dogs include snoring, noisy breathing, reluctance to exercise, heat intolerance, dry heaving, and vomiting.
If your pup has brachycephalic airway syndrome our experienced team at Vet4HealthyPet can work with you to determine the best way to help your pup breathe well .
Our four-legged friends are unable to sweat the way humans do. Instead they rely on panting as a way to cool themselves off and reduce their body temperature.
Frenchies and other brachycephalic breeds often struggle to pant effectively, making heat stroke a very serious threat to their health and longevity.
Help to protect you pup against heat stroke by keeping a watchful eye on them whenever it's warm outside. If the weather is hot keep your pup cool indoors as much as possible and avoid exercise.
Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, bright red or blue gums, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing signs of heatstroke.
- Skin Fold Dermatitis
Your bulldog's adorable wrinkles are no double one of the key attributes that drew you to the breed and made you fall in love with your Frenchie, yet those characteristic skin folds often lead to an uncomfortable skin condition called skin fold dermatitis.
Signs of skin fold dermatitis include excessive itching, scratching and biting at the irritated area. Your dog may also develop inflamed red skin and sores.
Keeping your pup's wrinkles clean and dry can go a long way to preventing skin fold dermatitis from developing but often isn't enough. Speak to your veterinarian for guidance on how you can help your pup avoid this condition, and available treatment options.
Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that causes small pustules form on the dog's skin. These raised red bumps have a white pus-filled center and are often accompanied by dry flaky skin, hair loss and itchiness.
Treatment for pyoderma can include antibiotics combined with topical sprays, ointments or shampoo.
To determine the right treatment for your pups skin infection your veterinarian may recommend further laboratory testing such as a skin culture or skin cytology.
Allergies are another common health concern in French bulldogs and other sensitive breeds.
If your pup is suffering from allergies you may notice symptoms such as itching or licking excessively at a specific body part (especially the paws), rashes or inflamed skin patches, watery eyes, cold like symptoms and signs of tummy upset including abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea.
It is essential to pinpoint the cause of your dog's allergic reaction in order to determine the best treatment for your bulldog's allergies. Medications, environmental changes and dietary alterations may be a part of your pup's allergy treatment.
- Ear Infections
French bulldogs often have smaller, more narrow ear canals than other dogs leading to an increased risk of ear infections caused by excessive yeast and bacteria growth.
Head shaking, ear scratching, redness inside the ear and an excess wax buildup are all signs that your pup may have an ear infection.
Treatment of ear infections should begin as soon as possible and continue until the prescribed treatment has been fully completed. Ending treatment early can lead to a reinfection that is more challenging to treat, or recurring ear infections.
To help your bulldog avoid ear infections be sure to keep your Frenchies ears clean and dry. Our veterinarians in Orange CA specialize in the care of French bulldogs and are always happy to teach pet parents how to care for their dog's ears.
- Eye Conditions
Your Frenchie's big beautiful eyes need to be cared for to remain healthy and comfortable.
Conditions such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), cherry eye, distichia (eyelashes on the eyelid edge that scratch and irritate the eye) and oversized eyelid openings (making blinking effectively more difficult) are all common in flat-faced breeds.
Early treatment and proper eye care for your bulldog's eyes can help to keep your pups eyes moist and comfortable while helping to preserve their vision.
If you are concerned about the health of your French bulldog's eyes contact your vet right away to book an urgent examination.
- Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition that typically goes undiagnosed until the dog reaches middle age or older. In this condition the ball and socket structure of the hip is incorrectly formed leading to painful rubbing and grinding as the dog moves.
Reluctance to climb stairs or jump up, bunny hopping, difficulty standing and signs of hip pain are all common symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs.
Once painful symptoms of hip dysplasia become evident orthopedic surgery may be required to help restore your dog's pain free mobility.
To help reduce the risk of your bulldog developing painful symptoms associated with hip dysplasia speak to your vet about the appropriate level of exercise for your pup, and how best to help your dog maintain a healthy weight.
- Patella Luxation
Patella luxation is a knee condition seen in many small dogs including French bulldogs.
At the end of your pup's thigh bone there is a small groove that houses your dog's kneecap. In dogs suffering from patella luxation the kneecap periodically pops out of the groove and moves around, leading your dog to hop or miss a step before returning to normal walking when the kneecap is back in place.
This condition is diagnosed in degrees of severity. Many dogs live a good quality of life while having this condition however, arthritis can develop around the area as the dog ages, making the knee painful. In more severe cases surgery may be required to prevent the kneecap from becoming permanently displaced.
If you think that your dog might be experiencing patella luxation speak to your vet about diagnosis and potential treatment options.
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
Often described as a ruptured, slipped, bulging or herniated disk, this painful spinal condition is often seen in short stocky brachycephalic breeds such as Pekingese, shih tzus and French bulldogs.
IVDD is a very serious, debilitating condition that requires immediate veterinary care.
Symptoms of IVDD depend upon where the problematic disc is located along the dog's spine but can include crying, knuckling, inability to walk, shivering, and urinary or fecal incontinence.
Protecting Your Frenchie's Health
While advances in veterinary care mean that many serious health concerns can be treated effectively, our veterinarians believe that providing proactive care before issues become more severe is better for your pet's long term health.
Twice yearly wellness exams provide your veterinarian with an opportunity to spot emerging health issues in the earliest stages and provide you with an effective treatment plan designed to protect your beloved pup's health as they continue to age.
Vaccines & Parasite Prevention
Vaccines and parasite prevention are an essential element of caring for your dog's health regardless of breed, but even more so when it comes to protecting your bulldog's health.
Many common dog illnesses, including parainfluenza, canine distemper and heartworm attack the respiratory system of our four-legged friends. Protect your Frenchie's delicate respiratory system with up-to-date vaccines and parasite prevention.
Speak to our experienced team to learn which vaccines and prevention products are right for your beloved bulldog.
Bulldog Veterinary Tips & Advice
Read our blog for tips from our vets on how to care for your bulldog, French bulldog or other flat-faced dog breed.