How to Diagnose Breathing problems in French Bulldogs - Vets on Call
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How to Diagnose Breathing problems in French Bulldogs

By vetsadmin | July 26, 2019

French bulldogs, with their big beautiful eyes and adorable bat-shaped ears, are often referred to as “Frenchie’s”. There are many characteristics of a “Frenchie” that make them a great choice for a pet.

If you are thinking of owning a French bulldog, then you should be aware of French bulldog breathing problems which require close monitoring by vets and very often need surgery to improve their breathing

Unfortunately, research conducted in the UK and published in 2016 found that almost half of French bulldogs have significant breathing problems, with over 66 percent showing stenotic nares, or excessively tight nostrils.

The set of Frenchies’ eyes and their smaller muzzle gives them a more human-like appearance, but these features haven’t evolved naturally. Frenchies has been designed by deliberately breeding together dogs with smaller muzzles. Because of this, French bulldogs can experience some very serious health problems.

Their breathing problems can range from moderate to severe. The Frenchie is a loud, heavy breather and most French bulldogs snore due to elongated soft palate. Heavy breathing could be due to the physical makeup of the dog’s airway, or it could be a sign of brachycephalic airway syndrome, which is common with Frenchies and other dogs with short airways and scrunched faces. Brachycephalic airway syndrome (BOAS)can range from mild to serious, and approximately 80%-90% of French Bulldogs require surgery, however many go without any treatment.

Frenchies should be regularly assessed by a vet in order to monitor their respiratory issues and we recommend discussing BOAS surgery with your vet as this could greatly improve your dog’s breathing issues.

Here are the main signs to be aware of to know if your loveable Frenchie is experiencing any breathing problems.

How to help your French Bulldog:

1. Keep you dog out of the heat

Due to the structure of their faces, Frenchies are prone to overheating and breathing issues. This causes an increased risk of heatstroke because the dog can’t intake enough oxygen to keep them cool. When it’s hot, try to keep your Frenchie comfortable at home with air-conditioning.

2. Don’t over-exercise

Just like when it’s hot, physical exertion can cause overheating and your Frenchie may struggle to regulate their body temperature effectively. Don’t go on very long walks, 10-15 minute daily walks are ideal for French Bulldogs. If you notice that your Frenchie is fatigued, carry them for the rest of the walk. Try to walk in the morning or evening to avoid the hotter temperatures during the day and always try to avoid strong humidity.

Puppies and adults have different exercise requirements and overwalking a pup could do more harm than good. A good rule of thumb is to walk the French bulldog puppy for 2 minutes for each month of age. For instance, a 4 month old puppy should be walked for 8 minutes at a time.

Watching for Breathing Problems:

1. Listen to their breathing:

Under normal conditions (in cool weather and when your dog is not under stress), you’ll probably hear some noisy breathing that doesn’t bother them. But, if you hear noisy breathing that sounds like honking or rasping, your little Frenchie may have a breathing problem.This breathing noise is caused by the compressed anatomy of the French bulldog’s airways. The noisier their breathing, the worse their condition could be.

2. Monitor your dog during exercise:

If your dog is reluctant to exercise or lags behind on walks, they may be having trouble breathing. You may notice your French bulldog panting heavily with their tongue sticking out.If your dog has breathing problems, exercise will place extra demands on their body. For example, their body will need more oxygen which they can’t supply because they physically can’t draw extra air in.

3. Look inside dog’s mouth:

If your French bulldog is really struggling to breath and is not getting enough oxygen, the membranes on their mouth and tongue will look blue or purple. Healthy membranes should appear pink. You may also notice your dog drooling. This is because they are concentrating so hard on breathing that they don’t want to take time out to swallow.

4. Monitor your French Bulldog’s behaviour:

Your Frenchie may collapse or faint if they are overtired and not getting enough oxygen. You may notice your dog appear uncomfortable or restless in hotter weather when it’s harder for them to breathe. Other signs of breathing problems can include:

  • Snorting
  • Choking
  • Vomiting
  • Gagging

Vomiting and gagging can cause severe aspiration pneumonia, which can be life-threatening in some cases.

5. Getting a Vet’s Diagnosis

6. Take your French Bulldog to the Veterinarian:

The vet will monitor your dog’s breathing and chest movement. The vet will also look for any physical landmarks that is making it hard for your dog to breathe, like narrow nostrils or a large tongue that blocks the back of the throat. Listening to noisy breathing is also important in diagnosing breathing problems. This can help detect any signs of chest infection or heart murmurs which create a fluid build-up in the lungs. Both of these conditions can contribute to breathing problems.

If you are noticing any signs of abnormal breathing in your Frenchie at any period, contact one of our mobile vets at Vets on Call. Download the Vets on Call mobile app today for iPhone or Android and book a vet to come straight to your door.

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