French Bulldog's Health Problems

French Bulldogs come in all shapes and sizes. They have the cutest faces and are very entertaining to have around. They have become a very popular breed, but they can be one of the most expensive dogs to own. I speak from experience as the owner of a Frenchie named Yogi, whom I am sure many of you have met at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital.

To start, I adopted Yogi when he was eight months old. I had no history of Yogi, so I adopted him, accepting full responsibility for any medical conditions he would develop. And there were a lot!

Soon after adopting Yogi we noticed he had a lot of gastrointestinal problems-vomiting, diarrhea, not eating and lethargy. We knew that Yogi liked to eat things he wasn’t supposed to, mainly toys. When Dr. Hayley performed an ultrasound, she noticed that his intestines were inflamed. It was from chronic vomiting and diarrhea, which meant Yogi had reactions to certain foods. Now, he eats a veterinary-prescribed hypoallergenic diet and hypoallergenic treats. That is all he gets! It was easy for me to control, except when Dr. Lisa was around, Yogi would beg for food, and she couldn’t resist his big brown eyes. One time she gave him a sesame cracker, and he had an anaphylactic reaction, which was quickly treated since he was at the vet clinic.

Yogi also has environmental allergies. How do I know this? When springtime comes, the skin on his abdomen changes colour to black, and he licks his feet all the time. The biggest problem with managing environmental allergies is you can’t control the environment. You must treat the symptoms with medication, which is the only thing that helps Yogi stay comfortable throughout the spring, summer, and fall. It is worth saying that nearly every Frenchie we see at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital has allergies—this is extremely common!

When Yogi was two years old, we noticed he was holding his head up high, and his neck muscles were pulsing. We took X-rays and saw he had many calcified discs. It is known as the hardening of the discs that are in between his vertebrae and around his spinal cord. We tried acupuncture, a chiropractor, physiotherapy and a variety of pain medications. After six weeks of treatment, he finally got better.

French Bulldogs almost always have congenitally misshapen vertebrae. Nothing can be done about this (except for selective breeding), but it means that spinal issues are extremely common. The cost of spinal surgery easily exceeds $10,000, which is another reason pet insurance is worthwhile for this breed.

Yogi is now four years old and just recently had spinal surgery. One of the calcified discs was pushing on his spinal cord, causing him severe pain. We had to use a lot of pain medication to keep him comfortable before the Neurologist at CARE Veterinary Centre in Calgary could see him. We had a CT scan performed to find the location of the problem and then had neck surgery- Needless to say, it was very expensive and very worrisome. The surgery was successful, but Yogi continues to have “flare-ups.” He has another area of calcification lower down on his spine that causes pain. Unfortunately, this area is too risky for surgery because of the location on his spine. For now, we will keep him pain-free, but we know that eventually, his spine will get pinched again, and we may not be able to keep him comfortable anymore.

I know Yogi may be a special Frenchie, but we continue to see more French Bulldogs with all these problems. I wrote this so owners adopting a Frenchie will be informed about medical issues and can be prepared financially (pet insurance is a must if you own a Frenchie) and emotionally.

Written by: Trina, Practice Manager