French bulldogs, with their endearing personalities and unique looks, have become one of the nation’s most beloved dog breeds, reaching “top dog” status on the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds list. However, like all breeds, French bulldogs are prone to certain health issues. As a dedicated Frenchie owner, you need to be aware of these potential problems and take proactive measures to prevent them. Our Burlington Veterinary Center team describes common health issues that affect French bulldogs and provides practical tips on how to keep your furry friend healthy and happy for years to come.

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome in French bulldogs

The French bulldog is a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have short muzzles and flat faces. While this characteristic look adds to their adorable appearance, it also puts them at risk for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), a condition characterized by respiratory difficulties. Signs may include snoring, noisy breathing, exercise intolerance, gagging when eating or drinking, and collapse in severe cases. Minimize respiratory issues associated with BOAS in your Frenchie by:

  • Avoiding strenuous exercise, particularly in hot weather
  • Using a harness rather than a collar for walks to avoid putting pressure on the neck
  • Keeping your dog at a healthy weight, as obesity exacerbates breathing issues
  • Minimizing stress and panting

After implementing these strategies, your Frenchie may still have breathing difficulties. If they do, your French bulldog may benefit from corrective surgery to open their nostrils and shorten their soft palate. 

Heatstroke in French bulldogs

Because of their compromised respiratory systems, French bulldogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than other breeds. Heatstroke can be life-threatening if not promptly recognized and treated, so take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke in your Frenchie: 

  • Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day
  • Provide a cool, shaded area for your dog to rest
  • Offer plenty of fresh water at all times
  • Bring your dog inside at the first hint of overheating (i.e., heavy panting, thick drool, lethargy)

Skin allergies in French bulldogs

French bulldogs are prone to skin allergies, which can manifest as itching, redness, rashes, and hair loss. Allergies can be triggered by various factors, including pollen, mold, dust mites, and certain foods. Manage your Frenchie’s allergies by:

  • Reducing dust mites in the environment by regularly vacuuming and washing bedding
  • Feeding a high-quality diet that is free from artificial additives
  • Minimizing environmental allergen exposure by limiting outdoor time during high pollen counts
  • Bathing your dog in gentle shampoo to remove allergens from their skin, paying close attention to facial and tail folds
  • Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears with a veterinarian-recommended ear cleanser

Cherry eye in French bulldogs

Cherry eye is a common condition in which the third eyelid’s tear gland protrudes and becomes visible as a red, cherry-like mass in the eye’s inner corner. While not usually painful, cherry eye can lead to a dry, irritated eye and may require surgical correction. Because of their brachycephalic skull shape, French bulldogs’ eyeballs protrude from the socket, making them susceptible to eye injuries. Protect your Frenchie’s eyes by:

  • Gently cleaning the skinfolds around the eyes with a damp cloth
  • Avoiding rough play that could lead to eye trauma 
  • Putting protective eyewear on your dog when exploring to keep dust, debris, and foreign objects out of their eyes

Intervertebral disc disease in French bulldogs

French bulldogs are predisposed to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a condition in which the discs between the spinal vertebrae degenerate and may herniate, causing pain and neurologic issues. Reduce your Frenchie’s IVDD risk by:

  • Avoiding activities that excessively strain the spine, such as jumping and rough play
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce spinal stress 
  • Installing ramps or steps near furniture to prevent jumping

While French bulldogs bring joy and companionship to their devoted families, you need to be proactive about their health and well-being. By understanding the common health problems that affect Frenchies and taking preventive measures, you can help ensure a long, happy, and healthy life for your four-legged friend. Give our Burlington Veterinary Center team a call to schedule your Frenchie’s next wellness visit to keep them in tip-top shape.