10 Most Common French Bulldog Health Issues In 2024

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Lacey Jackson-Matsushima
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French Bulldogs or Frenchies for short are known for having defining features with oversized eyes and ears, and very small hind legs. As cute as they are though, French Bulldogs should receive at least an annual vet visit and as they get older a biannual vet visit to check for signs of any common French Bulldog health issues.

The sooner you get them checked and the more comprehensive your pet insurance is, the easier long-term care will be in your wallet.

Key Takeaways

  • French bulldogs are the least healthy breed of dogs and have the highest number of common health issues.

  • French Bulldogs are at risk for ear infections, eye infections, hip dysplasia, skinfold dermatitis, heat stroke, and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.

  • According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), 72.6% of French bulldogs struggle with hip dysplasia.

  • 50% of French Bulldogs have BOAS, according to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

  • French bulldogs have a 25.9 times greater risk of developing skin fold dermatitis compared to other dogs.

Common French Bulldog Health Problems

Below are the top ten French bulldog health issues, with insights on how to identify them, treatment options, and prevention.

#1: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is the most common French Bulldog health issue. French Bulldogs have a flat face or brachycephalic face and that means they are prone to respiratory problems because of the physical design of their face and nose.

50% of French Bulldogs have BOAS, according to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

When it develops:

Between 1 and 4 years old.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Wheezing or otherwise noisy breathing
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Curling tongue or other signs of problematic breathing
  • Vomiting

Treatment:

If diagnosed, your veterinarian will provide tips on how to manage exercise and weight to alleviate mild symptoms but might also provide things like oxygen therapy, medication, or surgery for more severe cases.

Prevention:

Always have your veterinarian check for BOAS every year until your French Bulldog turns four and then after that every two years.

#2: Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is when your dog doesn’t produce tears properly so habitual dryness in the cornea causes eye inflammation. This is typically an inherited disorder and one that can be easily managed.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) impacts between 0.3% and 1.52% of dogs each year.

When it develops:

In middle-aged to older French bulldogs.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Squinting
  • Red eyes
  • Thick, oily discharge from eyes
  • Pawing at eyes
  • Ulcers on the surface of the eyes

Treatment:

If diagnosed, tear-stimulating eye drops, films, or antibiotic medications can be used to manage mild symptoms. In very severe cases, surgery can help improve tear production.

Prevention:

As this is a genetic condition, there’s very little that can be done to prevent it but regular management is moderately simple.

#3: Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

French Bulldogs can struggle with urinary tract infections when bacteria get into their urinary system. This can happen because of bacterial accumulation in the skin folds around the genitals.

Urinary tract infections impact 14% of dogs, more frequently in older dogs.

When it develops:

Urinary tract infections can develop in French bulldogs at any age but are more common in older dogs.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Frequent urination with small amounts each time
  • Discolored urine
  • Frequently licking genitals
  • High temperature
  • Dripping urine

Treatment:

Veterinarians will typically prescribe antibiotics as well as pain medication. They might offer recommendations for changes to your dog’s diet or exercise regimen as well.

Prevention:

Keeping your French Bulldog clean, especially clean and dry around the genitals, can help diminish the risk of infection.

#4: Skin Fold Dermatitis

Skin fold dermatitis, called intertrigo, is something that affects all flat-faced breeds, including French bulldogs. English and French Bulldogs have the highest prevalence of intertrigo because of the environmental moisture that accumulates between their skin folds and the friction of those folds. This often results in fungal infections and bacteria leading to:

  • Dermatitis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Dog acne

French bulldogs have a 25.9 times greater risk of developing skin fold dermatitis compared to other dogs.

Tip: Invest in medicated wipes to regularly clean all of the folds around the face, tail, and genitals. Dry your dog regularly after using wipes or giving them a bath.

When it develops:

Skinfold dermatitis can develop at any age.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Bad odor from the skin
  • Red patches of the skin between folds
  • Moisture in between folds
  • Sores
  • Signs of pain

Treatment:

Treatment usually involves medicated wipes or anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, antifungals, antimicrobial shampoo, or anti yeast medication. Your veterinarian will help you determine which medications are best depending on the skin infection severity and location.

Prevention:

The best way to prevent skin fold dermatitis is to regularly clean the folds around your dog and give them a bath every couple of months. You also want to keep the area very dry after they have been cleaned.

#5: Allergies

Just the same as their owners, French Bulldogs are susceptible to allergies and this can be environmental allergies or even food allergies.

When it develops:

Allergies can develop at any age in French bulldogs.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Sneezing
  • Running eyes
  • Constant licking
  • Discharge from ears or eyes
  • Skin problems
  • Increased scratching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Treatment:

If a veterinarian diagnoses your French bulldog with allergies, that might necessitate a change in diet, environment, or medication depending on the cause of the allergies.

Prevention:

If your dog has allergies, you can prevent the allergic reactions by getting them tested for allergies early and avoiding the main allergens. You can also give them regular allergy medication.

#6: Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a high risk among French bulldogs, and it can happen when your Bulldog is allowed outside in the sun or in humidity and becomes dehydrated. Your dog doesn’t have to be outside during the day to struggle with heat stroke; even humid temperatures at night can cause severe health issues.

When it develops:

French Bulldogs can experience heat stroke at any age, but more commonly during the summer months.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Painting
  • Bright gums
  • Drooling with thicker-than-normal salvia
  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • High temperature

Treatment:

Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you notice signs of heat stroke. A veterinarian will provide them with fluid and oxygen to help them stabilize.

Prevention:

You can prevent heat stroke by keeping your French Bulldog cool, providing adequate water, keeping them in the shade, and avoiding any situation like locking them in a car or another confined and hot space.

#7: Eye Problems

French Bulldogs are susceptible to a wide range of eye problems like corneal ulcers and Cherry eye. Cherry eye is a genetic condition where the tear gland breaks down, and a mass starts to pop out at the corner of your dog’s eye. Hereditary conditions can cause the eyelashes to turn inward and rub against the cornea.

When it develops:

French Bulldogs can experience other eye problems at any age.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Excessive squinting
  • Redness or inflammation in the eye
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Light sensitivity

Treatment:

Treatment will depend on the type of problem. Take your dog to the veterinarian, and if they observe things like Cherry eye, they’ll need surgery to permanently fix it, and they might also suggest anti-inflammatory medications. Hereditary conditions will likely need to be resolved with surgery as well.

Prevention:

Eye problems can result from many things, most commonly skin issues, infections, or allergies. By treating any issues as soon as they arise, having regular visits, and keeping the skin folds around the eyes clean, you can prevent a higher number of eye problems.

#8: Hip Dysplasia

According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), 72.6% of French bulldogs struggle with hip dysplasia.

French Bulldogs are at a high risk of hip dysplasia despite the fact that it traditionally manifests in larger dog breeds.

When it develops:

Hip dysplasia can start to show as early as five months old.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Swollen shoulder muscles
  • Weakness in back legs
  • Straining to climb or jump
  • Reduced levels of activity
  • Hesitation going from sitting or lying to upright

Treatment:

Treatment can involve weight loss and physical therapy, as well as surgical techniques, depending on the severity of the condition.

Prevention:

If you keep your dog on a healthy diet with gentle exercise, you can reduce the risk of hip dysplasia.

#9: Ear Problems

According to a recent study, 58% of French bulldogs have ear infections, and 59% have problems in both ears.

French Bulldogs are known for having large ears, but that also makes it more likely that they will struggle with ear infections, allergies, and even deafness. Ear infections can cause pain and severe complications like partial deafness, neurological problems, or paralysis.

When it develops:

Your problems can develop as early as a few weeks old in French bulldogs and can develop at any age as a result of things like allergies, moisture and bacterial infections, and other disorders.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Scratching at the ears
  • Shaking head
  • Discharge from the ears
  • Redness or swelling of the ears
  • Yelping

Treatment:

Ear infections are treated differently depending on the cause but generally involve antifungal and antibiotic medications that are applied topically.

Prevention:

Because of the high relationship between ear problems and moisture, bacteria, and allergies, you can prevent these conditions by treating allergies and keeping their skin folds clean. Always be sure to clean your dog’s ears at least once every two weeks with antimicrobial ear-cleaning products.

Tip: If you are concerned about ear infections you can get these cleaning products from your veterinarian.

#10: Skeletal Problems

French bulldogs, being a smaller breed, are prone to skeletal issues that relate to being bred with a short set of back legs. This results in their kneecaps temporarily slipping out of place and then popping back in as well as bulging or bursting intervertebral discs.

Patella luxation, the official term for when their kneecaps temporarily slip out of place, can be something mild where the kneecaps immediately return to their normal position, but it can also be a serious medical issue that requires surgery.

Intervertebral disc disease can be something managed with medication on the lower end of severity but can also be severe enough that it requires surgery depending on the amount of pressure on the spinal cord and where the discs have bulged or slipped.

When it develops:

Skeletal problems can develop at any age but typically happen in older French bulldogs.

How to spot symptoms:

  • Reluctance to jump
  • Crying if picked up
  • Walking oddly
  • Abnormal shapes to the back
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Urinary or fecal problems

Treatment:

For mild cases, you might consider physical therapy, but more severe cases require surgery.

Prevention:

Preventative measures can include a healthy weight and a proper diet as well as gentle exercise.

 

Does Pet Insurance Cover Common French Bulldog Health Issues?

Pet insurance tends to cover a lot of common health issues like ear infections, skin infections, allergies, and heat stroke.

When you invest in pet insurance for a French bulldog, you can choose policies that only extend to accidents and injuries or policies that extend to common illnesses and chronic conditions. In either case, you can find policies that might cover things like:

  • X-rays
  • MRIS
  • Routine wellness exams
  • Prescription medication
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Blood tests
  • Medical procedures like surgery
  • Prescription food or supplements
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Alternative procedures

However, basic pet insurance does not extend to pre-existing conditions. pre-existing conditions can include hip dysplasia or BOAS, things that French Bulldogs are genetically at risk for having when they are born.

Pre-existing conditions are typically not covered but some companies may offer slightly more expensive policies with extra coverage for French bulldogs.

Explain that pet insurance will cover a lot of common health disorders. Describe the typical types of things that a pet insurance policy will cover. Give special mention to pre-existing conditions.

FAQs

How long do French Bulldogs live?

French Bulldogs typically live between 10 and 12 years, and the more you care for the most common French Bulldog Health issues, the longer they will survive.

What is the number 1 killer of French Bulldogs?

Recent studies have confirmed that the leading killer for French Bulldogs is brain disorders, followed by intervertebral disc disease, tumors, respiratory complications, and cancer.

Do French Bulldogs have a lot of health issues?

Yes, French Bulldogs have a lot of Health issues. In fact, the breeding methods of the French Bulldog have made them one of the least healthy breeds with a high risk of a shorter lifespan if they end up with severe medical complications and genetic conditions.

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