French bulldogs are quite popular these days. Who wouldn’t want one? They are so cute and adorable! However, if you are planning on getting one or if you already have a Frenchie at home, you should be aware of the health challenges that your pet may face. Aside from breathing problems, this breed of dog may also experience spine issues.
The signs and symptoms of slipped disc may not be obvious at first. And, of course, you can’t expect your dog to tell you that there is something wrong with it. For this reason, you, as the owner, must know what to watch out for. The earlier you catch the problem, the sooner you can provide the needed treatment. This will help save your dog from more serious health problems that may develop.
What are the symptoms of slipped disc in French bulldogs?
The signs and symptoms may differ depending on the location of the affected disc. Here are the things that can tell you that your Frenchie may have problems with its spine:
- If the damaged disc is located in the neck, you will notice loss of movement in the dog’s limbs, especially those in front.
- If the problem is in the lumbar area, the rear limbs will most likely be affected.
- It has difficulty turning its head.
- It whimpers and shivers most of the time.
- It does not want to be touched.
- It refuses to jump.
- It steps on the wrong side of its paw.
- It has difficulty walking, or in more severe cases, it won’t walk at all.
- It does not want to do anything.
- It shows signs of anxiety or restlessness.
- It does not want to eat.
- It gets paralyzed.
- It can’t control its urination or defecation (also known as incontinence).
If your French bulldog shows any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is highly recommended that you take it to the vet’s clinic as soon as possible so tests can be done.
What is intervertebral disc disease is French bulldogs?
Simply put, intervertebral disc disease refers to herniated or slipped disc in a dog’s spine. Frenchies are susceptible to this type of problem, and it could be quite serious.
How does this happen? Just like people, the vertebrae of dogs are separated by discs, serving as cushions. However, if any of these discs gets displaced, ruptured, or swollen, it could cause serious damages to the spinal cord.
This condition is extremely painful, and it can affect some areas of the dog’s body. The nerves will also be affected, and, therefore, won’t work properly. The same thing can happen in the neighboring muscles. All of these can hinder your dog’s movements. And in worst case scenario, it could even result in paralysis.
What are the causes of herniated disc?
This condition is hereditary, and it is quite common in small dog breeds. Since French bulldogs have been bred using different mixes, this is not surprising to happen.
Also, slipped disc can be caused simply by careless movements, such as jumping the wrong way. With that said, it is important that you monitor your pet’s activities. You should not let it engage in strenuous activities.
Herniated disc could also be a result of aging.
What do you need to do if you think that your dog has intervertebral disc disease?
If you suspect that your Frenchie has slipped disc, then the best thing that you should do is to take it to the vet immediately. Next, discuss what the best treatment plans are. In case surgery is needed, you have to prepare yourself for the healing or recovery process as this will test your patience as the parent.
Furthermore, you have to restrict your pet to bed for a few weeks. If physical therapy is recommended, you should also participate in the rehabilitation process. Help your pet regain its muscles’ strength.
How will a vet test your dog if it has a slipped disc?
In order for a veterinarian to come up with the right diagnosis, several tests should be done first. To start with, a neurological exam should be conducted as this will significantly help in determining the cause of the condition. This test is done by putting the paw in an awkward position. If the dog doesn’t correct the position, then, it is most likely that your pet’s nervous system is not working properly.
Another thing that the vet may do is to check if your dog can feel deep pain. He will pinch between the toes, and if your Frenchie does not react, then you can conclude that, indeed, something is not right. The nerves that tell the brain that there is pain are not working at this point.
Furthermore, the doctor will also recommend x-rays, CT scan, and even MRI to gather more information as to what the condition of your dog really is. Myelography may also be used to tell the exact location of the slipped disc.
Your vet will need to have the medical history of your dog as well. It is this then essential that you thoroughly describe what your pet’s lifestyle is, including what it eats and the activities that it normally does. You need to mention any health issues that it had in the past too. And lastly, you need to tell the doctor the signs that you have noticed on your puppy.
If needed, a surgery can be performed to correct slipped disc. With this procedure, your Frenchie will be under anesthesia. The surgery will be conducted by cutting through the skin as well as muscles in order to reach the vertebrae. Next, it would be necessary to drill through the bone and eliminate the material that is compressing the spine. Usually, this type of surgery lasts for a few hours, depending on the affected area.
How long is the recovery period after surgery?
The recovery period of French bulldogs that have undergone surgery to correct slipped disc may vary. Some could be in the hospital for only two or three days. But there also instances when the dog needs to stay admitted longer than that (up to a week). It all depends on the improvement.
Some dogs can fully recover from slipped disc. However, there are also some that will have to deal with some issues even after the procedure. In some cases, some dogs won’t regain normal functioning of their limbs.
After the procedure, you can expect that the pain that your dog is feeling is more tolerable than before the surgery. With this, the vet will prescribe some medications that can help relieve the pain so your dog will feel more relaxed and comfortable.
As for the sutures, they can be removed after two weeks. Again, this will depend on how fast the wound heals. And like what we have said earlier, physical therapy may be recommended. This can be done at the comfort of your home or you can also take your dog to a certain facility. Doing so will greatly help in the recovery process.
If for some reason you still observe that your Frenchie is hesitant to walk or get up a few weeks after the operation, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian.
How much does a slipped disc surgery cost for a dog?
If you are considering surgery as the last option to treat your Frenchie with slipped disc, it is then important that you are prepared financially. Just like any other procedures, it does not come cheap. The surgery itself will cost anywhere from $2000 to $4000. It can even go higher than that depending on the affected area. Plus, you will also have to take care of some pain relievers and other medications after the operation.
Can a Frenchie recover from slipped disc without surgery?
Yes, a French bulldog may recover from slipped disc even without surgery. This depends, though, on your dog’s overall condition. If it is not so severe, then rest and medications would suffice. As long as your pet has good sensation in the affected legs, you can expect it to heal. The only thing is that, it may take quite some time. Some dogs recover in six weeks, while some do up to twelve weeks. Within this period, it is very important that you provide proper care for your dog.
How can you take care of a French bulldog with slipped disc?
A Frenchie suffering from slipped disc may really be sensitive. And with this, you really have to be patient with your dog. Take good care of it like you would if your child is ill.
The usual treatment for slipped disc includes some medications that will be prescribed by your veterinarian. Once these have been handed to you, it is crucial that you give them to your pet following the right dosage as well as frequency. This should help reduce the swelling of the affected disc. It will also relax the muscles that surround it.
If the condition is so severe, you won’t have a choice but to keep your dog in its crate and allow it to rest for a while. But if this plus the medication are not working at all, surgery would be the best option.
Additionally, your vet may also recommend physical therapy in order for your dog to heal faster. As it is recovers, make sure that you feed it with healthy food. You must also monitor its activities and see if there is any progress at all.
Here are other things that you can do to help your Frenchie with herniated disc:
- Get a more comfortable crate
A French bulldog with slipped disc needs to get a lot of rest. This means that it will stay in its crate most of the time. You then have to get your pet a more comfortable resting place; something that will limit its movement but still cozy enough.
If needed, give your Frenchie some treats. This will help him adapt to its new crate.
- Apply heat to the affected area
Hot compress will surely help relax the affected area, so this is something that you can do to your dog while he is resting. It will help in the healing process.
Can you use a back brace for a dog with slipped disc?
Yes, using a back brace is actually a great way to help a French bulldog with slipped disc. How does it work? This structure limits the movement of the spine, which, in turn, helps reduce pain or discomfort every time your Frenchie moves.
When buying one, make sure that it is the right size for your dog. It should not be too tight or too loose. Otherwise, it will defeat the whole purpose. Also, choose something that is made up of high-quality material so as to properly support your dog’s back.
Back braces are useful, especially during outdoor activities. It can also be worn after surgery.
How can you prevent intervertebral disc disease in Frenchies?
This health condition is really hard to prevent, especially if it was inherited. However, there are some things that you can do with your dog to minimize the risks. Here are some of them:
- Control your dog’s weight
Being overweight is one of the factors that could lead to IVDD. Therefore, it is critical that you watch your dog’s weight. You should not overfeed it.
- Monitor your pet’s activities
It is true that French bulldogs can get hyper sometimes. But in order to reduce the risk of developing intervertebral disc disease, you should try to limit its activities. If your pet is fond of jumping around, then you can utilize ramps as well as lower steps that have been designed for dogs.
- Use a harness
Instead of using a leash all the time, it would be good if you use a harness. This will help avoid IVDD in the neck area.
- Take it to the vet regularly
Just like humans, it is essential that you take your French bulldog to a veterinarian for a general checkup at least once a year. Doing this will allow the doctor to monitor your pet’s health. The vet can also detect some health issues at their early stages, and so, treatment can be provided as early as possible.