~~~~~ FRENCH BULLDOG AND FRENCHBO ~~~~~
Hot Weather Care
Flat Faced Breeds - "BRACHYCEPHALIC"
Flat Faced Breeds - ELONGATED SOFT PALATE
Flat Faced Breeds - HEMIVERTEBRAE - Spine care
Flat Faced Breeds - INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE
Hot Weather Care
Written by; John Niedhamer
Summer is upon us, the time of year when our Frenchies suffer the most.
With their lack of ability to shed heat, summers can be intolerable and dangerous.
When Frenchies become overheated, their narrow airways can easily
become blocked by swelling or their own mucus.
Unable to breathe, they can quickly die.
There are many things you can do to make summer more bearable for them:
Make sure they only go outside early in the morning and late in the evening,
when they are least likely to overheat.
Don't leave them outside unsupervised.
Keep the house cool and comfortable for them. If you leave them alone,
set up fans or air conditioners where they can enjoy them.
Make sure there is always plenty of water for them to drink;
keep it topped up and make sure it is clean and cool.
Offer them cool treats. My Frenchies enjoy baby carrots straight from the freezer.
They love to crunch away on them on hot days.
Let them swim: most Frenchies can't manage the deep water of a regular swimming pool.
Get them a little plastic kiddie pool. Many Frenchies love to splash in a few inches of cool water.
(Note: don't use the inflatable kind of pool. Frenchie nails will quickly puncture it if their teeth don't.)
Signs your Frenchie is overheated:
Heavy uncontrollable panting, tongue swells, eyes bulge, fatigue, vomiting.
If your Frenchie gets into overheating difficulties:
Get them to a cool location immediately.
Wet them with cool (NOT ice cold) water.
Use a spray bottle to wet their bellies, insides of legs, ears.
When they recover, give them cool (NOT ice cold) water to drink.
It is important NOT to use ICE on an overheated dog. The ice will constrict surface capillaries,
moving blood away from the skin and into internal organs.
This will slow the exchange of heat and will make it harder for your Frenchie to cool down quickly.
Once the dog is cooled, ice can be used. Don't shock the
Frenchie's system by trying to cool them down too fast.
If your Frenchie becomes dehydrated, it will become necessary
to replace electrolytes as well. Sports drinks that
are flavored are not always palatable to Frenchies.
The best choice is to use infant formulas such as unflavored Pedialyte.
Remember, don't take your Frenchie for a walk or for vigorous
exercise in the heat of a summer day.
And DON'T EVER leave your Frenchie unattended in a car.
Even early in the day, the interior of a car can heat
up very quickly, with lethal results.
In summer, when I walk my Frenchies, I always take a spray bottle full
of water with me, even before dawn or in the evening.
They often ask me for a spritz in the mouth, or a spray on the tummy
as a quick cool down. And it is handy to be prepared in case of emergency.
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FLAT FACED BREEDS
Most people are not familiar with the term "Brachycephalic," but if you own a pug,
French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, Bulldog, Shih Tizu or any one of the
other breeds with "pushed in" faces, you should become familiar with this word.
The word comes from Greek roots "Brachy," meaning short and "cephalic," meaning head.
Brachycephalic dogs have been bred so as to possess a normal lower jaw,
that is, one in proportion to their body size,
and a compressed upper jaw. In producing this cosmetic appearance,
we have compromised these animals in many
important ways and you, as an owner, must be familiar with the special needs of your pet.
THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Brachycephalic breeds are characterized by "brachycephalic respiratory syndrome,"
which affects the different areas of the respiratory tract.
Fortunately, most dogs do not suffer from all aspects of the syndrome but you
should be aware of which your particular pet may have.
STENOTIC NARES -
This is a fancy name for narrowed nostrils. The brachycephalic dogs begins by having very small nasal openings
for breathing. If this is severe, surgical correction is possible.
ELONGATED SOFT PALATE -
It is difficult to fit the soft tissues of the canine mouth and throat into
the brachycephalic''s short face.
As a result, the soft palate which separates nasal passage from oral
cavity flaps loosely down into the throat creating snorting sounds.
Virtually all brachycephalics suffer from this but, except in bulldogs, actual respiratory
distress is rare.
Excess barking or panting may lead to swelling in the throat which can, inturn, lead to trouble.
TRACHEAL STENOSIS -
The brachycephalic''s windpipe may be dangerously narrowed in places.
This condition creates tremendous anesthetic
risk and should be ruled out by chest radiographs prior to any surgical procedures.
HEAT STRESS -
Because of all these upper respiratory obstructions,
the brachycephalic dog is an inefficient panter.
A dog with a more conventional face and throat is able to pass air quickly
over the tongue through panting. Saliva evaporates from the tongue as air is passed
across and the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and
circulated back to the rest of the body.
In the brachycephalic dog, so much extra work is required to move
the same amount of air that the airways become inflamed and swollen.
This leads to a more severe obstruction, distress, and further over-heating.
BRACHYCEPHALIC DOGS ARE THE MOST LIKELY
Altogether, the upper airways of the brachycephalic dog compromises
his or her ability to take in air. Under normal conditions the compromise
is not great enough to cause a problem;
however, an owner should take care not to let the
dog become grossly overweight or get too hot in the Summer months.
Be aware of what degree of snorting and sputtering is usual for your
individual pet plus, should your pet require general
anesthesia or sedation, your vet may want to take extra precautions
or take radiographs prior to assess the severity of
the syndrome. Anesthetic risk is higher than usual in these breeds,
though under most circumstances the necessary extra
precautions are readily managed by most animal hospitals.
With most of the nasal bones compacted, brachycephalic dogs tend to have
trouble with the way their eyes seat in their heads.
First, recognize the prominence of the eyes on these dogs.
The boney eye sockets are very shallow. This means that any blow
to the back of the head, even a fairly minor one, can cause an eye to pop from
its socket and require surgical replacement.
This can happen also with too much pulling against the leash if the pet is wearing a collar.
You may wish to consider a harness for your pet.
Sometimes, the eyes are so prominent that the lids cannot close all the way
over the eyes. This will lead to irritation and drying of the center of the eye
unless surgical correction is performed. If you cannot tell by watching your pet
blink, watch as your pet sleeps. Dogs who sleep without closing their eyes
all the way could do with surgical correction.
Eyelid problems are common in these breeds. Look for persistent wetness
around the eyes. In some dogs, the shape of the eyelids prevents normal
tear drainage and there is an overflow. This problem cannot be corrected surgically
and is not uncomfortable for the pet; however, there is a more serious
condition which looks similar. This second condition involves the rolling inward
of the eyelids such that the lashes rub on the eye. Surgery may be needed to
correct this problem.
Chronic irritation will show as a pigmented area on the eye surface,
especially on the side nearest the nose. This is hard to see without a bright
light but if it is noted, a search for the cause is warranted. Depending on the location
of the pigmentation, surgery may be recommended.
The normal dog has 42 teeth in its mouth. The brachycephalic dog also has 42 teeth
but a lot less space to fit them in.
This means that the teeth will be crowded and growing in at odd angles which,
in turn, traps food debris and leads to periodontal disease at a far
younger age than in non-brachycephalics.
The earlier you begin using home care dental products, the longer you will be
able to postpone full dentistry under general anesthesia.
Skin fold infections are common amid the facial folds of the brachycephalic breeds.
Be sure to examine these areas periodically for redness. The broad headed
nature of these breeds makes reproduction a tricky matter as Caesarean
section is frequently needed. Difficult labor is common and,
as surgical assistance is often necessary, it is important
not to breed females with tracheal stenosis (see above).
Breeding is best left to the experts.
Altogether, the brachycephalic breeds show plenty of personality and intelligence
just as all dogs do but because of their special needs, they require
some extra knowledge of their owners.
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Elongated Soft Palate
A problem that is frequently seen in French Bulldogs is called, elongated soft palate.
The soft palate is a flap of mucousal tissue which closes off the animal's airway
(nasopharynx) during swallowing to prevent foods and liquids from going into their lungs.
In the picture, you can see the soft palate just above the Esophagus.
In animals with a normal soft palate, it touches or slightly overlaps the epiglottis.
In dogs with an elongated soft palate, the palate overlaps the epiglottis to a
considerable degree, partially obstructing the animal's airway during breathing.
This is manifested by snorting, snoring, strider, gurgling and gagging.
The obstruction is worse with exercise.
In time, stretched ligaments in the larynx leads to labored breathing and laryngeal collapse.
Laryngeal collapse is a late stage in airway obstruction.
Pressure changes caused by the elongated soft palate bring about the stretching
of the ligaments that support the laryngeal cartilages.
These cartilages gradually collapse inward and block the airway.
(See the drawing below).
In the diagram you can see that more air moves freely in and out of the lungs
in the normal dog's airway, but the dog with the collapsed airway has less air
flowing through it. At this stage any changes in the dog's need for air can
cause acute respiratory insufficiency and cardiac arrest.
TREATMENT:An elongated soft palate is treated by surgically shortening the palate so
that the edge opposes or slightly overlaps the epiglottis.
Results are good and can extend the life of your French Bulldog by years
if the operation is done before destructive changes occur in the larynx.
It is for that reason that you have your French Bulldog
checked by a veterinarian who is familiar with French Bulldogs and
is skilled in identifying this abnormality.
This was an excerpt from the book, "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"
3rd Edition by James M. Giffin MD & Liisa D. Carlson, DVM
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HEMIVERTEBRAEby Jan Grebe
Consider the Ideal Frenchie! Ah, that zenith of canine loveliness,
with its beautiful flat face, roach back, hunk-like body, screw tail, voluminous wrinkles!
But as with all purebred dogs, the distinguishing features
of our little furry friends are not without cost, as they carry with them
an increased risk of medical problems.
Frenchie breeders and pet Frenchie owners alike should be informed about some
of the common problems seen in their breed.
Informed breeders may help minimize the incidence of the more predictable
inherited problems, to keep them from
becoming the nightmare that conditions like hip dysplasia and juvenile
cataracts have been for other breeds.
For that reason, this article will deal with a common problem in Frenchies: hemivertebrae.
Two distinct problems which are seen alarmingly often in brachycephalic
(short faced), screw tailed breeds (French and English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers)
affect the back. These are : congenital malformations of the vertebrae,
and degenerative disc disease. In this issue, we shall consider the commonest
clinically-significant vertebral malformations (hemivertebrae), and in the next issue, disc disease.
Forwarned is forarmed (or forpawed).
Canine backs normally have from 49 to 53 vertebrae, depending on tail length.
Our abbreviated little screw tailed friends thus have about 10 to 15 fewer,
the missing bones being those of the errant tail.Those tail vertebrae
that are present are usually deformed in Frenchies. The bones of the back,
while all having the same basic structure,
are differentiated into various regions, with 7 Cervical, 12 or 13 Thoracic, 7 Lumbar,
3 Sacral, and the rest Coccygeal vertebrae. (Fig. 1).
Each vertebra in that elegant Frenchie top-line has a cylindrical ventral part (the body),
between adjacent pairs of which are the intervertebral discs.The alternating bodies
and discs form a flexible supporting rod. A body arch rises
dorsally from each body to enclose an opening (spinal foramen). (Fig. 2).
The large number of vertebrae, coupled with the complex development of each from
several bone-forming centers, predispose the back to a high probability of errors.
Many defects represent an incomplete development, as seen in
hemivertebrae ("butterfly" vertebrae). This is a CONGENITAL defect (present at birth)
with a GENETIC (inheritable) basis, though it is unlikely that the genetic mechanism
is a simple one-locus, dominant/recessive one. The very high incidence of hemivertebrae
in brachycephalic, screwtailed breeds is a reflection of the fact that the brachycephaly
and short tail are actually skeletal deformities (sorry, Minnie!) which have been built into the breed.
Beautiful to the eye, but malformations nevertheless. In fact, the coccygeal vertebrae
in the screwtail ARE hemivertebrae, whose asymmetry produce that elegant little
embellishment on the derriere.
But what is esthetically pleasing on the rump may have serious consequences in the rest of the spine.
Hemivertebrae form when the right and the left halves of the developing vertebral body fail to fuse,
producing a body which ressembles a butterfly when seen from above.
The two unfused halves often grow unequally, producing a
wedge-shaped vertical body. Depending on which way the broad side of the wedge is directed,
this may cause a dorsal curvature (kyphosis) or a lateral curvature (scoliosis).
As the backbone is bent, so bends the spinal canal;
and any deformity of the canal can compress the spinal cord and/or its blood supply,
with serious effects.
If the function of the spinal cord is impaired by direct compression or by vascular problems,
the animal may show either pain or loss of sensation due to the interruption
of the sensory circuits; if motor nerve circuits
in the cord are affected, weakness or paralysis, especially of the hind limbs, will result.
Any body part receiving its nerve supply from that part of the cord posterior to the
damaged area may be affected.
Various studies have reported on several aspects of hemivertebrae in dogs.
The vertebrae most often involved are the 9th thru the 11th Thoracic vertebrae;
secondary changes in the rib cage may be produced by a curvature here.
There are many cases, often involving only a single vertebra, in which no clinical
problems are seen, and the malformation may be detected only accidentally,
if at all. If more than one vertebra is involved, the probability
of clinical problems increases due to the greater degree of curvature.
In those rare cases in which the dog does show some clinical signs, the outlook is not good.
Most often, symptoms begin at the age of three or four months, with a sudden onset
of hindlimb weakness, often preceded by a gait abnormality which is often noted only in retrospect.
There may be pain on palpation of the back at the level of the hemivertebrae,
with varying degrees of curvature. The latter may be so subtle that it is only detectable
radiographically. In pups which do show such symptoms,
the hindlimb paralysis generally worsens, the muscles
waste, and bladder and bowel control may be lost.
In most cases, that awful decision to euthanize must eventually be faced.
Hemivertebrae, both the wedge-shaped and butterfly-shaped types,
are very common in Frenchies, and when a single one is present it very rarely causes problems.
The inheritability of hemivertebrae in minks is by an autosomal
recessive gene. In humans, it is known to be familial (i.e. to "run in families"),
but it is not inherited in a straightforward and predictable way.
In Frenchies, hemivertebrae appear to be so common that they may be
an unavoidable side effect of the chondrodystrophic condition that characterizes the breed.
Chondrodystrophy (derived from words meaning "bad cartilage nourishment")
is a condition in which the fetal skeleton, which is first formed in cartilage as a
sort of "model ", does not have a good blood supply, and so doesn't develop properly.
This results in the bones that replace the early cartilage models being
poorly formed. (This poor nourishment of cartilage also causes the cartilage of the
intervertebral discs to deteriorate early in life, often leading to intervertebral disc
degeneration and herniation as the next article will describe).
The long bones of the limbs are malformed by chondrodystrophy in a way that causes
a flaring of the ends of the bones; this is what Frenchie people prize as "bone",
actually a malformation and an indicator of the degree of the chondrodystrophy.
In the spine, chondrodystrophy increases the incidence of malformed vertebrae.
The more severe the chondrodystrophy, the greater the incidence of malformations.
It is unfortunate that we have no accurate data on the true frequency of hemivertebrae
in our breed, and we do not know whether they tend to be more common in some lines
of dogs than in others. We need to do X-ray screening of whole families of dogs,
and follow them through several generations, to determine this. Since most
hemivertebrae are detected incidentally on X-rays being done for other reasons,
it is clear that they are usually asymptomatic.
Most back problems in Frenchies are caused by degenerative disc disease.
Because of this, it is difficult to know how to decide whether to breed a dog with hemivertebrae.
If a bitch has more than one, or if she has any sign of spiral canal deformity,
instability, or muscle weakness and/or pain related to hemivertebrae,
she shouldn't be bred because of the additional stress that pregnancy would place on her back.
If a dog or bitch has several hemivertebrae, or has produced puppies with multiple hemivertebrae and/or
symptomatic back problems, it probably shouldn't be bred.
But if an animal with only a single hemivertebra and no clinical problems related to it is
otherwise sound, and possesses desirable traits that should be
perpetuated, then breeding it (especially to another Frenchie with a good and asymptomatic back)
might be all right.
If a breeder can find a vet who cares for a number of Frenchies (and other breeds affected by
hemivertebrae, like Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers), that vet could help evaluate backs
of potential breeding animals both radiologically and by physical exam, and could help
advise the breeder about pros and cons of breeding a given animal.
A vet involved in this way could also help gather the type of information we need in
order to learn more about this condition and whether we can by selective breeding lessen
its incidence in French Bulldogs.
As with most genetic issues, the primary need is for concerned breeders to be diligent
in their analysis of their dogs, and honest and open in the sharing of information about them.
Anyone who loves our breed (and who could help it?) should be alert to its potential problems,
especially those which may be debilitating and/or life-threatening.
The best conformation in the world is futile if the dog dies young; and the grief
resulting from the loss of a beloved pet is beyond price. Every Frenchie is a precious gift,
and we should do what we can to give them the best and longest lives possible.
First published in The French Bullytin, Vol. 3, No. 3 1984
Translated by Eva Sohlberg
teaches Gross Anatomy and Radiographic Anatomy to medical students in Kansas City, USA.
Her doctoral and postdoctoral work were in Zoology, with emphasis in Genetics and Embryology.
She has been a Frenchie Fancier since 1980, but a dog fancier since birth.
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INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASEby Jan Grebe
The second article in a series of two.
Premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs, like hemivertebrae, is an all-too-common problem
in French Bulldogs. In Sweden, research indicates that Frenchies are second only to Dachshunds in
the incidence of disc disease, proportionate to the breeds' population sizes. No data are available
for the frequency of the condition in the United States Frenchie population;
but it seems to be high here as well.
Researchers believe that the breeds most commonly affected are the "chondrodystrophic"
ones in which an abnormal development of the bones results in various skeletal disproportions,
such as short legs and noses.
In these breeds, chondrodystrophy predisposes the discs to being prematurely converted to an abnormal
type of tissue, whose consistency is unsuitable for the discs' function. Then, in the parts of the back
most subject to mechanical stress, these degenerated discs are liable to rupture or protrude.
It is likely that a tendency toward disc disease, like hemivertebrae, is a side effect of the developmental
defects that we select for as characterizing our lovely breed. But some lines of Frenchies probably
have a higher-than-average incidence of the ailment superimposed on this built-in breed tendency.
Inbreeding and line-breeding would increase the probability of an undesirable characteristic
just as they would increase the incidence of the desirable ones. As with other inherent
breed problems that accompany the desirable traits, a perfect conformation may be too
expensive if its cost is the health or the life of the Frenchie.
It might be wise to reconsider the breed standard periodically to see whether a minor change
in it could produce a healthier breed.
A first step toward coming to terms with this or any health problem is to educate Frenchie Friends ...
breeders and pet owners alike ... as to the nature of the disease, its clinical signs,
prognoses and treatment.
Underlying those beautiful folds and wrinkles of the Frenchie back is the vertebral column, consisting of 7
cervical, 13 thoracic, 7 lumbar, 3 sacral and a variable number of coccygeal (tail) vertebrae. The latter
group is greatly reduced and generally abnormally formed in our little screwtailed friends (FIG. 1).
Between the ventral solid parts (bodies) of each pair of adjacent vertebrae is a flexible, cushion-like disc
composed of a tough, outer fibrous envelope (the annulus) containing a soft, jelly-like inner mass
(the nucleus). Either with aging, or due to premature disc degeneration,
dehydration of the disc may occur, resulting in a loss of elasticity. The nucleus of the disc
may then thicken, become fibrous, and finally calcify. These degenerative changes,
generally present to some extent in old dogs of all breeds, often
occur prematurely in the chondrodystrophic breeds.
Although the changes in the disc may be seen in x-rays as a narrowing of the intervertebral
space, plus the presence of calcium deposits in the space, the degeneration of the disc
does not itself generally cause clinical signs.
The problems arise when part or all of the disc is squeezed out from between the vertebrae and protrudes
dorsally into the adjacent spinal canal, causing an inflammation and/or compression of the spinal cord,
and sometimes accompanied by bleeding from blood vessels in the tissues surrounding the spinal cord.
There may be a bulging out of the annulus, or an extrusion of the nucleus of the disc from its annulus
(like squeezing the pulp of a grape out of its skin), or even total displacement of the entire disc.
The terms disc herniation, protrusion, rupture, extrusion, and prolapse have all been applied to various
types of disc problems. Because these terms are not consistently used, we will refer to
ANY movement of all or part of a disc out of its intervertebral space as a disc protrusion.
A degenerated disc may protrude slowly over a period of time, or rapidly; and it may happen for no apparent
reason, or as a result of a trauma. Something as simple as a jump off a chair can dislodge or protrude
a diseased disc, not that Frenchies are ever allowed on furniture, of course.
Protrusion usually occurs dorsally in the midline, into the spinal canal containing the spinal cord (FIG. 4).
Ventral protrusion is rare because the annulus is thicker ventrally and is also reinforced ventrally
by a strong ligament.
The specific discs most often affected are those thoraco-lumbar discs between vertebrae T11 to L2
(where it is estimated that 60 per cent of all disc protrusions occur), and in the cervical area,
especially in the discs between vertebrae C2 to C4 (FIG. 2). The nine discs located between vertebrae
T1 - T10 rarely protrude because they are reinforced dorsally by a ligament associated with the ribs
which are attached to these vertebrae.
When the disc degeneration is a consequence of age (in dogs ten years old or older), the cervical discs
are the ones most often affected. In the premature condition, as often seen in Frenchies, both the
cervical and the thoraco-lumbar discs show a high incidence of degeneration, with the latter being
more often affected. Protrusion of prematurely degenerated discs is most often seen in dogs that are
three to five years old, though degenerative changes in the discs have been found to occur as early
as four months of age. Both sexes are affected equally.
The location of the protruding disc, and the extent of the resulting spinal cord injury determine what signs
the dog will show. The canal containing the spinal cord is much larger in the cervical region, so that
there is a relatively large space around the cord. Thus, the degree of cervical cord compression is
generally less severe and produces less serious signs than in the thoraco-lumbar area, where the spinal
cord occupies about 80 per cent of the available space in the spinal canal.
Protrusion of a cervical disc generally produces pain, but little if any muscle weakness or paralysis.
The dog will walk with its head extended straight forward, and the neck muscles stiff and contracted.
If the neck is manipulated, the pain is severe; and during an acute attack, the dog's body is rotated.
If muscular involvement occurs, it will generally cause "knuckling" or stumbling of the fore limbs,
especially when the involved disc is one of the more posterior ones in the cervical group.
In the thoracic and lumbar regions, the smaller diameter of the canal is likely to result in more serious
cord compression, with a much greater likelihood of hind limb paralysis. In addition to directly
compressing the spinal cord, a protruding disc may also cause an inflammation and swelling of the cord,
and/or hemorrhage by damage to the blood vessels in the tissues surrounding the cord.
Various sensory and motor "circuits" are contained in specific parts of the spinal cord and the type
of paralysis, plus the presence or absence of pain, are clues from which the extent of damage to the
cord can be deduced.
Figure 3 illustrates a cross-section through the spinal column, canal and cord. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 three
demonstrate the locations of three important circuits within the cord. Numbers 1 and 2 represent motor
circuits (i.e. controlling muscle movement), while number 3 represents the pain circuit.
If a protruding disc causes a cord lesion or damage that extends into the cord as far as line B,
interrupting circuits numbers 1 and 2, the hind limbs will lack muscle tone and will show
a flaccid paralysis. Pain will still be present.
In the most serious case, the cord damage extends all the way to line C, and affects all three circuits;
in this case the hind limbs will show a flaccid paralysis, but loss of the pain circuit in area no. 3
will result in an absence of pain. This combination of signs indicates the most severe cord damage,
with the least favorable outlook for recovery.
The more rapidly the condition is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance for recovery, especially
when the signs indicate that the cord injury is of the less extended type. Drug therapy with corticosteroids
and other anti-inflammatory agents may help reduce the inflammation and swelling of the cord;
when coupled with pain relieving drugs, improvement may be seen immediately.
However, a relief of pain may reduce the dog's cautiousness and allow it to move around
enough to further protrude the disc. It is a good idea to cage the dog to restrict movement during its
convalescence. Most Frenchies love to rest anyway,
so this doesn't really work a hardship on them.
Physical therapy to help maintain muscle tone may include massage and manipulation of the limbs,
whirlpool baths, and warm pads applied to the back. Ultrasound may also help by increasing blood
flow to the affected area and often relieves the muscle spasms that cause much of the pain.
Good nursing care should also include keeping the skin clean and dry, and can prevent or minimize
pressure ulcers of the skin (bed sores). If there is a loss of bladder and bowel control, the bladder
should be emptied twice daily by manual pressure to help prevent bladder infections. Enemas may be
given to prevent fecal retention. Any or all of these measures may be necessary to support the dog
during its recovery, if the condition is treatable. However, if the condition does not respond to
either medical or surgical treatment, euthanasia would be the kindest option. Pain and paralysis is
no life for any dog ... especially a Frenchie.
If surgery is indicated (on which point the owner should consider the opinion of his veterinarian, and may
wish to consult a specialist for a second opinion), two surgical approaches are possible. One method for
surgically relieving the pressure on the spinal cord is fenestration, in which the protruding disc
material is removed from the intervertebral space by means of a needle or a scraper. This may be
done either by a ventral approach or by a lateral one (FIG. 4), and is more commonly done in cervical
disc protrusions. An opening is made in the outer annulus of the disc, and its nucleus is removed
through the opening. In this method, the spinal canal is not invaded, minimizing the danger
of further injuring the cord.
Another surgical treatment, more often used to decompress the cord in the thoraco-lumbar disc
protrusion, involves the removal of half or all of the dorsal arch of the vertebra (hemilaminectomy or
Fig. 4 shows the portion of the vertebra removed. If paralysis is present, surgery may be justified if
the animal's overall condition seems to warrant it. In the thoraco-lumbar area, where the canal is smaller
and cannot accommodate as much swelling, decompression should be done within five to seven days...
the sooner the better. It may be delayed longer in the cervical area.
Let us hope that by educating breeders and pet owners to recognize and deal with health problems in our
breed, we may see a continual improvement in the soundness of our pups as well as in their
If breeders will continue to communicate openly with one another about potential problems in their
lines as well as about desirable traits, and outbreed occasionally to reduce the incidence of problems,
the entire Frenchie breed will benefit in the long run.
We must consider health and longevity to be as important a breed characteristic as bat ears and
wrinkles; otherwise we are not really our Frenchies' Friend.
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