Sedation / Anesthesia Adult

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

In bulldogs, the upper muscle of respiration becomes relaxed and inactive during general anesthesia. This inactivity is not a problem for most dogs since they have the ability to maintain respiration passively; however, this isn’t the case for your English Bulldog or French Bulldog.

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

In contrast to other breeds, under general anesthesia, bulldogs and French bulldogs cannot maintain passive respiration.

Bulldogs require active compensatory hyperactivity of their upper airway respiratory muscles to maintain airway patency.

Anesthesia in bulldogs and French bulldogs is riskier than in other dog breeds because

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs SAFETY:

While all anesthetized bulldogs must actively compensate, bulldogs and French bulldogs with brachycephalic syndrome require even more active respiratory compensation.

Bulldogs and French bulldogs suffering from elongated soft palate,  and stenotic nares,  are at higher anesthetic risk than other bulldogs.

Bulldog Anesthesia/VOMITING & GAGGING

Bulldogs and French bulldogs with brachycephalic syndrome are more likely to have a high vagal tone due to excessive upper airway negative pressure, which frequently causes vomiting and gagging, a condition known as vasovagal reflux.

ECG monitors in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

Bulldog Vomiting & Gagging Aspiration Pneumonia

Retching, gagging, and vomiting can lead to aspiration, with aspiration pneumonia being the most likely outcome.

Pneumonia can have dire consequences for any bulldog and is an even higher risk for those undergoing anesthesia.

You must and get vomiting and gagging under control before scheduling any anesthetic procedure. 

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Safety RULE OF THUMB


It’s important to discuss bulldog anesthetic and recovery concerns with your veterinarian.

You should confirm that the surgical team is well-versed in the bulldog breed, the related anesthesia risks, and how to best minimize them, thus making the event a success and uneventful.

Inhalation Pneumonia Ultimate

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Safety TIPS & WARNINGS

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety OXYGEN TIP:

Dr. Kraemer implements a special “Bully Anesthetic Protocol” that provides 100% oxygen administration before anesthesia to help saturate your bulldog puppy’s lungs with extra oxygen.

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety BULLY PROTOCOL:

Dr. Kraemer developed a “Bulldog Anesthetic Protocol” that includes provisions for possible vomiting and laryngeal edema, as well as pain management and anti-anxiety medication, all with the goal of reducing the breed’s common anesthetic complications.

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety ECG & LAB:

In all our anesthetic cases, bulldogs and other breeds have a heart-healthy screen with an ECG and a cardiologist report, as well as pre-anesthetic blood lab work.

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety/SEVOFLURANE:

Most veterinary hospitals use isoflurane for their anesthesia due to the vapor’s low cost.  For the safety of our bulldog anesthetic patients, Dr. Kraemer only uses Sevoflurane.

Sevoflurane is the gold standard in human anesthesia and is considered the safest and most reliable inhalant anesthetic.

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety/MONITORING:

During the anesthetic procedure, all our bulldogs are:

  1. IV FLUID: On a constant IV fluid drip to maintain circulatory hydration and perfusion.
  2. ECG MONITOR: Your bulldog will be attached to an ECG
  3. TEMPERATURE MONITOR: Provide a heated table and heated blankets
  5. PULSE OXIMETER: monitoring tissue oxygen saturation.
  6. JAPAN GRAPH: monitoring of the concentration or partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO).
  8. PAIN-CONTROL:  pain control helps to maintain safety and comfort.

Among others, pain management helps maintain optimal blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety RECOVERY:

After anesthesia, we keep the endotracheal tube in place with 100% oxygen (rather than room air) for as long as we can. Bulldogs will tolerate the tube even semi-awake.

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety GUM COLOR:

For post-anesthesia home supervision, keeping your bully in a sternal position with the tongue pulled/stretched should help to open the upper airways and will allow you to monitor the color.

Your bulldog gums and tongue color rule of thumb: PINK IS GOOD / BLUE IS BAD

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety POST-OP TEMPERATURE:

For post-anesthesia home monitoring, we advise that you keep your bulldog well-ventilated. If excessive panting is observed, check their temperature. If the temperature is above 100F, I usually recommend that you turn a fan on and position it facing your bulldog. If the temperature is low, heating should be provided

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety CALM & RELAX:

At home, keep your bully relaxed and stress-free. If necessary, ask for tranquilizers.


Bulldog Anesthetic/BOAS WARNING:

We always check the palate and saccules (see BCS) during induction.

If I see abnormalities, I always repair them first to avoid post-anesthesia complications such as laryngeal edema.

Elective surgery can be done on the same day or otherwise postponed to a different day (typically 2 weeks later).


If there is a history of gagging, vomiting, and, of course, coughing, we always take chest X-rays before putting your bully “under” to rule out pneumonia (see our chapter on Aspiration Pneumonia).


Contrary to what you might believe, my biggest concern is not the duration of time that your bully is under anesthesia but rather the post-anesthesia recovery stage.

Complications like laryngeal edema, pneumonia, and pulmonary and cardiac irregularities, typically erupt after extubating and are potentially deadly.

We always keep the endotracheal tube with 100% oxygen for as long as we can, and a “bulldog-certified” staff member is seated next to your bulldog for the first hour of recovery to constantly monitor color, respiration, temperature, and vital signs.


For the first 12–24 hours after an anesthetic procedure, I don’t recommend keeping bulldogs unattended.

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Bulldogs and French Bulldogs anesthesia warnings

*This guide was compiled courtesy of Dr. Kraemer and is a “must-read” manual for any current or future bully owners