Sedation / Anesthesia Adult

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

Anesthesia in bulldogs and French bulldogs is riskier than in other dog breeds because 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, bulldogs and French bulldogs under general anesthesia CAN NOT maintain passive respiration.

In order to maintain airway patency bulldogs require active compensatory hyperactivity of their upper airway respiratory muscles.

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs SAFETY:

Anesthesia in bulldogs and French bulldogs requires an active compensatory dependency, but bulldogs suffering from brachycephalic syndrome require even greater active respiratory compensation.

Those bulldog airway and laryngeal conditions can further exacerbate anesthetic complications.

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


Bulldogs and French bulldogs suffering from the brachycephalic syndrome are likely to also exhibit a high vagal tone due to excessive upper airway negative pressure, which often will trigger vomiting and gagging known as vasovagal reflux.

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 on any bulldog and 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 with the bulldog breed and the related anesthesia risks and how to best minimize them thus making the event a success and uneventful.

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Safty TIPS & WARNINGS


Bulldog Anesthesia Safety Tip #1 OXYGEN:

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 Tip #2 BULLY PROTOCOL:

Dr. Kraemer formulated a “Bulldog Anesthetic Protocol” that includes provisions for possible vomiting, and laryngeal edema as well as pain management, and anti-anxiety all designed to reduce the common anesthetic complications we see in that breed.

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety Tip #3 ECG & LAB:

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 Tip # 4 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

Bulldog Anesthesia Saftey Tip # 5 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. CAPANGRAPH: monitoring of the concentration or partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO. 2)
  7. 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 Tip #6 RECOVERY:

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

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety Tip #7 POST OP 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 Tip #8 POST-OP BODDY TEMP:

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 temp is low heating should be provided

Bulldog Anesthesia Safety Tip #9 CALM & RELAX:

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

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs ECG


Bulldog Anesthetic Safeties Warning #1 BOAS:

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).

Bulldog Anesthetic Safeties Warning #2 ASPIRATION:

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).

Bulldog Anesthetic Safeties Warning #3 COMPLICATIONS:

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 extubation and are potentially deadly.

We always keep the endotracheal tube with 100% oxygen 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.

Warning HOME CARE #4:

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

“An Ounce Of PREVENTION Is Worth A Pound Of CURE”

Pododermatitis in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs store

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