Aspiration Pneumonia

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French bulldogs is typically due to the inhalation of foreign material such as:

  • Vomit
  • Regurgitation
  • Gastric acid reflux

The injury to the lungs is due to the acute inflammation elicited by the foreign material which is often compounded by infection from bacteria present in the inhaled material.

The acute inflamation and infection is life-threatening

Bulldog Aspiration Pneumonia 5 X MUST KNOW

  1. The most common cause of bulldog aspiration pneumonia is BOAS  
  2. Therefore early repair of bulldog stentoic nares and elongated palate is critical.
  3. Inhalation of vomit regurgitated food, and gastric acid cause inflammation and infection of the lungs
  4. Treatment includes oxygen, rest, antiemetics, anti-reflux, and antibiotics
  5. Prevention includes Dr. Kraemer’s Aspiration Pneumonia Bundles 

Members of this bulldog community prefer prevention over RX

Inhalation Pneumonia Ultimate

Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs SYMPTOMS:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Coughing, fever
  • Discharge from the nasal passages
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bluish purplish tongue (cyanosis)
  • General weakness and intolerance to exercise due to oxygen deprivation.
  • Loss of energy and reduced appetite

Bulldog Aspiration Pneumonia


Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs CAUSE

The leading cause of bulldog aspiration pneumonia is untreated bulldog brachycephalic syndrome (BCS)

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) 

Gastric reflux, retching, and vomiting are caused by with a high vagal tone (vasovagal reflux) assoicated with BOAS.

Bulldog Aspiration Pneumonia / MEGAESOPHAGUS

Megaesophagus is an enlargement of the lower aspect of your bulldog esophagus due to injury of its mucosal lining from the above BCS-induced acidic gastric reflux.

Bulldog Inhalation Pneumonia / OTHER:

Less common are oral, laryngeal, and pharyngeal problems such as

bulldog immune-support

Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs / DIAGNOSIS:

EXAM: Physical exam

IMAGING: Chest Radiographs, endoscopy

BLOOD TEST:  A complete blood profile

CULTURE & CYTOLOGY: Bacterial culture and cell cytology, via a bronchoalveolar lavage, trans tracheal wash or endoscopy

WARNING: Tests that require sedation or anesthesia like radiographs, endoscopy, BAL, or TTW (a wash or lavage) should be modified or placed on hold till the patient status is improved.

Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs TREATMENT:

Severe cases are hospitalized.

Bulldog Pneumonia OXYGEN THERAPY

Oxygen supplementation might be initially required as part of a stabilizing treatment of your French bulldog puppy (oxygen cage or nasal cannula).

Bulldog Pneumonia IV FLUID THERAPY:

IV fluid administration to help maintain hydration and administer drugs.

Bulldog Pneumonia STREED FREE RESTING:

Rest, preferably in a cage, away from other animals, or active children is essential for the speedy recovery of your bulldog puppy.

Aspriation Pneumonia NEBULIZER & COUPAGE

Nebulization is critical for bulldog puppies with aspiration pneumonia. Alternatively, you can use your shower’s hot water as a steam room.

Bulldog Pneumonia / RX:

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-vomit
  • Anti-reflux

Bulldog Pneumonia / QUALITY NUTRITION:

Quality Food and quality nutritional support are critical






Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French Bulldog SURGERY:

If your bulldog puppy suffers from Brachycephalic Syndrome such as Stenotic Nares and/or Elongated Soft Palate you must have those conditions surgically repaired as soon as possible (as early as 8 months old).

Left untreated those conditions tend to lead to a series of problems that could lead to medical complications like aspiration pneumonia.

Dr. Kraemer’s Bulldog Aspiration Pneumonia RULE of THUMB:

Pneumonia in bulldog puppies is a serious condition that can lead to critical care hospitalization and several weeks of intense expenssive treatment.

bulldog Inhalation Pneumonia oxygen cage

The majority of my bulldog cases with aspiration pneumonia will recover with proper treatment and with the correction of the underlining cause.

Inhalation Pneumonia in Bulldogs TIPS & WARNINGS:

Bulldog Pneumonia CALM & RELAXED:

While recovering you should keep your bulldog primarily indoors, rested, and stress-free.

Bulldog Pneumonia NEBULIZER:

Use a nebulizer daily and then perform coupage (percussion therapy) as it helps to dislodge secretions from your bulldog lungs.

Bulldog Pneumonia COUPAGE:

Coupage can be performed by holding your hands cupped against your bulldog’s chest, and then putting your hands on your bulldog’s chest so that it sounds like a galloping horse.

You should be firm enough to dislodge the secretions from your sick bulldog lungs but gentle enough not to hurt your French bulldog puppy.

Bulldog Pneumonia PRE-OP PREP:

A few hours of fasting before anesthesia is recommended to avoid vomiting and aspiration.

However, the ideal length of the fast is 8 hours, with water up to 2 hours before.

Dr. Kraemer’s Bulldog Aspiration Pneumonia TIPS WARNINGS:

Bulldog Pneumonia OTC RX WARNING:

Don’t use over-the-counter RX like cough suppressants (the cough is good it helps to remove the “bad stuff” from the lungs)


Don’t stop the antibiotic too soon, usually, 4 weeks duration is required.

Bulldog Inhalation Pneumonia portable oxygen cage

Bulldog Pneumonia R/C EXAM:

Recheck chest radiographs should be taken weekly to evaluate your bulldog puppy’s recovery and healing progress

Bulldog Pneumonia ROTATE:

A bulldog with pneumonia should not be left lying on its side in an inactive state for more than two hours.

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

Aspiration Pneumonia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs puppies PREVENTION IS CURE

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

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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