French Bulldog Sleep Apnea Problem

Hi Dr. Kraemer

I have a 5 year old french bulldog who underwent complete BOAS surgery to remove elongated soft palette, removed tonsils and laryngeal saccules as well as stenotic nares 2 years ago.

Bulldog breathing problem due to enlarged tonsils

The surgeon mentioned she has a partially collapsed larynx.

My French Bulldog Sleep Apnea / FAKE BREATHING

My question is that when she is awake and sitting up in the day, her breathing is near perfect.

However, starting about a year ago, when she goes to sleep, she has a terrible time breathing, where it sounds like her nose just closes off and she stops moving air – though her body will keep ‘breathing.’  She will go through 4-5 fake breaths until she has to wake herself up to gasp for a big breath of air through her mouth.

My French Bulldog Sleep Apnea / HELP ADVICE

I’ve found one position that works well to minimize this, but is there anything else you can think might be causing this?   (She is not overweight, she just had anesthetic dental cleaning about 3 months ago.)

1 Answers
Dr. Roy Kraemer Staff answered 7 months ago

Dr. Kraemer’s Answer to Terrible Sleep Apnea Problem in a Fr. Bulldog

Dear “Pretty Penny”

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is not uncommon in bulldogs and French bulldogs.

Terrible Sleep Apnea in a French Bulldog

A few common underlying causes are known”

Bulldog Collapsed Larynx

Fortunately, the partially collapsed larynx diagnosis is unlikely based on the details you provide. The collapsed larynx is an irreversible advanced BOAS stage and is usually manifested with severe stridor during excitement and activity.

Collapsed larynx is an advanced BOAS stage and carried poor prognosis

Bulldog and French Bulldog BOAS and Sleep Apnea

Flat-face brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is the biggest contributor to sleep apnea.

In your case, they were surgically repaired. You also mentioned a recent anesthetic procedure (dental cleaning), which was thankfully uneventful, and I assume nothing abnormal was noticed.

Bulldog and French Bulldog Sleep Apnea and OBESITY

Being overweight is a contributor to sleep apnea but you mentioned that your bully is lean

Weight loss is important for sleep apnea

Terrible Sleep Apnea in Bulldogs DIAGNOSIS:

  • Visual Oral Exam
  • Visual Larygeal Exam
  • Visual Phryngeal Exam

All those visual exams can only be done under anesthesia (sedation)

  • Radiographs
  • Dental Radiographs
  • Rhinoscopy
  • MRI
  • CT

Since surgery and recent dental were done you might need to consider Rhinoscopy, CT, MRI

Bulldog Sleep Apnea PREVENTIVE CARE:

  • Weight Loss
  • BOAS surgical Repair
  • Allergy Control
  • Humidifiers, EPA air purifier

Bulldog Sleep Apnea NECK POSITIONING

Prep the head to help stretch the neck. you can place a pillow under the chin. It will help extend the bully’s short neck and airways as well as reduce obstructive soft tissue.


You can try placing an inflated donut-shaped cone to keep the neck stretched while asleep. You can also tape to it a pulse electromagnetic loop (tPEMT) the help with inflammation.

French Bulldog Sleep Apnea Aid


You should always consider trying non-RX therapeutics to help

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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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