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 thus in order to maintain airway patency they require active compensatory hyperactivity of their upper airway respiratory muscles.


Dr. Kraemer’s V4B 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.

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

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

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 even higher risk to those undergoing anesthesia.

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

Dr. Kraemer’s V4B B Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Safety RULE OF THUMB

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs OXYGEN

Bulldog Anesthesia safety and monitoring, post-op Oxygen Cage For an Elongated Soft Palate

It’s important to discuss any bulldog anesthetic and recovery concerns you may have with your veterinarian. Confirm that the surgical team is well-versed with the bulldog breed, the related anesthesia risks, and how to best neutralize them making the event a success and uneventful.

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs SAFETY TIPS & WARNINGS

Tip #1 OXYGEN: Dr. Kraemer implements a special “Bully Anesthetic Protocol” that provides 100% oxygen administration before anesthesia to help saturate your bulldog puppy lungs with extra oxygen.

Tip #2 BULLY PROTOCOL: Dr. Kraemer formulated a “Bulldog Anesthetic Protocol” that includes provisions for possible vomiting, laryngeal edema as well as pain management, and anti-anxiety all designed to reduce the common anesthetic complications we see in that breed.

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.

Tip # 4 SEVOFLURANE: Most veterinary hospitals use isoflurane for their anesthesia due to the vapor 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.

Tip # 5 MONITORING: During the anesthetic procedure all our bulldogs are on a constant IV fluid drip to maintain circulatory hydration and perfusion. Your bulldog will be attached to an ECG, blood pressure and temperature monitor, heart rate monitor, and a pulse oximeter that monitors tissue oxygen saturation.

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.

Tip #7 POST OP: 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. Pink is good, blue is bad.

Tip #8 POST OP MONITORING: 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.

Tip #9 CALM: At home, keep your bully relaxed and stress-free. If necessary ask for tranquilizers.

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs ECG

Pre Anesthesia ECG in English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

Warning #1 BCS: 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 the same day or otherwise postponed to a different day (typically 2 weeks later).

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).

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, 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”

Anesthesia in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs Safety PREVENTION IS CURE

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

Ask Dr. K / Q & A Request an Appointment Email Us