French Bulldog Eye Problems
French Bulldogs can have many eye problems throughout their lives, some naturally occurring, others caused by accidents or malpractice (more on this below), which can become very detrimental for French bulldogs. Like all brachycephalic breeds (short-muzzle, protruding lower jaw-, bulging eyes), French Bulldogs are susceptible to a range of eye health problems. Most commonly, these eye health problems fall into 4 distinct categories:
- Corneal Ulcers
- Cherry Eye
- Dry Eye
- Eye Trauma
Corneal Ulcers in French Bulldogs
What It Is
Corneal Ulcers are one of the most common and serious French Bulldog eye problems. The medical name for corneal ulcers in dogs is Ulcerative Keratitis. The cornea, a transparent layer over the iris of the eye in a French Bulldog, loses deep layers of tissue. These ulcers are classified as either deep or superficial. The cornea is composed of three distinct layers, the epithelium, the stroma, and the final and deepest layer, the Descemet’s membrane.
Superficial corneal ulcers only penetrate the epithelium and typically heal with 1-2 weeks with proper treatment. Deep corneal ulcerative keratitis penetrates through the specialized skin cells of the epithelium and the stroma and into the Descemet’s membrane. All of these layers are clear, like a window pane, and because they’re clear, corneal ulcers can only be identified using a specialized dyes which react to the damaged cells in the cornea, temporarily coloring the corneal ulcer a bright green color.
Why Corneal Ulcers are Serious
All French Bulldog eye problems can be serious, depending on how much time transpires before you get to a veterinarian. Corneal Ulcers can lead to blindness. Corneal Ulcers are one of the more serious French Bulldog eye problems. Superficial corneal ulcers aren’t as serious as deep corneal ulcers. Deep corneal ulcers penetrate the stroma and pose the risk of allowing fluids in the eye to leak out. If the erosion goes through the epithelium and stroma to the level of Descemet’s membrane, a descemetocele is formed. A descemetocele is a very serious condition. If Descemet’s membrane ruptures, the liquid inside the eyeball leaks out, the eye collapses and irreparable damage occurs.
What Causes Corneal Ulcers in French Bulldogs
Of all French Bulldog eye problems, corneal ulcers have the most causes. Corneal ulcers can be a result of trauma to the eye when playing alone or especially with other dogs. They can be a result of “rubbing and digging” on the carpet or furniture (French Bulldogs are especially notorious ‘diggers’), or rubbing of the eye with the paw or dew claw. Most commonly of all, corneal ulcers are caused by chemical burns from bad grooming practices. It is critical to pay extra special attention when bathing your French Bulldog to not get ANY soap whatsoever in their eyes. Flea shampoos and even normal dog shampoos can cause severely painful burns in your dog’s eyes leading to even more painful corneal ulcers. A veterinarian confided in us that the number 1 reason they see corneal ulcers in dogs is because groomers and dog owners do not shield their dog’s eyes when shampooing, rinsing, or bathing their dogs. It is critical to do everything you can to avoid getting soap in your dog’s eyes.
Less commonly, corneal ulcers can be caused by bacterial or viral infections and other diseases. A disease may develop elsewhere in the body and spread to the eyes. Similarly, a disease can develop in the eyes and spread elsewhere in your French Bulldog, but this uncommon. However, you should always ask your vet to check for potential diseases when examining your Frenchie for corneal ulcers. It never hurts to check.
Corneal ulcers are naturally more common in dogs with proud eyes, such as French Bulldogs, pugs, boxers, English bulldogs, and so on. The protruding eyes result in increased exposure to trauma by virtue of a shortened muzzle and a larger exposed surface other than other breeds.
How Are Corneal Ulcers Treated?
A good veterinarian will prescribe both antibiotics and a strong ophthalmic ointment. Typically, a veterinarian will prescribe a round of Gentamicin, Ciprofloxacin, Previcox (or other NSAID), and sometimes a “serum” made from your dog’s own blood.
What Can I Get To Help My French Bulldog Heal?
First and foremost, always take your French Bulldog to a qualified veterinarian. Corneal ulcers are serious and your Frenchie can lose their vision (literally go blind) if you do not get them treated within 24 hours of show of symptoms. As an adjunct to your veterinarian’s prescriptions, we recommend the following products:
1. A Cone Your Dog Can Stand to Wear
Cones are notoriously uncomfortable for dogs, hence the “cone of shame” joke. When we have to put a cone on our Frenchie, he freezes in place and refuses to move until we take it off. It’s tragic. However, we’ve had better luck with inflatable cones. They’re less cumbersome and seemingly more comfortable to wear than the traditional plastic cone. A cone is indispensable when trying to prevent your French Bulldog from scratching his eyes while healing. $15 @ Amazon.
2. Ophthalmic Ointment – Over the Counter
Your veterinarian will prescribe medications for corneal ulcers, but having a well-stocked medicine cabinet for your French Bulldog if their eyes get dry or you’re unable to reach an emergency 24-hour veterinarian. Remember: always take your French Bulldog to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect they have any kind of eye problem. $14.88 @ Amazon.
3. A Safe, Over-the-Counter NSAID for Dogs
NOTE WELL: Always consult a veterinarian before giving your dog medications. Your French Bulldog could be allergic to over the counter pet medications and the results can be fatal. Always ask a vet first. That said, we keep a bottle of these pet-only aspirins around to help with pain from injuries. Corneal Ulcers are incredibly painful for dogs. In between prescriptions from your veterinarian, these can help keep your Frenchie from suffering too much. $9.77 @ Amazon.
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