French Bulldogs are not immune from the ravages of aging, just like their masters. It may be difficult to believe that your precious pet is no longer the active, bouncy pup you brought home from the breeder, but reality dictates that you must adjust accordingly when you have an old French Bulldog. As a senior dog, your pet has specific care requirements that will keep him healthy and happy for many years to come.
Caring For An Old French Bulldog
After your bulldog’s sixth birthday, it’s time to schedule a “senior” health check-up with your veterinarian. On an annual basis, the vet will perform a number of tests, including blood tests, kidney function analysis, and an overall physical evaluation. Older dogs are more susceptible to tumors, so be careful to investigate even the most minor of lumps or bumps. Biopsies are often the best way to ensure early detection of diseases and/or serious illness.
Health Problems and Older French Bulldog can suffer from
Like humans, dogs will slowly lose the sharpness of their senses with time. Eyesight, hearing, smell, dry nose, and taste are all susceptible to Father Time, but that should not prevent your pet from leading a fulfilling life with your help.
Arthritis and failing eyesight will hinder your dog’s mobility if your house has many steps and stairs. Walk with your dog and guide him as soon as you notice that he is having difficulty. Night vision may also be a problem, and may dissuade him from going out to relieve himself at night. In this case, accompany your dog after sunset for some trips and judge whether he becomes more confident.
Severe arthritis may demand a pain medication prescription from your vet. Your senior bulldog may also benefit from popular supplements like MSM and glucosamine-chondroitin, as well as shark cartilage-based solutions.
Difficulties with taste and smell can have a negative impact on your bulldog’s appetite if you do not take action. Consider making some healthy additions to his favorite meals to make them more enticing. Consider some home-cooked meals as well as special canned food delights to stimulate his hunger.
Refusal to eat may also be the result of serious dental problems. Regularly test your dog’s breath; extremely bad breath is often an indication of advanced tooth decay or the need to remove some teeth. Colored teeth (e.g. brownish, greenish?) indicate that a dental check-up at the veterinarian is overdue.
Here are twelve tips to care for your Old French Bulldog:
- Schedule regular veterinarian visits for your Frenchie – Your French Bulldog needs should be examined at least once a year even if he appears healthy. In an aging Frenchie many diseases may remain hidden and not reveal themselves immediately without proper testing. Catching a serious disease early in its onset is much cheaper to treat than if it fully manifests.
- Keep an eye on your dog’s weight – One of the biggest overall health indicators is body weight. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your senior French bulldog is at an ideal weight, overweight, or underweight. An overweight French bulldog can have a higher incidence of diseases such as heart disease, skin disease, diabetes, even different types of cancer. Keeping tabs on your dog’s weight can help you make sure they stay healthy as possible.
- Feed your aging French Bulldog a high quality diet – As your Frenchie ages his nutritional needs change as well. Talk to your Vet and see if your senior Frenchie might do better on a dog food made for older dogs. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet for your Frenchie.
An overweight French bulldog must be fed carefully to ensure that all nutrient needs are met while still allowing for weight maintenance or weight loss. As an example, there are options for specialized dog foods that are lower in calories as well as those that are high in L-carnitine available for obese or overweight dogs. Carb balance is a factor for an older French Bulldog as this can help keep your overweight dog feeling satiated.
- Supplement with healthy fatty acids – Fish oils have many health benefits including improving brain health, skin health, coat health, and immune health. Fish oils for dogs have also been shown to be useful for dogs with mobility issues due to arthritis or other degenerative joint diseases.
- Help support healthy joints for your French Bulldog – Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are also beneficial for senior dogs. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are compounds found in healthy cartilage. Aging French bulldogs experience joint pain when the protective cartilage breaks down, joint fluid is lost, and the joint health is negatively affected. Glucosamine has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce pain and aid in cartilage regeneration. Chondroitin sulfate has water-retaining properties that has been shown to aid in joint lubrication and joint health. This combination of supplements works well when paired with essential fatty acids.
- Consider supplementing with probiotics – Healthy bacteria in the digestive system of your French bulldog is an important factor in your dog’s health. Probiotics are designed to replace or augment the healthy bacteria in the gut that can be diminished due to illness, stress, medications like antibiotics, and a variety of other causes.
Gut health is a delicate balance. When levels of healthy bacteria drop below proper levels, the bad bacteria in the gut take over. This imbalance can cause all sorts of digestive issues and greatly affect immune function of your Frenchie. Supplemented probiotics can help keep the flora levels balanced. Having healthy gut health can provide important benefits for an aging French bulldog above and beyond just digestive health. There is evidence that probiotics boost the immune system which can strengthen your senior French bulldog’s defenses against infections and auto-immune diseases.
- Consider a modified diet if your older dog has kidney or heart disease – Diets lower in sodium are often recommended for senior dogs with heart disease. A modified diet that helps to control levels of phosphorus, calcium and electrolyte are recommended for dogs with kidney disease. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best course of treatment and diet for your French Bulldog.
- Maintain good dental health for your French Bulldog – Oral hygiene is an often-overlooked but important factor in your French bulldog’s overall health. The thought of using a toothbrush on your French Bulldog may seem silly but it is very important to his overall health. If your Frenchie has an oral health issues he’s dealing with pain that you may not fully comprehend. If you leave these oral health issues untreated can enter the bloodstream and affect his kidneys, heart, or liver.
Veterinarians report that 85% of French Bulldogs over the age of 4 years suffer from some form of periodontal disease. This is a painful oral condition that can lead to tooth infection and even tooth loss. While you may think of brushing your dog’s teeth as a silly idea it can help keep your French Bulldog’s mouth healthy. If you cannot brush your dog’s teeth, consider dental treats and toys that help keep the teeth clean.
- Exercise your senior French Bulldog. A proper exercise routine can help keep your older French Bulldog lean. Proper exercise and health can maintain healthy joints and muscles. You will want to tailor your French Bulldog’s exercise needs to his individual requirements. Frenchies are not an endurance breed so a brisk walk around the block may be more than enough exercise.
If your senior French Bulldog is not used to exercise, start slow and gradually increase the frequency and intensity. Be sure to discuss your French Bulldog’s exercise routine with your veterinarian. Be sure to take care because French Bulldogs are known as brachycephalic dogs and on hot and humid days they can have a hard time and overheat quickly.
- Give your senior French Bulldog lots of toys to keep him occupied – Play is like a fountain of youth for French Bulldogs and toys are great for your dog. Food puzzle toys, for example, are not only useful for entertainment but for exercise purposes as well. These types of French Bulldog toys are great to keep their mind and bodies active.
- Make sure your senior French Bulldog has a good dog bed – As your French Bulldog ages his needs in a bed may change too. The best French Bulldog bed recommendation can change as your dog ages. French bulldogs with arthritis might benefit from sleeping on a special dog bed with egg crate or memory foam material as it can distribute weight and help alleviate joint point. There are lots of options for dog beds for French Bulldogs and even specialized options for older dogs.
- Provide your senior French Bulldog with special accommodations too. There are many ways you can make senior life for your French Bulldog more comfortable. Ramps or Dog Steps can be used to make getting around easier to navigate for senior French Bulldogs. Even providing carpeting or rugs over hard-surface flooring can help your arthritic dog gain his footing and make it easier for him to get around.
Older bulldogs need special attention, but owners can save themselves long-term grief by taking the proper precautions. Consult your veterinarian on a regular basis and make sure your Frenchie gets his annual or semi-annual checkups. Then, it’s a matter of taking steps at home to make your geriatric French Bulldog as happy and comfortable as possible.