My French Bulldog is Having a Breathing Attack

My French Bulldog is Having a Breathing Attack

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Dogs with this condition may snore, sputter, cough, gag, mouth breathe, and even vomit. Due to its frequent occurrence in this breed, a veterinarian can quickly diagnose your Frenchie with BAOS. Choosing an accurate diagnosis can be tricky since part of the process involved in determining whether your dog suffers from BAOS includes x-rays and sometimes endoscopy

In this article you will know the answer to the query “My French Bulldog is Having a Breathing Attack“.

The sight of your beloved dog struggling to breathe can be scary. The first time you see them you might think they have something seriously wrong with them. If you have ever experienced a panic attack you know what its like to feel that you can not breathe.

My French Bulldog is Having a Breathing Attack

Breeds of this type are prone to this issue. Other types of dogs who often have breathing problems include pugs Boston Terriers and Shi Tzus. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to provide your little buddy with some comfort and you may not even need to panic.

My French Bulldog is having a breathing attack. What are the symptoms?

There is a condition called Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) that often affects these dog breeds.

Basically brachycephaly is when the soft tissues within the nose of your dog are more suited to the shape of a regular upper respiratory system causing the tissues to be cramped up within a rather small area.

Due to this unfortunate setup your French Bulldog may suffer from a variety of breathing issues including what you may call a breathing attack.

While certain breathing problems in your Frenchie may be nothing more than an annoyance others can prove detrimental to their health.

Dogs with this condition may snore sputter cough gag mouth breathe and even vomit.

Due to its frequent occurrence in this type of breed a veterinarian can diagnose your Frenchie with BAOS quickly.

Choosing for an accurate diagnosis can be tricky since part of the process involved in determining whether your dog suffers from BAOS includes x-rays and sometimes endoscopy.

Typically these procedures are done after your pet has been under anaesthesia which could pose a problem since dogs suffering from BAOS are more likely to die during anaesthesia as a result of breathing difficulties.

How can I stop my Frenchie from having a breathing attack?

The number of factors will determine whether or not you can prevent or alleviate your dogs breathing attack. A dog with excess fat is more likely to have breathing problems so it is important that you keep them at a healthy weight. You should also make sure that your dogs temperature is regulated. Too much heat makes French Bulldogs unable to function effectively. Your Frenchies respiratory struggles can be caused by heatstroke exhaustion and swelling of their airways.

Putting a harness around your dogs chest instead of a leash around their neck will reduce the strain on their throat.

In addition to allergies your dog may also suffer breathing difficulties due to allergies. It should be possible to treat this with allergy medications so that your snub-nosed dog does not experience excessive mucous and fluid production. Unfortunately you may be left with surgery as your only option if none of these options works.

Why do French Bulldogs struggle to breathe and gasp for air?

Because of their genetic makeup the French Bulldog has a lot of breathing problems.

Their small nostrils make it very easy for their nasal passages to become obstructed which requires them to sometimes exert extra effort to breathe. Your Frenchies respiratory irritation can get worse over time making it more and more difficult to breathe easily. Consequently you need to be extra cautious when exercising your dog as they can quickly become exhausted which could trigger a breathing attack. If you notice your dog is having trouble moving about you might want to take them to the vet as this can be a sign of respiratory inflammation.

What is the cost of breathing surgery for my French Bulldog?

In order to put your dog through surgery you have a few options to choose from. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1000 for stenotic nares resection and between $500 and $1500 for soft palate resection depending on the severity of your dogs condition where you live and how healthy your dog is.

The last resort should of course always be this. If you want to reduce respiratory irritation in your pet you should first try to improve its daily routine. Additionally to maintaining your dogs weight and temperature monitoring how much exercise he gets and eliminating neck collars you should also try to reduce any stressful environments for him.

Dogs suffering from a dry or sensitive nose can also benefit from nose creams or snout balms. While surgery is a tremendous help there are risks involved and you may have to pay more than just money for it. Your pet should be able to recover relatively quickly from his or her surgery assuming everything goes according to plan.

What is reverse breathing and is it dangerous?

In this case your dog is sucking in the air instead of pushing it out when its having a breathing or sneezing fit. Typically there will be a lot of head shaking fluids running from the nose and a bit of coughing or spluttering.

Neither reverse breathing nor reverse sneezing can be proven to be caused by one particular thing. In most cases it is caused by occasional influences and you should not have to stress too much about it.

Other articles on reverse sneezing have been written by me. There is one about reverse sneezing at night and one about reverse sneezing getting worse.

Like many other dogs and humans your Frenchie could have allergies when the seasons change.

Your hounds can experience minor muscle contractions in their throats when they get really excited which may temporarily cause them to reverse sneeze. Changing temperatures may also produce similar effects.

An episode of reverse breathing can also be caused by nasal mites collected from other dogs in the area.

As long as your dog is experiencing only infrequent episodes of reverse breathing it should not be a cause for concern. On the other hand if its a frequent occurrence its best to have your dog examined by a veterinarian because it may be an indication of an underlying allergy or respiratory problem that demands more delicate attention.

Several techniques can be used to help stop your dogs reverse breathing fits if it really bothers you. Your dog will have an easier time clearing its airways if you lightly massage its throat.

An attack may be triggered by over-stimulation or overheating so you might want to try cooling them down and putting them in a more relaxing environment.

If you lightly press on the tip of your dogs tongue this will cause the mouth to open wider than normal which will allow more air to enter the lungs and clear out whatever is causing the problem.

When all else fails block your dogs nose for a moment (no more than a few seconds) to make them swallow and hopefully get rid of whatever might be bothering them in their nasal passage.

What other respiratory problems might a French Bulldog have?

Smushed-face or flat-faced dog breeds more scientifically known as breeds with Brachycephalic Syndrome show a tendency to suffer from respiratory issues.

Aside from nasal sensitivity and allergies the structure of the French Bulldogs face and neck is less than ideal for easy and clean breathing. As a result of stenotic nostrils (narrow nostrils) airflow is restricted which does not help.

During the breeding process to create those adorable smushed-face dogs that appeal to so many people the dogs soft palate did not quite keep up with the changes. Excess amounts of obtrusive tissue accumulated in the upper airways of the Frenchies respiratory system thereby impairing proper airflow.

Your dog will sometimes breathe in odd bits of matter such as vomit that should not be in their lungs. In this case it is known as Aspiration Pneumonia and it can be quite dangerous because the foreign content usually hosts harmful bacteria leading to a nasty infection.

Additionally continued inflammation of their sensitive throat tissues can cause swollen tonsils which will make it even more challenging for your Frenchie to breathe.

Is it normal for a French Bulldog to breathe fast?

Compared to other breeds of dogs that have longer noses such as Golden Retrievers French Bulldogs do appear to breathe fast. 

The short nostrils and stubby nose of French Bulldogs do not help them breathe easily even at their best as has already been discussed. 

You will often see them with their mouths open to help them breathe. 

When they stand still and do not move at all their breath is a bit laboured and fast considering that they are not doing anything! 

Unlike a Golden Retriever thats just standing around a golden retriever thats just standing around would not open its mouth. 

Interestingly laying down and resting is when a French Bulldog breathes the easiest. 

Since they are in this position they would not be breathing fast and it may be the only time that they have their mouths completely shut! 

The breath of a French Bulldog will become much faster when they start running or moving. 

They will have their mouth open wider their tongue hanging out a bit and their chests moving up and down. 

Despite the fact that most Frenchies love nothing more than charging and jumping around like possessed dogs as their owner you need to keep an eye on how fast your dogs breathing is becoming. 

Keep these sessions short and sharp and allow your French Bulldog time to catch its breath in between. 

Remember that a French Bulldog needs about an hour of exercise a day and that this time should be divided into two or three walks to avoid any breathing difficulties. 

In hot weather French Bulldogs will also be panting more heavily and breathing faster. 

A dog pants as a way of cooling off. 

When it comes to controlling their body temperature dogs do not sweat as humans do. 

What can you do to help your French Bulldog keep cool and breathe more easily in hot weather? 

Three factors should be taken into account. 

  1. You should avoid the hottest parts of the day by walking early in the morning or late at night. 
  2. Ensure they have access to plenty of fresh drinking water. 
  3. Provide a relaxing atmosphere. There is nothing better than stone or hardwood floors especially if they are next to an open window or door!


Taking care of certain breeds can take more time and effort than others. It is important to be much more alert and cautious with French Bulldogs than you might be with a less sensitive breed. You should treat your Frenchie like a member of the family and provide the best possible care. It may be a good idea to hire a pet sitter if you spend a lot of time at work without a proper caretaker to keep your pooch company and ensure that they’re safe while you’re away.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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