Dog paralysis occurs as a result of a disruption in communication between the spinal cord and the brain. Sometimes, paralysis in dogs causes total immobility, while other times the dog paralysis may only be partial.
This article was inspired by our reader comments. Just to let you know that we pay attention to every comment you leave at the end, or your responses via email - we love it when you engage with us.
That said, I will now set out below one Real-Life incident that may help to set the scene for the rest of this piece. It's a conversation between a Frenchie Mom, Allison, and a Veterinarian, Justin about her 'suddenly' paralyzed French Bulldog...
Allison: "I woke up at 6:00 am and my french bulldog was suddenly paralyzed in the hind legs. I had noticed that for about 3 months she would sometimes slip when running. Until this morning she was active and normal. She is not drinking but will take treats. She urinated and defecated at 6:30 this morning but has not since. Is it okay for me to wait until tomorrow morning to take her to our regular vet? It will cost 3 times the price to take her to the Vet emergency clinic. If I decide to wait until morning and she does not urinate should I try to express the bladder myself?"
Dr. Justin: "Thanks for the question. Allow me to ask you a few questions so I can better assist you. 1. Is she able to move her back legs at all? 2. Pinch her toes really hard to elicit pain. Does she pull the leg back? Does she turn her head, growl, whine, like it hurts? Do this for both back legs”.
Allison: "She could feel me pinching she drew back her leg slightly.....however when I stand her up she will not correct her stance to a flat paw when I curl her foot under."
Dr. Justin: "Thanks for the information. It's good that she still has pain perception in her back legs. She most likely has a disc that has prolapsed and is placing pressure on her spinal cord. I would recommend you take her to the emergency vet right away. They can take an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis and start her on appropriate meds. If she does have a prolapsed disc, they will place her on anti-inflammatories, pain meds, and muscle relaxers. If you elect not to take her in, keep her as quiet as possible. Keep her in a cage to limit her mobility. Pinch her toes once every 12 hours. If she loses deep pain perception in her back legs you have 24 hours to elect surgery that gives her a 50/50 chance of walking again. If you are experienced in expressing bladders, you can do this every 8 hours to give her relief. Otherwise, I wouldn't attempt it without proper instruction. I hope this helps."
Allison: "If it is a prolapsed disc......what will her future be like? I work from home and can give any care needed. However.....ironically my 130 pound American Bulldog just had surgery for ingesting a Nylabone. It cost me $7000 just for the surgery over the course of his life he has cost me $13000 :( I've almost maxed my credit card because of that emergency surgery. What kind of costs and care may I be facing?"
Dr. Justin: "If there hasn't been any permanent damage to her spinal cord, once the swelling decreases she should start walking again. However, she may always have some neurologic deficit to her hind legs. To what extent is impossible to predict. However, if there is permanent damage she may never be able to walk again. This occurs commonly in some breeds, i.e. Dachshunds, and carts have been developed to prop up the hind legs, allowing affected animals to get around. These dogs generally need to have their bladders expressed daily, so they do require constant nursing care. However, I am always amazed at how happy these dogs seem, motoring around in their little carts. As far as the cost of surgery, it all depends on what part of the country you live in. Generally, you're looking at between 3000 - 5000 dollars. I hope this helps."
It was a very awful experience for Allison, we agree. Further to that, one thing we must acknowledge is the fact that she wasn't alone in her world, there are tons of Frenchie Moms and Dads that have had to go through such painful moments like her’s. So, if you have never had such, you need to keep yourself abreast of some critical information regarding French Bulldog paralysis. Dog paralysis is a scary thing, there are however a lot of things you can still do to cater for your Frenchie should things go south. Read on to also learn a handful of preventive measures to keep your Frenchie save.
SIGNS AND TYPES OF FRENCH BULLDOG PARALYSIS
There are 3 types of Dog Paralysis you should know:
- Tetraplegia: This is the worst type of French Bulldog Paralysis. Tetraplegia causes a complete inability to move any of his four legs.
- Paraplegia: This type of paralysis causes the dog the inability to move his hind legs.
- Paresis: Is a type of dog paralysis that causes restricted movement in dogs. Paresis still allows the ability to move but great difficulty. The uneasy movement usually causes them great pain.
One of the worst mistakes a French Bulldog owner would make is ignoring signs of dog paralysis earlier in their development until it becomes an emergency. Sometimes, it may be due to the fact that the Frenchie Mom or Dad actually does not know the signs or symptoms of paralysis in dogs. So, let's look at a few things you can look out for to ascertain whether your Frenchie pet might have an impending case of Paralysis.
Signs of French Bulldog Paralysis:
- Refusing to stand up or move his legs
- Dragging his hind legs while walking with the front legs
- Difficulty moving around
- Experiencing unusual pain in the neck, spine or legs
- Inability to control urination or bowel movements
It goes without saying that some of these symptoms are things you may never know about if you didn't engage in periodic check-up on your Frenchie. For instance, when you are playing with your French Bulldog, chances are you may easily identify a pain point. That said, we believe that prevention is better than cure. Hence, if you knew what causes Paralysis in French Bulldogs, you may stand a better chance of ensuring that it didn't happen to your Frenchie in the first place.
CAUSES OF FRENCH BULLDOG PARALYSIS
Paralysis in French Bulldogs may be caused by some obvious factors, such as when your Frenchie was involved in an accident and his bones were fractured making him unable to walk. Other times, however, some causes of paralysis in dogs may not be physical, such as when it occurred suddenly, like Allison’s case above, she woke up one morning and met her Frenchie completely paralyzed.
Let's look at some medical and environmental causes of French Bulldog Paralysis.
- Tick Bites:
This might be a shocker to you; like, how could Tick bites paralyze a dog? Unfortunately, research shows that Tick Bites are one of the most common and indeed the leading cause of Paralysis in dogs.
One of the harmful substances that Ticks inject in Dogs through bites is called Neurotoxins. Neurotoxins are an extensive class of exogenous chemical neurological insults that can adversely affect functions in both developing and mature nervous tissues. When ticks bite your Frenchie, they inject this harmful chemical into the bloodstream of the dog causing neuron paralysis, which affects communications between the brain and the nervous system of the dog. Neuron paralysis is responsible for most sudden paralysis in dogs, and when left unattended to the paralysis may spread and become fatal.
So, you have to make it a point of duty to keep your dog safe from ticks. Look out for signs that show your dog is being bitten by a tick. Such signs as loss of coordination and vomiting. If you noticed a sudden change in their tone and quality of bark, this is a good sign that your Frenchie has been bitten by a tick. It may interest you to read this article where we addressed wholesomely, the issue of French Bulldogs and Ticks, to get a better insight because symptoms of Tick Bites don't usually manifest immediately, in most cases it may take up to 6 - 9 months after the bite to start dealing with your dog. Stay safe!
- Congenital Diseases:
The second cause of French Bulldog paralysis on our list is Congenital diseases. Congenital diseases are dog health problems such as:
- Intervertebral Disc Disease, a.k.a. IVDD
- Degenerative Myelopathy, and
- Fibrocartilaginous Embolism
Intervertebral Disc Disease occurs when the cushioning of intervertebral discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column become ruptured or burst into the spinal cord space. IVDD mainly affects not only French Bulldogs but all chondrodystrophic breeds, i.e, all breeds with abnormally short legs. When IVDD occurs, the discs press on the nerves that run through the spinal cord, making it difficult for the dog to walk properly.
In the same vein, Degenerative Myelopathy, a.k.a. DM also attacks the nerves of your dog. The difference is that DM is common among older dogs and it is something that is rather developed progressively, over time rather than suddenly. It may lead to paralysis especially of the hind legs.
Lastly, among the congenital diseases that cause paralysis in dogs; when a small portion of a spinal disc breaks off of your dog's spinal column and blocks blood flow to a portion of his body, this gives rise to the type of paralysis called Fibrocartilaginous Embolism.
Fibrocartilaginous Embolism is usually not as serious as the rest. It's always a painless and temporary paralysis that corrects itself within a couple of weeks to its occurrence.
- Bacterial Infections:
There are multiple kinds of bacterial infections. Most common among bacterial infections capable of causing French Bulldog paralysis when they spread to the brain are Meningitis, Distemper, Rabies, among others.
- Malignant Tumors:
If a Tumor develops in your dog's spine, it can lead to paralysis. These Tumors are generally malignant and can have a life-threatening impact. Just like Tick Bites, Malignant Tumors are even slower and progressive in development, resulting in more gradual symptoms rather than sudden paralysis.
So, if you take care to monitor these causes and prevent them early enough, your Frenchie Bulldog may never be paralyzed. However, if your French Bulldog is paralyzed, there are a number of Treatment Options you can adopt.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR FRENCH BULLDOG PARALYSIS
Once your pet is paralyzed, the first thing you have to do is to carry out a diagnosis to understand the cause of the paralysis before you can settle for a specific treatment option. Consult a veterinarian to look into the cause of the condition. It all depends on the result of the preliminary tests conducted, you may go for further tests such as Lab test, X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs, and biopsies.
Depending on the diagnosed cause of the dog's paralysis, usually there are about 5 typical treatment options, they include:
- Physical Therapy
CAN I MANAGE MY FRENCH BULLDOG'S PARALYSIS AT HOME?
The answer is YES! you can manage your Dog's paralysis at home. If your French bulldog is paralyzed, it's not the END of his life, you can still help him live a happy life. Sometimes, your Vet may be able to help you work out a plan of how you can manage your french bulldog's paralysis at home. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Get your Frenchie a Wheelchair and Harnesses: Your dog will be able to adapt very well with a Dog Wheelchair and be able to get around with it. PLUS, with Harnesses, your dog will continue to go for a walk with you. There are special Harnesses designed for paralyzed dogs.
- Buy him Orthopedic Bed: Orthopedic beds will help him to cushion his pressure points and prevent them from forming ulcers. Ensure that the bed you get are washable so you can continue to keep him clean.
- Groom your Frenchie to adapt to his new life: Being paralyzed means that he won't be able to do something he would usually do at ease anymore. You should help him to get used to his new lifestyle. Let him know that you still care about him, notwithstanding his condition.
- Manage his Bladder: Paralysis may also cause him the inability to urinate on his own. So, you need to monitor him and know when to take him to urinate or defecate before he messes up his bed. If he ever urinated on his bed, ensure that you wipe it off, as it may burn his skin.
- Keep His Skin Healthy
- Take out a physical therapy routine like exercises.
Note that what you do to manage your Frenchie's paralysis at home should be strictly guided by your Specialized Vet's instructions.
Dogs can often survive paralysis with proper care. Paralysis may be gradual or sudden. It is important that you pay close attention to monitor your Frenchie's actions and inactions, as well as treat your friend’s health as an utmost priority in order to be able to detect and prevent incidents of French Bulldog paralysis. However, where it does occur, diagnose the cause, and adopt a treatment. Also, don't lose hope but continue to take good care of your best friend at home.
Have you experienced a case of paralysis in a French Bulldog? Do you have knowledge of any of the causes, symptoms or treatments outlined above? It'll be good if you shared your thoughts with us in the comment box below. You are most welcome to do that.