Overweight Bulldog Cannot Breathe

I need some advise…. For some time now our bulldog Buster has been suffering from breathlessness when doing very little exercise, sores on his feet and NOT wanted to go out. He is picked on by other dogs often when he does go out even though he does nothing to justify being picked on.  He has obviously taken him to the vet for answers and we have found out he is approximately 36kg, apparently quite a lot overweight. From taking him to the vet he was referred to a specialist based on strange blood results, an xray showing a potential enlarged heart and a echo something or other showing a potentially strange heartbeat. The specialist is saying his heart is perfect, nothing to worry about, he does not have heart/lung worm which he is being treated with as a precaution but thinks he may have a problem with his throat and possibly needs his soft palette reducing to help with his breathing. My question is, should I give him time to lose some weight or go ahead with the recommended surgery of throat and soft palette surgery?  If he wasn’t so over weight as has been suggested would he even be presenting with the symptoms in the first place. I don’t want to rush into surgery if all he needs to do is lose weight…..

Anita

Hi Anita,

Some Bulldogs have breathing that is so compromised it becomes a danger to their health.  If Buster cannot get enough oxygen due to soft palate problems then he may need surgery.  If he suffers fainting spells or his gums are constantly bluish in tone you may not want to wait.

If he is not in immediate danger then I’d recommend you put him on a diet and see how he does when he’s a proper weight.  Cut down his food and give him NO treats unless they are vegetables.  An overweight Bulldog has extra stress put on his heart which when combined with an already compromised breathing/cooling system is a recipe for disaster.  Don’t feel bad if he looks hungry – you are saving his life.

Consult your specialist about how urgent his breathing problems are.  From what you say it sounds like his main problem is he’s overweight and it’s true that a correct weight may reduce his distress significantly.

Here’s a photo of my Archie – you can see his waist indents just behind his ribs. You want to be able to see a waist on him when you look down from above. I exercise him daily and keep him trim.

A healthy Bulldog has a waist

As he loses weight you’ll be able to walk him more.  Start slowly and stop if he starts to breathe heavily.

Concerning his being picked on. Is Buster neutered?  I have found that intact dogs do get picked on by other dogs.  Otherwise he may be timid or lack confidence (each dog has it’s unique personality)  and they sense that.  A trainer could help you work on this.

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