My French bulldog Fainted – What to do

My French bulldog Fainted - What to do 1

Lack of blood flow to your dog’s brain may cause a temporary loss of consciousness or fainting. No matter how healthy your dog may look, it is vital to understand the root cause of the lack of blood flow. Several reasons cause fainting, and experts’ categorize them into:

· Certain medications that cause a low blood pressure
· Heart-related problems, which contribute to blood flow interruption to the brain
· Non-heart related issues such as low heart rate caused by pressure on the vagus

Before fainting, your French Bulldog may exhibit signs of unexpected weakness and incoordination, whimpering, or have a glassy-eyed look, as well as leg stiffness. Coughing, straining to go to the toilet, or trying to pull on their collar often can cause loss of consciousness. In most instances, a faint should last no more than 30 seconds, and your French Bulldog should rapidly return to its normal self.

What can be the reasons for your dog suddenly collapsing?

A dog’s ear has various tubes filled with fluid that send signals to the brain regarding the body’s sense of balance. Also, the eyes receive and transmit signals to the brain. The dog’s brain integrates these signals to ensure the body maintains an upright position.

For optimal functioning, these organs depend on nutrients and oxygen. The cardiopulmonary system also plays a significant role in maintaining certain postures. For example, suppose oxygen and nutrients are not delivered to the muscles. In that case, the dog cannot maintain its tonicity, keeping the body in an upright position.

That is also the case with the brain, which is sensitive to the slightest fluctuations of oxygen levels in the blood. That can lead to a loss of control of the muscles.

The most common causes of a sudden collapse in dogs include:

Drug overdose and acute toxicity

Snake venom, rat poison, and xylitol are among the substances that can provide sudden weakness that can lead to collapse. Dogs that are diabetic and receive insulin are at a higher risk of collapse because of hypoglycemia. That results in an unusually high dose of insulin that leads to blood sugar reduction and blood pressure.

Nervous System Disease

As mentioned earlier, the brain integrates a wide range of information related to posture maintenance. Problems in the neural pathways to the dog’s brain can also cause canine collapse. Diseases such as intervertebral disk, fibrocartilaginous emboli, and myasthenia gravis are implicated in acute collapse development.

Respiratory conditions

Your dog’s blood gets oxygen through the lungs. When dogs breathe, they fill their lungs with oxygen, diffuses into the blood through tiny capillaries. However, any obstruction in the dog’s airways can collapse due to insufficient oxygen reaching the blood and body tissues. Collapsing trachea, bronchitis, pulmonary edema, throat swelling or blockage, and pneumonia can also cause sudden dog collapse.

Musculoskeletal diseases

Among other conditions, lumbosacral disease (lower back arthritis) and hip dysplasia (hip arthritis) are musculoskeletal disorders. Symptoms such as trouble standing up, limping, or failure to sit up or leap are usually present and get worse for days, weeks, or months before the canine collapse with musculoskeletal causes.

Blood diseases

Internal bleeding is among blood-related diseases caused by extreme anemia, a ruptured tumor or organ, leukemia, and polycythemia (excess of red blood cells that cause abnormally thick blood). A sufficient amount of blood (with oxygen carried by red blood cells) is needed for the brain and muscles to function properly. If this fails, the system will collapse.

Diseases of the heart

The heart is the organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. The organ ensures a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen in the body and removes byproducts for excretion. An inadequate supply of blood, especially to organs that contribute to maintaining posture, can cause collapse. Heart diseases that can cause canine collapse include; cardiac arrhythmias, congenital heart disease, pericardial disease, acquired valvular heart diseases, and heartworm disease.

My French bulldog Fainted - What to do 2

Is my dog fainting or having seizures?

When determining whether a seizure or fainting has occurred, the veterinarian considers three key factors: actions before the incident, the appearance of the episode, and the patient’s recovery.

The dog’s actions before the event: It might be a syncopal episode if your pet was barking loudly, running, urinating, defecating, or coughing. Action causes dogs to faint. Seizures can happen at any time, whether resting or involved in an activity. Seizures are not caused by something unusual. Besides, seizures are accompanied by whining or agitation that may be part of the pre-seizure process. Dog fainting is sudden and without notice.
What the episode looked like: Even for an experienced veterinarian, distinguishing the behavior during a syncopal episode and a seizure can be difficult at times. A clinician assesses movement as one of the most important aspects. Your dog is likely to be having a seizure if they become limp. Patients who have gone through a syncopal episode have trouble with their legs when getting up. Seizures create a movement of legs that includes stiffness, rhythmic paddling, and tremoring.
How fast was the recovery? Dogs that faint suddenly recover within a brief period. The episode only lasts a few seconds. However, a dog that experiences seizures shows lethargy or prolonged disorientation after an attack.

In general, the two can seem similar, making it difficult to tell the difference. However, a dog will collapse without a warning when fainting, unlike a seizure where the dog will act strangely before and after the event.

What should I do if my dog faints?

When your dog faints, do not panic. Start by assessing if your pet is fully conscious. Check the dog’s heartbeat if it is unconscious. If your pet is small, check the heartbeat by placing your hand on the V of your pet’s chest. Try feeling the heartbeat at the ribcage level of a large breed where its left elbow touches the chest when flexed.

You can also try to feel your pet’s pulse in the groin area as you look for the rise and fall of the dog’s abdomen and chest to determine if the dog is breathing.

You should administer chest compressions if you notice a lack of heartbeat, pulse, chest, or abdominal movement that shows breathing. If it is not possible, rush your pet to the vet.

Ensure to position your dog by placing its head slightly lower than the rest of the body. This helps facilitate the blood flow to the brain and prevents fluids in the oral cavity from entering the lungs.

However, if your pet is conscious, ensure to take note of the events that occurred before the dog collapsed, such as what he was doing at the time, how long it has been on the ground, as well as its reaction after recovering. Ensure to write these down to remember to tell your vet if the dog collapses again.

Even after your pet recovers, ensure to call your vet and explain exactly what happened. Transport your pet inside its crate if he requests to examine it. Some dogs come out from collapse in a disoriented and confused state. Some can be aggressive and even bite their own master.

Should I take my dog to the vet after a seizure?

Pet owners also ask what to do and what not to do if their dog has a seizure. Some get confused about whether to call a vet or monitor the dog closely until it recovers. Seizures can be frightening, and they always appear to last an eternity even though they only last a few minutes. The following information will help you determine if you need to visit a veterinarian.

Seizures that last more than 5 minutes are called long-term seizures. It is a clear indication that your dog is suffering from a severe condition that needs a veterinarian’s attention.
When more than three seizures occur within a 24-hour cycle, you need to visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Seizures that start before your pet has fully recovered from the last seizure.
If your dog does not recover from the seizure within 6 hours, see a veterinarian.
If your dog also exhibits other symptoms such as vomiting, difficulty breathing, not eating, fatigue, lethargy, or any signs of bleeding or diarrhea, consult your veterinarian.

Over minutes to hours, your dog should gradually return to normal. You should give it access to stairwells, food, and outdoors once he behaves normally. Please call your veterinarian or a nearby veterinary emergency department if your dog appears to have seizures or has a second seizure.

My French bulldog Fainted - What to do 3


Hopefully, you will never experience this unfortunate event with your dog. However, you now have some additional knowledge to help you cope with the situation if you do. Identifying and treating the root cause is important as early as possible. Of course, if you believe you have witnessed a seizure or sudden fainting case (or are unsure which), don’t hesitate to get in touch with an experienced veterinarian.

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Marshall Newton

Marshall Newton stands as an authoritative figure in the world of dog care and training, enriched by over 40 years of hands-on experience. His lifelong journey with dogs has seen him own over 20 canines from a diverse range of breeds, making him a versatile expert in the field. Marshall's expertise doesn't stop at general dog care; he's also a specialist when it comes to French Bulldogs. As the founder of "Little French Dog," Marshall provides invaluable advice and resources for both new and seasoned Frenchie owners. Whether it's understanding breed-specific traits or discovering new care tips, Marshall is the go-to resource in the Frenchie community. Interested in learning more? Feel free to connect with Marshall on LinkedIn for a deeper dive into his professional background and a wealth of canine insights.

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