top of page

Anesthesia and Frenchies

French Bulldogs cannot tolerate intravenous anesthesia and should have pure gas to put them under during surgical procedures-i.e. spaying/neutering, teeth cleaning etc.  Sevoflurane or Isoflurane is the best gas for this use. 

Note: A reversible intravenous anesthesia that lasts 20 seconds so the tube for gas may be inserted for gas administration should not be confused with using intravenous anesthesia through out the entire surgery.

Non-Reversible Intravenous anesthesia can easily cause death in this breed.   See below for protocol


Smaller tubing such as used for Chihuahua’s is the correct size for gas administration. 

To be safe Frenchies should not be put under anesthesia for a lengthy time until 6 months of age except in case of an emergency.  

Young and old Frenchies are more prone to have adverse reactions to anesthesia.    


Anesthesia pic 2 copy.jpg


Teeth Cleaning-  In most cases teeth cleaning at Vet clinics requires the use of anesthesia and is conducted by a vet tech and NOT the veterinarian.  Be sure and ask lots of questions about the clinic's teeth cleaning procedure particularly concerning the anesthesia used before leaving your Frenchie in their care. Make sure clinic is aware of the anesthesia issues with this breed and they will use gas instead of intravenous or ACEPROMOZENE. Also request the vet conduct the cleaning himself or herself to supervise the administration of anesthesia -even if it costs more.

French Teeth cleaning at vet.jpg

Anesthesia Protocol for Frenchies

Suggested French Bulldog Anesthesia Protocol

Lori Hunt, DVM

Breeder Veterinarian



No food for 12 hours before surgery. This is crucial. If the dog eats the morning of surgery, cancel the surgery for that day. Vomiting and aspiration can have devastating effects in a Frenchie. In an emergency, it’s possible your dog may have eaten. PLEASE tell your vet this info, as often it may affect how they recover your Frenchie.



  • Do a clotting time, full blood chemistry work-up and complete blood count before anesthesia.

  • Be sure an intravenous catheter will be placed prior to surgery.

  • Ideally, all dogs will be administered IV fluids during surgery.

  • Chest x-rays prior to surgery are always recommended by me for brachycephalic dogs, especially if the dog has had chronic breathing problems.



  • Use propofol induction anesthesia, intubate (place a breathing tube in the trachea) and maintain on gas anesthesia (isoflurane or sevoflurane).

 Satisfactory Options

  • Ketamine combined with diazepam (Valium)

  • Butorphanol (mild sedative for short procedures such as an x-ray) This is also called Torbugesic or Torbutrol

  • Dexdomitor (reversible anesthesia/sedative and an excellent choice for pre-anesthetic in place of Ace)

Use with Caution

  • Thiopental

  • Telazol

  • Hydromorphone


Do Not Give Frenchies

  • Acepromazine (sedative)

  • Pentobarbital (injectable anesthesia)

  • Xylazine (sedative)

  • Halothane (gas anesthesia)

Anesthetic Extras

(These would be in addition to the optimum anesthetic protocol listed above and are recommended for longer procedures)

  • Famotidine (Pepcid) or ranitidine (Zantac) injection (helps cut down on nausea and post-op vomiting, decreases risk of aspiration)

  • Dexamethasone can reduce post-op swelling and make recovery faster in cases where the dog's throat is irritated from the ET tube, when the dog's palate is very long, or following palate surgery. A single injection can be given in these cases.

Intubation vs. Masking/Coning Down

EVERY brachycephalic dog that goes under anesthesia should have an endotracheal tube (ET) placed in his or her trachea.  Always!  The airway must be protected at all times.  The endotracheal tube should be left in until the dog is awake.  Use intravenous propofol (or one of the other satisfactory drugs listed above) to induce anesthesia (which puts them under) and allows sufficient time to place the ET tube. From then on, anesthesia is maintained with sevoflurane or isoflurane.

Brachycephalic breeds, such as Frenchie, should NEVER be masked down with anesthesia. Masking down is when a mask is placed on an awake or mildly sedated dog’s muzzle. The mask is held in place by restraining the dog. The inhalant, which has a bad smell, is given at high levels. As the dog breaths more and more, he/she gets sleepy. The problem with masking down Frenchies is that they can become very anxious, fight the mask and not breath well. Most Frenchies have problems breathing in the first place, this just makes it worse, which results in lower oxygen levels. Ideally, reversible injectable sedatives are used and an endotracheal tube placed which is then attached to an anesthetic machine. This gives them the optimum oxygen supply.

Lori Hunt, DVM

Anesthesia pic 1.jpg
Anesthesia Protocol
bottom of page