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Sudden Death in pregnant Bulldogs

By Terri Cook & Michelle Peres

As long time breeders of Bulldogs, together with years of experience it can be devastating to lose a pregnant
female Bulldog just days before they are due to have their puppies. Breeding Bulldogs is a task that should
not be taken lightly and should be well thought out in advance.
In some of our past experiences pregnancy in a Bulldog carrying a large litter or carrying excess fluid
during their pregnancies can be dangerous, even life threatening. You should always consult with your
veterinarian about their care, proper diagnosis and course of treatment of your pregnant Bulldog.

It is not uncommon for Bulldogs to carry some extra fluid when they are pregnant, some will carry more
fluid than others. Bulldogs that are carrying larger litters or carrying excess fluid can put tremendous pressure
on their lungs; with all this pressure on their lungs carbon dioxide builds up causing respiratory acidosis. The
build up of acid in the Bulldogs body causes large amounts of potassium to be released from the cells into the
blood and sodium levels to drop. High potassium levels can cause heart arrhythmias and if the potassium
levels are not controlled it can lead to cardiac arrest. Some signs of high potassium levels are nausea; some
pregnant females will stop eating, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness or muscle tremors. Please note in the final
last week of a Bulldogs pregnancy it is not uncommon for some Bulldogs to experience some of the above
symptoms due to the pressure of carrying growing puppies. In the final days of a normal Bulldog pregnancy
without any complications some Bulldogs may stop eating, feel nausea or vomiting and some may experience
some loose stools or diarrhea. Experienced Bulldog breeders know their female Bulldogs normal behavior,
our advice if you feel your female Bulldog is over stressed during her pregnancy by
carrying a large litter or excess fluid you should seek the advice of your veterinarian.
In our own past experiences our Veterinarians evaluated our pregnant females and have done
blood work/blood panels checking their potassium, sodium, calcium and glucose levels. Depending on what
their blood work/panels results were determined the course of treatment for high potassium levels
administered by our veterinarian which were IV fluids of sodium chloride, sodium chloride which has
electrolytes and sodium i.e. salt, IV fluids may need to be given over several days in small amounts by your
veterinarian depending on results of their blood work/panels, also depending on their blood work/panels
your veterinarian may add glucose and calcium to their sodium chloride. Raising the level of sodium, glucose
and if needed according to their blood panels calcium will help bring down the high potassium levels back
into balance. If your pregnant Bulldog is carrying excess fluid, more excessive than normal some veterinarians
may also give a diuretic such as Lasix to increase urination, potassium is also eliminated from the body
through urine. Only Veterinarians should determine after evaluating your pregnant female if a diuretic
should be administered giving the proper dosage and duration it should be used.

In conclusion from our own past experiences in breeding Bulldogs this is some of the complications we have
experienced. We always seek the advice of our veterinarians, taking our pregnant females who are showing
to be stressed or having complications during their pregnancy to our veterinarian to be evaluated for proper
diagnosis and what course of treatment should be preformed.