The French Bulldog is the fourth most popular pet dog in the United States today. These small, smart and social dogs are the life of the party and it is no wonder everyone loves them!
But French Bulldogs can have some special care needs because of their short, squashed faces. One of these care needs relates to their eyes, which are more likely to produce extra eye fluid that can lead to tearing stains.
Learning how to clean your Frenchie’s eyes and remove tear stains will help keep your dog healthy, safe, and comfortable in your life together. Read on to learn tips to care for your French Bulldog’s beautiful eyes.
How to Clean French Bulldog Eyes
The best way to clean French Bulldog eyes is to use only products that your canine veterinarian recommends. You will want your veterinarian to demonstrate exactly how to clean your dog’s eyes.
Using the wrong products in the wrong way will cause more eye irritation and may make the tear stains worse.
Learn About Cleaning French Bulldog Tear Stains
This YouTube video made by an experienced French Bulldog owner gives you valuable tips and tricks to help keep your Frenchie’s eyes dry and the surrounding skin free from tear stains.
Clearly, it will take some vigilance on your part to make sure your French Bulldog’s eyes stay dry and clear, but the payoff is a happier, healthier pup (and lower veterinary bills for you!).
Why Do French Bulldog Eyes Produce Tear Stains
The French Bulldog Rescue Network explains that French Bulldogs have unique eye health issues that are not an issue with many other dog breeds.
As The Veterinary Nurse points out, in the most extreme cases, this can lead to a condition called brachycephalic ocular syndrome, which we will discuss more in later sections here.
Even at its mildest, a Frenchie’s eyes can require special attention because of how the eyes are set in the head.
French Bulldogs Have a Brachycephalic Muzzle Shape
Psychology Today has some excellent visual examples of the three different muzzles shapes present in modern domestic dogs.
The long muzzle shape is called cephalic. Greyhounds and Afghan Hounds are great examples of this muzzle shape.
The middle muzzle shape is called mesocephalic. Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are a great example of this muzzle shape.
The shortest muzzle shape is called brachycephalic. The French Bulldog is a perfect example of this muzzle shape.
When a dog breed has a short muzzle shape, there is fundamentally less room in the head for everything that needs to fit there – the eyes, nose, mouth, the nasal passages, all the teeth, the tongue – everything is crammed in together.
Not surprisingly, this can lead to some difficulty with crowding as well as some structural issues. In French Bulldogs, one common trait is bulging eyes.
Eyes that bulge in the head are more likely to come into contact with irritants, abrasions, or protrusions when your dog is playing and exploring its world.
This in turn can lead to a number of health issues that affect your dog’s eyes, as we will discuss in the next section here.
It is important to know about the various eye health issues to watch out for so you know how to care for your Frenchie’s eyes. You need to know what is causing the eye problems to apply the right type of eye treatment and care.
Health Issues for French Bulldog Eyes
The brachycephalic muzzle shape is what gives the lovable French Bulldog their characteristic quizzical and curious expression. When they gaze up at you with those round beautiful eyes, how can you not love them?
Unfortunately, as the French Bulldog Club of England explains, this muzzle shape can also cause a number of canine eye health issues.
Overcrowding of the eye structure
One of the more serious issues that can result from overcrowding in the skull is the crowding of the eye structure. The tear ducts can be affected, as can the drainage system that is supposed to send the tearing to the nasal passages for drainage.
Instead, the tears will drain out the front of the eye and down the dog’s cheeks. This is what can cause the appearance of tear stains. In dark-coated Frenchies, often it is hard (or even impossible) to detect the staining.
In light-coated French Bulldogs, the tear stains usually show up as brown or reddish/rusty colored stains underneath the eyes.
Paradoxically, when the tear ducts are blocked or malformed due to the overcrowding in the skull, French Bulldogs can suffer from dry eyes.
Dry eye can also occur when the tears that are produced are not normal tears but are thicker or even sticky. These types of tears can clog the ducts and prevent drainage into the nasal passages.
Dry eye is one of the leading causes of a number of more serious French Bulldog health issues, including ocular lesions, cherry eye (nictitating membrane prolapse), and pigmentary keratitis (discoloration of the eye surface).
Eye structural issues
As MSCPA Angell explains, there are also a number of ocular structural issues that can create chronic irritation, dry eye, and other eye health issues.
These include eyelid malformation (entropion or ectropion), trichiasis (irritation from the fur on the nose), distichiasis (eyelash irritation), and more.
Brachycephalic ocular syndrome
Today’s Veterinary Practice highlights what is the most potentially serious eye condition, brachycephalic ocular syndrome.
When a French Bulldog has this condition, often they cannot even close their eyelids completely.
Some of these health issues may require lifelong management or corrective surgery. Without more extreme measures, a French Bulldog could potentially lose the use of its eyes.
How to Clean Your French Bulldog’s Eyes
The reason we started with a discussion of the French Bulldog’s short muzzle and how it affects the eyes is that you must know what is causing your dog’s eye problems before you can start treating it.
Since Frenchies have a lot of different eye health issues, this means the first step should always be taking your dog to the veterinarian for an examination.
Your veterinarian may recommend a different approach from the general tips you are about to read here.
These are the basic steps to take to clean your French Bulldog’s healthy eyes at home.
1. Get the right cleaning and care supplies
You want to use eye wipes and cleaning products that are specifically made for use with dogs. Do NOT use human products, including artificial tears meant for people!
2. Clean your dog’s face on a daily basis
The more frequently you clean away excess tear buildup from around your Frenchie’s eyes, the easier it will be to prevent tear stains from forming in the first place.
3. Make sure to soften any dried tear material first
If your French Bulldog has dried secretions in or around the eyes, always use a soft, warm cloth to soften these first before you try to wipe them away. This will protect against abrasion or eye damage.
4. Use a dog-appropriate lubricant or doggy artificial tears
If your French Bulldog suffers from dry eye or gooey tears, you may need to use a veterinarian-recommended lubricant or artificial tears made for dogs to keep the eyes lubricated.
5. Keep the hair around the eyes trimmed
Sometimes fur from the nose can irritate the eyes and stimulate excess tear production. You can use clippers to trim this fur to keep it out of your dog’s eyes.
6. Dry your dog’s eyes thoroughly after cleaning them
Use a soft, dry cloth to clean away any extra solution or lubricant after you clean your French Bulldog’s eyes.
7. Ask your veterinarian about a supplement or diet/water change
Sometimes your dog’s diet or hard minerals in the water may cause tear stains. You can ask your veterinarian about using a supplement with extra minerals and nutrients to promote optimal eye health.
8. Don’t forget to reward your pup with tasty treats
You know that you are cleaning your dog’s eyes to keep them healthy. But you can’t explain that to your French Bulldog. To make eye cleaning time fun and rewarding, don’t forget to give your pup plenty of pats, praise, and tasty treats!
You may also want to switch to bottled water if your local tap water has a lot of hard minerals.
Your French Bulldog Needs Daily Eye Care
As you now know, caring for your French Bulldog’s eye health needs to be part of your daily care schedule.
It is smart to get your Frenchie used to have their eyes examined and cleaned right from puppyhood so they are comfortable with the process.
This way, if any problems start to crop up, you will notice them right away and can intervene.