Diarrhea in newborn French Bulldogs is always a concern. Being 75 percent water, these Frenchie babies are prone to dehydration. It is not recommended to use electrolytes under the skin, plus their skin is so thin that it is difficult to do so.
There are two different ages of concern. The first is less than two weeks and the other is over two weeks old.

blue and white french bulldog sitting looking up

Under Two Weeks Old

First assess dehydration – use a cotton ball to stimulate urination. At this age, they have little kidney function and should have little to no color of urine. If they have any color at all, newborn is getting dehydrated and needs help.

Over Two Weeks Old

French Bulldog babies activity levels often tell us how dehydrated they are, but the cotton ball technique also works. Those aggressively seeking the nipple and nursing are OK with minimal treatment. If not, intervene.

Treatment

Electrolytes in water is often referred to as “Baby Gatorade” by breeders. (Pedialyte)

  • Warm in bottle and let babies nurse it down. By bottle feeding them for one feeding, the electrolytes will help to counter the dehydration.
  • Pedialyte can be used in an emergency but dilute 50/50 with water as it is too sweet for a Frenchie puppy and they don’t nurse the Pedialyte as well.

Warm electrolytes can be given as an enema and is a good hydration technique. If using injectable type fluids, three to five cc/lb warmed is a good start. Hold tail down until relaxed so they don’t expel.

blue frenchie crouching in texas

Kaolin Pectin or Pet Pectillin are both good diarrhea options, and they do not have the bite that the human product Pepto-Bismol does. Dosing is one cc per pound, and it is best to divide it up and give it over a 30-minute time frame. Giving twice a day will coat the gut and help with cramping colic.

Putting a probiotic in the milk daily is required for the orphan or use twice daily until resolved if nursing on mom. French Bulldog puppies get probiotics from mom when she cleans them. For best results, use probiotics designed to bypass stomach acid and enzymes. It will adhere to bad bacteria rendering them inactive.

An antibiotic is important if they are feverish.

  • Under two weeks: Usually not infectious in nature and antibiotic is rarely needed. Use Amoxicillin or Clavamox at 10 mg/lb (once daily). You can use a milk substitute.
  • Over two weeks: Amoxicillin has worked well but Cephalexin 10 mg/lb (twice daily) is also relatively safe. With kidney and liver function minimal until six weeks, use caution going to sulfa until after weaning.
  • Nursing baby diarrhea from Coccidia is secondary and rarely considered a diarrhea cause here. Coccidia can be an issue if we did nothing to mom pre-birth (CocciGuard or Marquis) and must be considered in large breed dogs four weeks old.

Overeating

Overeating diarrhea is a common issue with C-Section moms. When the mom is late with her milk and then it does finally come in, Frenchie puppies are hungry so they overeat and end up with diarrhea. For overeating diarrhea, we give electrolytes to fill their tummies so they feel full and back off nursing. That usually solves it.

Long-Term Control

Reoccurring Frenchie litters with diarrhea should not be tolerated. If you are fighting diarrhea more than occasional. We like to rule out virus and manage to prevent mom from passing bad bacteria to babies when cleaning post-birth. This can involve giving a safe antibiotic to all moms to eliminate organism, as well as solid parasite control in late pregnancy. (Safeguard is labeled for pregnant and nursing.) Parasites immune suppression of mom cannot be tolerated because the babies will pay the price.
Long-term control is achieved by putting moms on probiotic. It is important that you use a probiotic designed to pass the stomach acid or your results will be disappointing. Use 30 days before birth and two weeks after birth. Both bypass the stomach and become active in the intestine where it is needed. The goal is to get the Frenchie mommy normal so mom gives only good bacteria to her puppies. With time, we will get rid of the cause from our mom’s system. It has worked well on issues such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and E-Coli diarrhea.
It is always helpful to get a diagnosis if diarrhea cannot be controlled. Sooner you contact your veterinarian the better!