With their wrinkled faces and smushed noses, bulldogs are an iconic breed known for their easygoing companionship. But these courageous and kind pups — including English and French bulldogs — are unfortunately prone to allergies and susceptible to different skin conditions.
Why bulldogs are prone to allergies
Bulldogs can experience these types of allergies: environmental, food, skin, or genetic.
Environment. Bulldogs are short and have a short coat. Their short stature means that they rub against grass and other environmental irritants that lead to environmental allergies. Bulldogs can experience seasonal allergies to things like pollen. Parasitic infections like microscopic mites, also known as Demodex, can live on dog skin and lead to skin inflammations.
Genetics. The English bulldog is predisposed to developing skin allergies. Some of their allergens are linked to genetics or are inherited.
Food. Some dogs, like pitbulls and bulldogs, can suffer from food allergies. When dogs have food allergies, it’s typically in response to a protein source like beef, chicken, or pork.
Skin. Bulldogs are susceptible to skin allergies in part because of the skin folds they have. Their overlapping skin folds can become filled with bacteria, which in turn leads to skin conditions like bacterial infections, dermatitis, folliculitis, and muzzle acne. Their iconic wrinkles can become irritated and itchy. Common allergy locations in bulldogs include their ears, eyes, paws, and facial skin folds.
Common food allergens for bulldogs
- Beef, chicken, pork, fish
- Dairy, eggs
- Wheat (in very rare cases)
Common contact allergens for bulldogs
- Dog shampoo
- Flea collars, flea bites
- Trees, weeds, grass, some plants
- Wood in bedding
- Dust mites
Common symptoms of allergies in bulldogs
👉 If your dog has a severe allergic reaction, you need to seek professional veterinary care immediately.
Diagnosing allergies in bulldogs
Knowing that your Frenchie is experiencing an allergy isn’t enough: you need to discover the root cause of what’s bothering your beloved bulldog. Food intolerances and allergies are hard to diagnose, so you’ll need to talk to your vet to diagnose what’s causing the problem.
The easiest way to determine if your English bulldog is allergic to a specific food is through an elimination diet. This includes putting dogs on a novel protein or hydrolyzed protein diet for six to eight weeks to remove potential food allergens and slowly reintroducing ingredients back one at a time to see if a reaction occurs.
Vets may do an elimination diet to rule out the specific food causing your dog’s ailment. They can narrow down which animal protein, dairy, carbohydrate, vegetable protein, or artificial ingredient is causing the problem.
Your veterinarian may also run a diagnostic test to discover the exact environmental allergen.
Veterinarians may prescribe probiotics or antibiotics to soothe your bulldog’s allergy symptoms. They can also check your dog’s skin for any fleas or pests that could be causing an allergic reaction.
👉 Your veterinarian is the only one who can diagnose your bulldog’s allergies. They can also help you treat your bulldog’s allergies.
How bulldog owners can treat bulldog allergies
The best way to treat bulldog allergies is to avoid the cause of the allergy if possible. Treatment depends on what’s causing your bulldog’s allergy. However, some key lifestyle changes can help.
Add omega-3 to their diet. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your bulldog’s diet can help reduce inflammation and promote a healthy immune system. But dogs can’t produce these crucial fatty acids on their own, which is why you’ll need to add it to their diet with fish oil or other supplements. Fish oil is included in commercial diet food, but you should not use fish oil during food elimination trials.
Try these: Pet Honesty omega salmon snacks are tasty supplements that have a 4.8-star rating with 645 positive customer reviews on Amazon. According to reviews, pet parents (including bulldog owners) love that pups with food allergies or dry skin stopped itching and have soft fur again.
Try a probiotic supplement. Probiotic supplements help skin issues like atopic dermatitis, itchiness and hair loss in bulldogs. Consider this best-selling probiotic Zesty Paws Probiotic for Dogs that has a 4.5-star rating from nearly 11,500 reviews on Amazon. Bulldog owners report that this probiotic has helped their bulldog’s ear infections, flatulence, and skin conditions like hair loss and itchiness.
Give them plenty of exercise. English bulldogs and Frenchies alike need regular exercise and walks to keep from becoming overweight. One important caveat: bulldogs can’t swim since they can weigh up to a dense 50 pounds, so don’t put them in the water without a doggie life jacket.
Examine your environment. If your French or English bulldog is showing an allergic reaction, it could be because of an environmental allergen. Bulldog owners should examine their indoor and outdoor spaces for any potential causes. You could wipe down your French bulldog with a hypoallergenic wipe after a walk, or check that the products you’re using on your English bulldog are dog-friendly. Check your shampoo, dog fragrances, and any other products you use on your dog’s skin, including clothing.
Inspect your bulldogs for mosquito bites, fleas, and ticks. Pests can cause allergic reactions. If you find fleas, they need to be killed with veterinary-grade products or veterinary prescriptions. If you find ticks, remove them immediately. Keep bulldogs updated on flea and tick medication.
Monitor their time outside. As bulldogs can have problems with breathing in the humid summertime heat, it’s also important to make time for indoor games like tug of war and fetch inside. Bulldogs have short hair, which makes their skin easier to burn. Burns will irritate skin and can worsen allergies.
Use a hypoallergenic shampoo. Bulldog puppies dealing with itchy skin need all the relief they can get. A soothing bathtime routine using a hypoallergenic shampoo is a good start. Try our favorite hypoallergenic shampoo, the 4-Legger USDA Certified Organic Dog Shampoo. With 4.5-star ratings from 710 customers on Amazon, reviewers rave about how the sustainably sourced organic ingredients soothe their dog’s skin.
Add a soothing balm to your bulldog’s routine. If your Frenchie has dry skin, try using a dog paw balm to help calm and soothe their irritated skin. Balms like Paw Soother by Natural Dog Company are great for soothing itchy hot spots and flaky skin. Our top choice also happens to be loaded with antifungal and antibacterial properties. With a 4.5-star rating from nearly 4,000 reviewers, pet parents rave about how the balm moisturizes affected areas and is apt for any and all dog breeds.
How to take care of a bulldog’s coat
English bulldogs have short coats and loose skin on their face and throats. Their faces need to be wiped daily with dog-friendly wipes to avoid bacteria from being trapped, just be careful to avoid contact around the eyes. They should also be brushed weekly to remove any dust or environmental irritants like grass from their coat.
Proper nutrition for bulldogs to help bulldog allergies
In addition to any lifestyle changes or prescribed medication, a healthy diet will keep your beloved bulldog around for years to come.
Always talk to your vet before making changes to a dog’s diet on your own. Dietary changes will need to be introduced gradually so your bulldog doesn’t experience gastrointestinal distress. Sudden changes can cause diarrhea, flatulence, and vomiting.
You will need to examine the ingredient list on your dog food. Always check the food label to see if your dog’s food includes any protein, carbohydrate, or fat source that could be to blame. Food labels are legally required to list ingredients in order of highest to lowest quantity per the weight of each ingredient. All dog foods are required to have four nutritional guarantees including a minimum percentage of crude protein and fat and a maximum of crude fiber and moisture, per the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Your veterinarian may prescribe single-ingredient diets that include only one source of animal protein, or just one carbohydrate or fat. Limited ingredient dog food recipes vary, but they include a few high-quality ingredients.
Consider one of our favorites: the Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet. It’s packed with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, and probiotics. This made-in-the-USA dog food has a 4.6-star average rating from 153 reviewers on Chewy, with pet parents reporting that it helped pups with sensitive stomachs, itchiness, and diarrhea.
Your vet may recommend hypoallergenic dog food. This option is created with ingredients that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Hypoallergenic dog foods typically cost more, include less novel protein sources like venison, and usually require a veterinary prescription.
If your dog is put on a single-ingredient or hypoallergenic diet, you will not be able to feed your bulldog treats, table food (which you shouldn’t anyway), or anything outside of the dog food spectrum.
👉 Don’t change your bulldog’s diet without consulting your veterinarian. The best dog food for bulldogs depends on their specific allergies.