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COMMON AILMENTS THAT AFFECT THE BULLDOG

We try to add to this page as much as we can so check back often.

Note: this page must not be used as an alternative to seeing a qualified veterinary surgeon. The information posted here is mostly from personal experience but I am not a vet and therefore can only offer the information below as a guide.

Most of the photos and text featured are copyrighted to Bulldog Rescue and/or Tania Holmes, this page may be printed for personal use but must not be reproduced without our express written permission.

EYES

Cherry EyeCherry Eye: Where the gland under the third eyelid protrudes and looks rather like a cherry in the corner of the eye. Your vet will need to remove the gland (some prefer to tuck but it's not recommended). Occasionally removal of the gland causes dry eye but dry eye is a very common bulldog problem anyway regardless of if the dog had cherry eye surgery as a pup. More recently we have heard of vets that refuse to snip, try and find one that will if possible. The risk of dry eye is increased but we see so much dry eye in dogs that haven't had this surgery that it's not usually a factor - bulldog tear glands often block even if they still have this gland.

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Dry eyeDry Eye: Caused when natural tear production slows or stops. Symptoms include green gungy eyes, especially in the morning and a dry appearance or blue haze to the eye itself. Can be confirmed by your vet who will perform a dry eye test with blotting type paper to see how much moisture can be soaked from the eyes surface. Artificial tears will need to be applied to the eye for life, your vet can prescribe this or a much much cheaper alternative is "Visco Tears" for humans and is available from your pharmasist or an eye jell available here

 

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Conjunctivitis: You will need to obtain an anti biotic cream from your vet to apply to the affected eye, repeated bouts of conjunctivitis can cause the dog to retract the eyeball which in severe cases can lead to entropian. Minor eye infections can be treated with "Brolene" eye ointment from the chemist.

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Following surgery to remove an eyeEntropian: Where the eyelashes have turned inwards and are rubbing against the eye, again surgery may be required. Don’t confuse this with stray eyelashes that are just growing astray, these can be plucked with tweezers (you may prefer your vet to do this). Entropian needs surgery - if left the in-turned lashes will scratch the cornea and the result will be a severely damaged, ulcerated eye, at worst blindness or loss of eye.

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Ulceration of the Cornea: Damage to the eye surface will show itself as an Ulcer, best described as a blue "hazey" area. The damage is done by irritation to the surface of the eye so always get your vet to check any unusual marks on the cornea. Untreated ulcers will result in permanent loss of vision in the ulcerated area which may lead to the loss of the eye.

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EARS

Dirty EarsDirty / Infected ears are a very common problem, regular ear cleaning is essential. Long term dirty ears will become infected and sometimes the infection will be so deep in the inner ear it can go undected until the dog is in pain.

 

 

 

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Closed, infected earClosed ears: Long term ear infections will eventually close the ear canal as the ear tissues swells with infection. Ear drops will be required from the vet. Cleaning extremely infected ears can be a long process as you literally clean the infection away a layer at a time.

 

 

 

Ear Mites: Common in puppies, especially those in families with cats. Treatment will be required

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NOSE

Inverted sneezing: Rapid forced breathing through the nose. Usually because the dog has something in his nose but sounds a lot worse than it is, keep the dog calm and it will pass.

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Pinched Nostril: In extreme cases surgery will be required to open the nostrils.

Dry Nose: Bulldog noses almost always go dry and flakey. Dab some petroleum jelly on the nose 2 or 3 times a day to restore a crusty nose and a couple of times a week to prevent it. The dog will try and lick the petroleum jelly off but enough will soak in to soften the nose again. In severe cases petroleum jellythe nose upto 6 times a day - you'll be surprised at how quickly the nose recovers.

 

 

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THROAT

Elongated Soft Palate and other airway disorders: Every bulldog has an elongated soft palate to a certain degree, this is because of the shape of their heads (ie: brachycephalic - short nosed). In most cases this causes nothing more than snoring, but in severe cases may cause your bulldog difficulty in breathing. Heat and exercise will cause loud, gurgly breathing, (commonly known as "roaring") and your bulldog may appear to be "lazy". The severity can range from loud breathing when excited, during/after exercise to total exercise intolerance, regurgitation of food to permanent breathing difficulties. The condition can be corrected with surgery and you need to be sure that the vet you chose to carry out this surgery totally understand brachycephalic breeds.

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Sleep Apnea Common in humans that snore and also common in bulldogs. They appear to stop breathing whilst asleep and if you hear it happen it can be quite scary waiting for them to breath out again - they will ...... eventually

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MAKE SURE YOU RECOGNISE THE SIGNS - CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW TO PREVENT, RECOGNISE AND DEAL WITH HEAT EXHAUSTION IN BULLDOGS. HIT YOUR BACK BUTTON TO GET BACK HERE

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MOUTH

Lump at back of mouthMouth Tumours: Lumps that appear in the mouth should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

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HEAD

Head Shakes: Rather like a fit, but effecting just the head, which will involuntary shake from side to side (or up and down), sometimes violently enough to cause their lips to flap about. The dog is conscious and aware of what is happening. We have always found them to be linked to stress which may cause the blood sugar level to drop enough to trigger the head shake. Giving some glucose or runny honey to bring the blood sugar level back up should help although distraction often stops the shaking. If you are unable to link the attack to a specific stressful incident or a recent period of over excitement then your bulldog may be in pain and it is advisable that you get your vet to check him over. Note, many vets are unfamiliar with this breed specific condition and sometimes mis diagnose epilepsy. 

 

 

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Tear StainingTear Stains: If your dog has a white face you may find that over time the tears from his eyes cause his face to stain red. This may be attributed to the red colouring in the food he’s eating but this is not always the case, some bulldogs produce red tears and some don’t, those with white faces will have these stains more than dark coloured faces. A daily wipe with "Diamond Eye" eye wash will help.

 

 

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Face wrinkles need to be kept cleanThe nose wrinkle can be very deepSore Wrinkles: Looking after a bulldog involves daily care of the face and the deep folds. Wash their faces on a daily basis with either a soft cloth and water or unscented baby wipes. Be sure to dry the face properly and then apply MSM cream to the folds, extra care is needed to the nose roll which in some bulldogs can be very deep.

 

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BODY

Itchy skin: Probably an allergy, possibly the food you are feeding - If this cannot be controlled by diet then you may need to see your vet, we feed James Wellbeloved Adult complete food which is renown for the benefits it gives the skin. It is always worth trialling a change in diet before heading down the allergy testing route. Switch to James Wellbeloved and feed nothing else (no supplements or tid bits) for at least 2 weeks. MSM cream will help alleviate the itching help the area heal, only allow steroid treatment in extreme circumstances and for as short a time as you can get away with.

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Baldness: Many bulldogs go bald and the most common site for this is on the sides of the body. Often the baldness is symmetrical on both sides and the skin underneath blackens. The most likely cause is hormonal or seasonal alopecia, however it's worth asking the vet to test Thyroid function and for Cushings syndrome, especially in dogs that have recently put on a lot of weight as both of these condition will initially present as bald sides. Spayed bitches will sometimes go bald when they would have come into season and some dogs will only go bald during certain times of the year. In the absence of any other symptoms (ie: lack of appetite, lethargy or sudden weight gain) the problem is cosmetic.

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Mange: The most common form of Mange is Demodex (demodectic mange or red mange). The mite is present in all dogs and is passed from mother to pup during suckling. Infection occurs when the body's immune system is unable to maintain a harmonious state with the demodex parasite. This lull in the immune system can be genetic but can also be due to depression in the dog, following illness or sometimes during a growth spurt or after a booster jab.  Common in younger dogs it is more often "localised" (small patches around face, chest or front legs)  but is not contagious between dogs.

Diagnosis is made by "scraping the skin area" with a sharp blade, in order to "lift" the parasite off of the skin.  The scraped material is then examined under the microscope to visualize the parasite. The condition is not usually itchy but in severe cases, the entire body be affected, in this form it has become "generalised", and along with hair loss, a secondary bacterial infection can occur.  These patients can itch and scratch because of the bacterial infection.  Treatment generally involves dipping the patient in a solution effective against demodex (Aludex being the recommended produt).

 

 

 

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Development Problems: Because of the bulldog’s rapid growth it is very important that you keep weight, play and exercise properly managed during  the first year, early joint damage could be permanent and may lead to osteoarthritis. Irregular growth in the long bones is very common and is almost always only temporary as the dog usually grows out of it by the time the bones fuse at about 9 months to 1 year of age. Hip/elbow displaysia is genetic but can be encouraged by environmental factors (ie: slidey floors, jumping, overweight etc). Any puppy that shows lamness should be rested as it is not unusual during a rapid growth spurt, try not panic if your puppy becomes lame and don't ever allow surgery to be undertaken on growing bones - no firm diagnoses can be made until he is at least a year old anyway.

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Xray showing shallow hip joints and arthritic changesOCD and Hip Displacia is incredibly rare in bulldogs and is very often mis-diagnosed in the breed. Due to the naturally very shallow joints the bulldog is sadly very prone to arthritic changes which can occur at a very young age, especially if as a puppy the dog underwent very rapid growth or was over weight or over exercise during this period. Sadly we hear of lots of puppies supposedly diagnosed with OCD or Hip displacia and in most cases this is not the case at all. The breed has naturally shallow elbow and hip joints and young bulldog hips are very loose as the adult dog relies heavily on muscle to hold the joint in place. In many cases the growth rate is so fast the long bones grow at different rates in the fore legs, and elbows in particular will show up as displacic on xrays taken under 18 months old, in most cases the bones will level out as the growth phase comes to an end. Displacia diagnoses should not be taken as red until the dog is at least 18 months old and surgical intervention should never be considered until the growth phase is over, even then it's more likely that the dog simply needs drug management to deal with the arthritic changes in the joint which in most cases are the result of the rapid growth as a puppy.

 

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Diet plays a large role in bone development, because of the rapid growth it is wise to take puppy off of puppy food at 5 months to lower the protein intake. Many dog food manufactures recommend that puppy stays on the puppy mix for the first year, but the bulldogs bones don't need such a high protein intake as it speeds up an already rapid growth and can lead to development deformities in some cases. The same applies to calcium, don't give puppy any extra calcium - find a good well balanced dog food and stick to it.

You can help your dog through his puppy limping or Arthritis with a natural product - Extract of Green Lipped Mussel.  Give 1 or 2 capsules per day depending on the severity of the limping, you can either hide the capsule in a treat or sprinkle over their food (it smells fishy, so they love it). Green Lipped Mussel is a natural anti-inflammatory and will help rebuild any defects in the bone. We give this product to our adult arthritic dogs and have never had the need to use a prescribed arthritis drug yet. We have also given it to young pups going through their "stiff" stages and always give it to any dog that is recovering from joint surgery (ie: Ruptured Cruciate Ligament). Remember though, that any form of limping should be checked out by your vet, there are many many things that can cause limping (see above) although in most cases Green Lipped Mussel will help.

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Following Surgery to Repair a Ruptured Cruciate LigamentCRUCIATE LIGAMENT DAMAGE

The bulldog can damage his cruciate ligament almost without even trying. The back legs are usually longer than the front and this puts pressure on the stifle joint (knee). A bad landing or a sudden turn can snap one of the cruciate ligaments. The vet will be able to confirm a damaged cruciate ligament by manipulating the knee joint, side to side movement is usually the sign. A dog with a damaged cruciate will hold his back leg with either just the toes touching the floor or with the leg fully off the ground bent at the knee. If the ligament is only stretched strict crate rest will almost always work, but you have to be very strict and keep the dog crated only allowing them out to the toilet on a lead. If there is no improvement after one week then surgery may be required.

 

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FEET

Interdigital Cysts on a front footInterdigital Cysts: Red lumps that appear between the toes on the front feet, causes include inverted hair follicles, grass seeds or cutting very long toe nails and altering the pressure put on the toes. There is very little that can be done to prevent interdigital cysts but you can help alleviate them by soaking the dogs feet in a solution of Epsom Salts and cooled kettle water, dry thoroughly and apply MSM Cream between each toe. A short course of anti biotics may help in the short term. If your dog will allow it squeeze out anything that is ready to burst prior to soaking the feet in the salt solution

 

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Long back nails

NAILS

It is very important that nails are kept short either through regular road walking or clipping. Nails that are left to grow too long are uncomfortable for the dog and it may be painful for him to walk. Be aware that cutting long front nails may encourage interdigital cysts as the pressure on the feet is altered.

 

 

long front nailsDew claws that are left to grow may grow back into the leg of the dog or may catch in things and be ripped out.

Be careful not to cut through the quick of the nail (the pink part), this area is especially hard to see if the nails are black. Cutting through the quick will bleed heavily but looks worse than it is and will stop although will be painful for the dog and will be sore for a while aftewards.

 

 

 

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TAIL

Following Surgery to Amputate a tailTail Problems: A true bulldog tail is a dream to look after, ideally he should have a nice straight spiked tail, moderate in length, that can be easily lifted away from the body - however, screw tails in bulldogs are not uncommon (many people assume the bulldog should have a screw tail which is not correct) and this and/or an inverted tail (where the tail is growing back into the body) can cause your bulldog a few problems. You should endeavour to keep tight tails clean and DRY, but if this proves to be a problem you should consult your vet. Bulldog tails ARE NOT docked and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, pay particular attention to tightly screwed or close fitting tails as these will need regular attention in order to prevent infection, some tails sit inside themselves (what I call a thumb in a belly button) and can look like there is no tail at all until you look closer.

 

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GENERAL

Gas: Goes with the breed I’m afraid, they will lay right at your feet and fart for England and be totally oblivious to what’s going on. We’ve found the Nutro food has almost totally eliminated the gas problem, but each dog is different. Charcoal Bonio biscuits are great for a windy dog as the charcoal will help soak up the internal gasses.

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Temperature: Your dogs temperature should be between 100 and 101 (approx 38.6)

UTI's and Cystitis: Bulldogs are prone to UTI's (Urinary Tract Infections) and bitches are prone to Cystitis - especially when in season. A drop of Cider Apple Vinegar in the drinking water will help. If the condition continues you must consult your vet as a course of Synolux will be required or in the worse cases xrays to rule out bladder stones or crystals

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Vets

Please try to find a vet that understands the bulldog, this breed is a higher risk to anaesthetise that snouted breeds so be sure that the vet you have chosen is aware of this fact at least, try to only have your bulldog put under when absolutely necessary. Bulldogs also have very shallow joint sockets and a vet that is unfamiliar with the breed may not only mis-diagnose joint problems but may also see you as a licence to print money. Almost every Bulldog will have a slightly elongated soft palate which is why they snore, so be aware - if your vet informs you that he needs to resection the soft palate this may not be the case at all. Bulldogs with severe soft palate problems will overheat easily, find it very difficult to cope with any form of exercise and may regurgitate their food. If there are other bulldog owners in your area ask them who they go to and at least ask your vet what his bulldog experience is.

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