5 Health Maintenance Tips for the New English Bulldog Owner

Our friend Jules from Canines and Couture wrote a blog for us! It’s such a huge honor to have Jules and Ru (her beloved English bulldog) to write for our website!

5 Health Maintenance Tips for the New English Bulldog Owner

It seems as though every time I take Rufus for a walk I get approached by somebody who really needs to tell me they want to own an English Bulldog and 9 times out of 10, those same people ask me, “Is it true what they say about the breed having a lot of health issues?” It’s in those moments I wish I had this blog post to hand out. I think a lot of Bulldog owners would agree that this statement is mostly true, unfortunately. Still, I try to have a more positive perspective when discussing English Bulldog health issues with prospective owners because having one in your life can be an amazing and exceptionally rewarding experience.

I always answer with a simple, “They require a lot of health maintenance.” What I’ve realized over my four years of having the pleasure of owning my Smoosh, it’s that a lot of a Bulldog’s inherent health issues can be proactively managed. Given that I had never owned an English Bulldog before Ru, this was something that I had to learn the hard way; by taking him to the vet over and over again for the same issues until my savings was virtually depleted. I’d like to believe that today, had I known how to be proactive with my Bulldog’s health issues, those visits could have been a lot less frequent.

I’m writing this post because I wish somebody had told me when I was a new Bulldog owner about the little things that I could have done to proactively manage Rufus’ health. The little things that can make a big difference. This is not going to be an exhaustive list of Bulldog health issues and I’m in no way claiming to know it all when it comes to Bulldog health; every dog is different and their health often largely depends on the quality of breeder he or she came from . These are just helpful tips for the new English Bulldog owner from the perspective of my life with Ru, nothing more, nothing less:

1) The corkscrew (“innie) tail; a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Did you know that a Bulldog’s “innie” tail literally goes…in? I know, right? It’s a crazy concept. I didn’t know that when I bought Ru. I had no idea that I could literally stick half a finger inside the folds of his tail until he started dragging his butt around on the ground day after day in discomfort. And apparently neither did half the vets we took him to because they thought he was doing it for a host of other reasons: anal glands, itchy butt, worms, parasite, etc. It took several vet visits and vet switches until someone finally got the diagnoses right. He had a yeast/bacterial infection in his tail folds. If your English Bulldog is blessed with an adorable little “innie” tail, you’ll need to start cleaning it from the inside out. You’ll want to have a conversation with your vet early on about when to start this health maintenance routine and stock up on some anti-fungal/bacterial wipes (Keto-C antiseptic wipes). They’re very common and relatively inexpensive. You’ll prevent yeast and other bacterial infections that are only cured by more vet visits and antibiotics.

2) The “Hot Spots” – or Acute Moist Dermatitis if you wannna get all clinical – pop up as swollen, red, sometimes pus-filled circular patches of skin where the hair rapidly falls out. Rufus has had the pleasure of getting Hot Spots off and on his entire life and every time we take him into the vet, they give him round after round of antibiotics. I hate giving my dog antibiotics. It messes up his system and causes other gastro issues. This was another recurring health issue that was misdiagnosed when Rufus was a puppy over and over again, mistaken for mites/mange, scabs, ring worm, and yeast. Recently I was at the park with Ru and started serendipitously chatting with a vet tech. I mentioned Ru’s relentless issues with Hot Spots and she asked me if I had tried “changing proteins.” I had no idea what that meant but tried desperately to look like I did. Thankfully she went on to explain that if your dog is perpetually getting Hot Spots, 9 times out of 10 switching the protein you feed your dog can help. For example, Ru was on a chicken protein-based dog chow. So, she suggested switching his protein to salmon, lamb or turkey. It can get a little tricky because you have to remember to change everything over. I also had to say sayonara to all his chicken-based treats and wet food. If your puppy develops Hot Spots, you still need to take him or her to the vet but if they persist, try switching the protein that you feed them. I wish I had known this tip much, much earlier.

3) The infection-prone ears. Much like #1, visits to the vet for your Bulldog’s incessant ear infections can be curbed significantly if you proactively clean your Smooshie’s ears out on a regular basis; at least twice a week. When you go to the vet for your yeast wipes, ask for ear wash as well (ear cleansing solution). Ask your vet for a proper demonstration of how to administer the ear wash. I stay on top of Ru’s ear cleanings now but had I know how crucial it was earlier on, I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars on vet bills for ear infections that could have been prevented with proactive maintenance.

4) The wrinkly, yeasty smoosh. That smoosh…that adorable smoosh that makes us all swoon; it’s so cute we can hardly bear it! Don’t shoot the messenger but if you have the rather naive perception that you and your dog’s smoosh are going to walk happily off into the sunset together, think again. That smoosh is going to require lots of maintenance. Much like in #1 on this list, you need to clean out your dog’s facial folds on a frequent basis with anti-bacterial/fungal wipes. I was given every other remedy when Ru was a puppy except the one that worked. They would tell me to keep the wrinkles dry with baby powder or they would offer me medicated powder. It would often get so bad that he’d have to be on another round of some pill or another. Clean out your dog’s wrinkles frequently with these wipes and your vet visits for facial fold yeast infections will be virtually annihilated. Consult your vet for an appropriate smoosh cleaning schedule and stick to it.

5) The inflamed, allergy-prone paws. Rufus’ paws are perpetually red, swollen and gooey from allergies. The itchiness and redness that he experiences from skin allergies isn’t so much the problem, as is his reaction to it. Rufus licks and bites and gnaws and chews and does anything else you can possibly imagine a dog doing to his paws when they itch. All that moisture causes – yep, you guessed it – more yeast and bacteria! While I’m cleaning out Rufus’ tail and facial folds, I also use those same anti-fungal/bacterial wipes in between every single one of his toes. On top of that, drawing regular, shallow baths with Epsom salts can help; a nice soak does him wonders.

I’m not a veterinary professional. I’m not an expert and your English Bulldog will still need to go to the vet, probably more than you’d like. These are just some friendly pointers; a handful of tips that I’d give to any new English Bulldog owner trying to avoid the vet for these persistent problems. My biggest piece of advice, though, is to find a vet that has experience working with English Bulldogs. You’d be surprised at how many vets don’t know enough about the breed and what they require. Have a solid conversation about health maintenance with him or her and develop a schedule for your English Bulldog’s continued care.

What do you do to proactively manage your dog’s health? 

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Jules and Ru of Canines & Couture

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