If you are going to get a bulldog, regardless if you choose French or English you MUST find a vet who truly understands these breeds & cares about you & your bulldog, and avoid the ones who only care about getting you in and out or about the money! Unfortunately MANY vets see dollar signs the moment a bulldog walks in the door. They assume you must have money & be ready for expensive vet bills or you wouldn't have purchased such a dog. PLEASE take a moment to watch this news video as it will show you a realistic view of how different vets operate.
One of the vet clinics we take our bulldogs to has two different doctors & often one Dr will have a different diagnoses/opinion than the other Dr. I talked to one of the vets about this & he told me you can go to 10 vets and get 10 different diagnoses! This is why it is so very important to see a true bulldog vet. One that is slow to diagnose in absolute terms (there are exceptions of course, when it's totally obvious what's wrong), slow to jump to surgery, understands the breeds uniqueness and LISTENS TO YOU! Just like when you go to the doctor or take your
children to the doctor you NEED the doctor to truly LISTEN to your symptoms and consider every possibility before diagnosing! Bulldogs are built very very differently than other dog breeds. So understanding those differences is essential to dispensing good medical advice.
SOME OF THE MOST COMMON BULLDOG (FRENCH & ENGLISH BULLDOG) ISSUES: Cherry eye, entropion, loose hips (hip Dysplasia-HD), demodex on the skin, brachycephalic syndrome (elongated soft palate, narrowed nares, relatively small trachea).
MOST COMMON VET MISDIAGNOSES OF BULLDOGS: Hip dysplasia (HD), shoulder limping (growth changes), brachycephalic syndrome : elongated soft palate, small (hypoplastic tracheas).
CHERRY EYE (most common bulldog issue) - Cherry eye is when the gland under the third eyelid protrudes and looks rather like a cherry in the corner of the eye, hence the name "cherry eye". Cherry eye is extremely common with English bulldogs from every bloodline in the world and most French bulldogs. This is not an uncommon bulldog issue even from healthy, well-bred bloodlines and bred from parents who never had cherry eye. The Bulldog breeds structure, with those big flat faces is the main culprit. Cherry eye is normally brought on by stress, even playing tug of war or play session with other puppies, etc. We once had a dog who would only pop a cherry eye out of stress right before we walked into the show ring! Although normally if a pup is going to get cherry eye it happens around 6 - 12 wks old. Cherry eye, is an ugly pain & does increase the chance of eye infection but it is really not an urgent health issue. A bulldog could live his or her whole life with cherry eye & be fine.
The first thing you should do is try to massage the gland back in. Put a clean rubber glove on and use your thumb to massage the cherry eye gland in a circular motion & firmly push it back in. If the gland is already bright red that gland may already be damaged or ruptured.
Find a Bulldog vet! You need to find a vet with lots of experience with bulldog breeds! In recent year many vets feel that the best procedure for cherry eye is to tuck the damaged eye gland back in. Two problems with this method:
At this point the tear gland is often blocked or ruptured & useless anyway.
By forcing a damaged gland back into the eye with a foreign object like sutures you can actually create eye issues for your bulldog such as eye ulcers & dry eye. Note: In any event if you consider surgery always make sure your vet uses Propofol as this is a short-acting anesthesia.
BULLDOGS LOOSE JOINTS/ HIPS / ELBOWS (HD & OCD are likely the most commonly misdiagnosed Bulldog issues) - English Bulldogs naturally have very loose hip joints and very shallow joints. Loose joints (dysplastic) are part of the breed standard & that odd but adorable anatomy bulldogs are bred for. AKC breed standard has this to say about hips: "Gait: his gait being a loose-jointed, shuffling, sideways motion, giving the characteristic 'roll.' The action must, however, be unrestrained, free". To understand bulldog joints you must understand the bulldogs unique anatomy. What are considered awful hips for a lab or German Shepard may be considered very good hips for a bulldog. True hip dysplasia (for the breed) is very commonly misdiagnosed especially in rapidly growing and developing English & French bulldog puppies. Hip dysplasia is the most commonly mis-diagnoses bulldog issue in my experience. This is just one more reason it is important to see a vet who truly understands this unique breed and has years of experience with them. Many owners are convinced into doing very unnecessary surgeries. Care & diet are very important for this breed's hip joint development. *See down below* OFA ranks English bulldogs #1 for Hip dysplasia at a whopping 71%!
The actual number is even higher than this, as 90% of the time the only breeders who turn in xrays to OFA are the people who think their bulldog will pass. Most of the 71% actually have good hips "for bulldogs" but not compared to other dog breeds.
As for diagnoses: Until 18 months of age x-rays for bulldog hips are almost useless as bulldog puppies are is still growing and the joints are still moving and developing. In most cases the bones will level out as the growth phase comes to an end. Surgical intervention should never be considered until the growth phase is over after 18 months of age. Bulldogs have naturally shallow joints and as adults they often largely rely on the muscles surrounding their joints regardless! Many bulldog puppies will limp during the growth stages. It's similar to a teenager with growth pains in his legs during rapid growth during teen years.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO? You can help your bulldog through his puppy limping or arthritis stages by the following:
KEEP YOUR BULLDOG PUPPY OR ADULT BULLDOG LIGHT ON WEIGHT! It is much much healthier for an English Bulldog to be on the "too thin side" than the "too heavy side". A bulldog puppy with "good hips for a bulldog" can go to having "bad hips" simply due to being over weight. Please see our OVERWEIGHT BULLDOGS section.
KEEP YOUR BULLDOG OFF SLIPPERY SURFACES! Slippery surfaces can cause a bulldog injury (slipping & pulling/ spraining joints).
- COMPANION FOR LIFE DOG CHEWABLE: The #1 supplement I use for our French & English bulldogs! This supplement has worked wonders for French & English Bulldog joints, hips, immune systems, skin problems - fantastic product! Our order user ID number is 1006930. Please enter that number when you order as we have become distributors for this wonderful product! Legacy For Life (800) 557-8477.
- Ester C Vitamin: Ester-C Is great for joint development & immune system building (see http://www.workingdogs.com/doc0039.htm). We recommend that every French or English Bulldog puppy be on 500mg of Ester Vit C every day. For adult French Bulldogs we also recommend 1000mg of Ester Vit C daily. Most local pharmacies carry Ester-C.
For more supplements, please see our SUPPLEMENTS section.
DIET! Diet plays a large role in bone development, because of the rapid growth it is wise to take bulldog puppies off of puppy food at 3 months to lower the protein intake. Many dog food manufacturers recommend that the 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 your puppy any extra calcium - find a good well balanced organic dog food.
PATELLAR LUXATION (KNEE) - Patellar luxations (dislocation of the knee-cap) occur frequently in dogs. Luxating patella's are considered normal or common in the English & French bulldog breeds. Largely because of their naturally loose jointed build as with hip dysplasia (HD). Patellar luxations can he grouped into two main categories. First, is medially luxating patellas (MLP) which are existing from birth and commonly affect cats and smaller breeds of dogs. The second type is laterally luxating patellas which are often the result of trauma and can affect any pet. Lameness occurs as the patella luxates and often resolves when it spontaneously reduces. Lameness is often intermittent and animals will learn to reduce the patella themselves by extending the hip and the knee together behind them. Diagnosis is made on physical examination and may be confirmed with radiographs. Radiographs will demonstrate the patella luxation if the patella is dislocated -at the time the radiographs are taken. All animals with patellar luxation can develop some degree of arthritis. In very severe cases surgical correction can be done. However at times this condition heals itself as a puppy grows, so surgery is not recommend until after a French or English bulldog puppy is over 18 months of age. Most surgical corrections of patellar luxations in the bulldog breed consist of deepening the groove in which the patella rides, removal of redundant (excess) tissues and possibly, movement of the bone on which the patellar ligament inserts. Deepening the groove (trochleoplasty) can be accomplished in several ways depending on the age and size of the patient. By deepening the groove, the patella is less likely to move into an abnormal position. This is usually combined with other techniques to maximize stability of the knee. Most French & English bulldogs with this condition live happy normal, healthy lives.
CARE: As with hips, the key here is CARE. Please see above HIP JOINTS as the care is the same! Keep your Bulldog light on weight, off slippery surfaces, and supplemented well!
BRACHYCEPHALIC SYNDROME: The full name of this disorder is brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS) (flat faced). Virtually all dogs of any flat faced dog breeds (including all French & English bulldogs) have some degree of increased effort associated with breathing from the time they are born. Many have varying degrees of obstruction to their airways. The most common anatomical features that lead to the respiratory difficulties typical of these dog breeds, include elongated soft palate (which all bulldogs have to some degree), narrowed nostrils, relatively small trachea (hypoplastic trachea). Along with the breed being brachycephalic comes smaller trachea size (TRACHEA IS THE 2ND MOST COMMONLY MISDIAGNOSED BULLDOG ISSUE).
Research says that 55% of all bulldogs are hypoplastic. Excessive panting over periods of time can cause scar damage to form in the trachea. Another reason to keep bulldogs cool.
It is VERY important to note: If your vet tells you that your French or English bulldog has a hypoplastic trachea, demand the exact trachea measurement! Often vets misdiagnose the trachea size without even measuring the trachea! No trachea diagnoses should be made without the complete measurement! Also having the measurement will help diagnose exactly how small your bulldogs trachea is which will help determine the long term prognosis and best treatment.
How is brachycephalic syndrome inherited? Selection for exaggerated features has resulted in the respiratory difficulties in these breeds. For example breed standards for the English bulldog specify that the face should be very short, as should the distance between the tip of the nose and where it is set deep between the eyes. It is hardly surprising that this leaves little room for the structures involved in normal breathing. This being said Bulldogs that are more show quality or "more perfect" often show greater degrees of brachycephalic syndrome.
What does brachycephalic syndrome mean to your dog and you?
You can greatly help your French or English Bulldog's long term respiratory health by not allowing him to overheat or excessively pant. Allowing your French or English Bulldog to pant for long periods of time can actually cause exaggerated breathing issues by stretching out his soft palate, causing scar damage to his trachea & putting unneeded stress on his heart. Overheating is especially dangerous in these brachycephalic dog breeds, because increased panting (the normal mechanism for cooling in dogs) can cause further swelling and narrowing of the already constricted airways, which will increase your dog's anxiety. Excitement, exercise, or warm weather (and especially a combination of these factors) can trigger this vicious cycle. These dogs can also have gastrointestinal problems, because of difficulties coordinating swallowing when they are working so hard at breathing. This can result in vomiting or gagging because of swallowing so much air, or aspiration pneumonia, because of breathing in saliva or food particles. KEEP YOUR BULLDOG COOL!
Some cooling products that can be VERY helpful in keeping your Bulldog safe in Summer months are cool collars, spray bottles & cool jackets: www.calmingcollars.com (also, spray bottles with cool water).
All dogs of these brachycephalic breeds have an increased risk associated with sedation and anesthesia, for which your veterinarian should take extra precautions. Because changes in anatomy are common to all dogs of these flat faced dog breeds, diagnosis is really a question of the degree of abnormality. The overlong soft palate is best examined under general anesthesia, and so, because of the associated risks, your vet will most likely ask your permission in advance to surgically correct it at the same time if necessary. Neutering can often be performed at the same time.
How is brachycephalic syndrome treated? Medical treatment (oxygen therapy, corticosteroids): Albuterol sulfate breathing treatments are most effective when a bulldog has a bad cold or pneumonia. Surgery could be required. Most commonly this involves removal of some of the excess fleshy soft palate, and widening of air passages at the nostrils. It is important to keep your dog from becoming overweight, as this will worsen his or her respiratory difficulties in the long run. Please see OVERWEIGHT BULLDOGS.
For the veterinarian: Propofol should be used as this is a short-acting anesthesia. Sedation without intubation will relax upper airway muscles and may increase obstruction, and hyperthermia may develop in an oxygen tent or cage and exacerbate the problem. These dogs, particularly the English bulldog, have an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia following surgery to correct airway problems & should never be left unattended post surgery. In mild episodes of obstruction, short-acting steroids, oxygen therapy or breathing treatments of Albuterol Sulfate are most effective. Cooling the dog while it calms down may be sufficient. Please see HEATSTROKE IN BULLDOGS.
DEMODEX MITES: The demodex mites (Demodex canis) are normal microscopic inhabitants of dog skin. These mites are found under the skin of every dog breed. Similarly, most humans have demodex mites in their eye brows (Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis). ALL dogs of every breed pass it to their puppies. Mother dogs pass the demodex mites to their puppies when they are 3 days old. Demodex can be contagious from dog to dog but is not contagious to people & IS NOT GENETIC (they are contracted from other dogs)! In most dogs demodex mites are present but do not cause a problem unless the dog is stressed or the immune system is lowered which could be caused by bacterial infection, past medication that hasn't worked or surgery. Stress is a major cause, largely when a dog is teething or going through hormonal changes. Demodex mite infestations (demodicosis) are typically seen in puppies and young dogs less than two years old. This is usually due to the growing/immature immune systems of the young animals. Many young dog cases "outgrow" demodicosis on their own, without treatment. This is because the immune system develops, gets stronger, and keeps the Demodex mite population in control. Demodex mites are very commonly seen in young French & English bulldogs. Most bulldog vets understand that demodectic mites are under all dogs skin and show up in puppies due to the immune systems not being developed fully until 18 mos of age. Demodex is more commonly seen in the French and English bulldog breeds as these breeds have naturally lower immune systems than most other dog breeds.
Identifying demodex on your English or French bulldog: It often starts as a flaky, rough, sometimes reddened and moist patch of skin - often on the face, head, neck, ears, chest or front legs/paws. The skin often looks bumpy and rough and may even be damp or oozy. Later pustules resembling acne cysts can develop as the inflamed skin pores/hair follicles get clogged from debris from the mites and become infected and puss-filled.
GOOD IMMUNE SYSTEMS SUPPLEMENTS - Best supplemet we have found is "COMPANION FOR LIFE DOG CHEWABLES" (800) 557-8477 order user ID #1006930; Ester Vitamin C.
PRODUCTS SUCH AS - Goodwinol Ointment, Ivermectin, Amitraz (Mitaban Dips), Milbemycin Oxime (Interceptor), Promeris (Advantage Multi).
INTERDIGITAL CYSTS: Red lumps that appear between the toes on the front or rear feet of your bulldog. Causes can include inverted hair follicles, grass seeds or cutting very long toe nails and altering the pressure put on the toes. To prevent interdigital cysts keep your bulldogs feet dry, clean & nails trimmed short.
You can help alleviate them by soaking the dogs feet in a solution of WARM water & Epsom Salts, highly diluted bleach water, cooled kettle water, dry thoroughly & apply MSM Cream between each toe. A short course of the antibiotic cephalexin for 7-10 days. If your bulldog will allow it squeeze out anything that is ready to burst prior to soaking.
ENTROPIAN: Entropian is a condition where the eyelashes have turned inward and are rubbing against the eye, surgery may be required. Be carful not to confuse this with eyelashes that are just growing astray, these can be plucked with tweezers (you may prefer your vet to do this). This condition can be genetic; however, in most cases it is caused by the bulldog structure of large, wrinkly flat faces. Again, entropian may need 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. However, often times on young dogs or puppies this condition will correct itself as the bulldog grows & changes, so don't rush to do surgery on a puppy as premature surgery can lead to long term problems. Of course, always pick a vet that knows his bulldog stuff :)
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