Bulldog Skin Problems



Skin related issues are one of the more common ailments in Bulldogs. The skin is the single largest organ, and is the protective barrier between the dog’s internal organs and the outside word. And let’s face it, there are plenty of nasties out there, such as parasites, bacteria and man made chemicals. The skin can also be affected from the inside by things that the dog ingests (eats or drinks), some foods contain products that can trigger allergic reactions in dogs. There are also genetic abnormalities that can cause issues and genetic predispositions that can be passed on where dogs may be more susceptible to certain problems.

I will discuss some of the common problems found in Bulldogs here but your ultimate source for advice is your vet. If your dog is showing any indication of a skin condition, early diagnosis and treatment is the best thing that you can do for your dog.


Often the first indication that there is a skin problem is when you notice the dog scratching and biting the affected area. Often there are obvious issues with the dog’s coat. This may be hair loss, discolouration or inconsistencies caused by lumps and flakes of skin in the coat. Other indicators might be odour or bleeding and other liquid discharges.
 When a dog scratches they can injure the skin making the problem worse and even more difficult to diagnose. You need to check your dog as soon as you observe this behaviour.


Fleas and Ticks

External parasites include fleas, ticks and mites, who are biting and irritating your dog. There are plenty of commercial flea and tick treatments, however it is possible for your dog to be allergic to these. Use them cautiously and look for any signs of trouble for a week or so after first use. There are also natural anti-flea products available that make your dog less desirable to fleas.
If using a commercial treatment it is highly recommended to use one supplied and endorsed by your veterinarian as opposed to a supermarket brand. This is because your vet will ask you all the pertinent questions to ensure that the treatment is right for your Bulldog and your household.
Some recommended brands are: Frontline, Advantage, Capstar, K9 Advantix and Preventic. A successful natural alternative flea deterrent I have used is “Flee Flea”.



Mites are the cause of mange which involves hair loss and irritation.
The demodex mite causes demodetic mange, this happens when a dog’s immune system is compromised and in elderly dogs where mite numbers get out of control. It is not contagious. Demodetic mange is generally treated with Ivermectin until the infestation is eliminated.
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and is caused by the burrowing Sarcoptic mite who dig into the skin causing itching and hair loss. Skin damage can occur from the dogs scratching and consequently secondary infection can occur. Affected dogs need to be isolated and can be treated with Sulphurated Lime washes, Selamectin or Ivermectin.

Ear Mites

Ear mites live in the dogs ear cavity causing itchy ears and a foul odour. They excrete dark red waste which can be seen if a swab is taken with a cotton bud. The mites are tiny and white, you may see them as tiny white dots on your swab.
Treatment requires the use of Ivermectin based ointments, any secondary infections may also require an antibiotic

Hot Spots

Some bulldogs are susceptible to the condition known as “Hot Spots” or acute moist dermatitis. This is where localised area of skin becomes inflamed from other underlying causes and is then aggravated by the Bulldog scratching, biting or licking itself. The area develops a Staphylococcus infection which can spread quickly after only a few hours.
Hot spots are treated using corticosteroids and antibiotics. It is then necessary to address the likely cause of the initial irritation.


Dogs, like humans, can be allergic to a myriad of things. The most common problem is usually the food that is being fed. The more processed a food is the more likely it is to contain something that disagrees with your dog.  Your first step should be to change your dog’s diet. Lamb and rice biscuit formulas or frozen lamb foods offer the least risk of allergy.
The next likely cause is something in the Bulldogs immediate environment. This could be a change in bathing / grooming products, new bedding or washing products used for their bedding. Plants and pollen can cause problems too, as well as weed sprays, paints, fencing stains etc. Look for recent changes in your household, it is a matter of eliminating variables one by one. If the allergy is known to be caused by naturally occurring factors like pollen, it is possible to have an antigen treatment made up specifically for your Bulldog.

Hormonal problems

Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland doesn't secrete enough hormones. When the hormone levels drop, dogs can lose hair, the skin can darken and become scaly. Vets can test for Hyperthyroidism through blood testing. Treatment involves using a hormone replacement drug. The dog will improve quickly but the coat may take several months to regenerate.


Ringworm in not actually a worm it is a fungal infection. It causes a circular sore, from which the hair falls out, the can vary in size. The vet can check for ringworm using a special lamp in a darkened room. The fungal infection will glow under the lamp. Oral medications are required to get rid of the problem.


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