In general, the health concerns and care of Bulldogs are no more or less complicated than other dog breeds. They are just as likely to suffer from cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy as other dogs and their human handlers. However, Bulldogs are not complainers. Even if they’re in pain, they will not whine unless it is unbearable. Because of this, Bulldogs require constant, careful monitoring to make sure they’re doing alright. To help you take care of your furry family member, here’s information about caring for a Bulldog.

Preventing Problems

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is one of my favorite sayings. It’s always better to do what you can to prevent health problems rather than wait to treat issues when they occur. The first place to start is before the puppies are born. Taking good care of the momma dog improves the chances she will deliver healthy pups. Additionally, she can pass immunity to her young, so it’s important to feed her properly and have her vaccinated against parasites and disease.

If you are purchasing a puppy, make sure to get one from a reputable breeder. This cannot be stressed enough. Good breeders take care of their dogs beginning with pairing males and females who will produce healthy offspring. Before making a purchase, interview the breeder about his or her methods. Ask about the female’s care, pedigree, and ask to see records of vaccinations. If the breeder hesitates or refuses to communicate with you about the dog’s health, walk away.

When you get your Bulldog puppy, take it to a veterinarian for a checkup within 72 hours. The doctor will make sure the dog is healthy, check for signs of common Bulldog diseases, and explain the schedule of vaccinations needed to protect the puppy. These doctors are also a good source of advice for addressing the specific needs of your Bulldog.

Common Health Concerns

Below is a list of common health concerns that affect Bulldogs.

Skin Problems

There are a number of skin problems that can afflict Bulldogs including

  • Eczema
  • Seborrhea
  • Acne
  • Mange
  • Acute Dermatitis
  • Allergic Reactions (environment and internal)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ringworm

Medicated collars can keep fleas, ticks, and other pests away that may aggravate your dog’s skin and cause them to scratch. Inspecting your dog on a regular basis can help you identify skin problems early and treat them before they become serious issues.

Gastrointestinal Issues

The most common problem you’ll have to deal with in this category is diarrhea. Bulldog puppies are particularly susceptible to this. Overfeeding, sudden changes in diet, and illness are the most common reasons for this type of gastrointestinal distress. If your Bulldog begins having diarrhea, cut back on his food rations or switch to a plain mixture of boiled poultry and rice. To make sure your dog doesn’t become dehydrated, keep his water bowl full.

If the problem persists or your dog is vomiting, it’s best to take the animal to the vet for a diagnosis.

Bulldog Eye Problems

Eye problems in Bulldogs are caused by one of three things: trauma, irritation, or infection. Common eye issues include:

  • Cherry Eye – This happens when a gland under the dog’s third eyelid becomes swollen and pops out. If it’s caught early, medication can usually fix the problem. If left too long, surgery may be required to remove the infected gland.
  • Entropian – This occurs when the eyelid rolls inward causing the furry to rub against the cornea. Surgery is required to correct this condition.
  • Corneal Ulcers – This is caused by trauma to the eye that is not treated in time. If the injury continues to be left untreated, it can cause blindness in the affected eye.
  • Dry Eyes – This is often caused by allergies, but can also be the result of tear ducts failing to produce enough tears to keep the eyes moist. If treated early enough, a veterinarian can usually get the ducts to start functioning again. Otherwise, you will have to administer artificial tears several times per day.

Gastric Torsion and Bloat

This is serious condition that commonly affects dogs with barrel chests and small waists like Bulldogs. Gastric torsion and bloating occurs when the stomach become dilated (bloating) due to excess air filling it. The stomach muscle turns on the ligaments supporting it (torsion), which results in the blood supply to the stomach getting cut off. If the problem is not corrected right away, the dog’s health will rapidly deteriorate and he will die within hours.

It is unknown what causes gastric torsion and bloating, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of your Bulldog being affected.

  • Use elevated feeders to reduce the inhalation of air in the stomach
  • Feed the dog smaller meals more often rather than one big meal
  • Wait one to two hours before engaging the dog in exercise

Though the conditions are not related, these same precautions will reduce gas. If your Bulldog frequently drops bombs, try these tips to avoid being gassed out of your home.

Internal and External Parasites

Fleas, ear mites, and ticks are common external parasites that frequently attack dogs. However, these pests are easily dealt with using specially-designed collars, medicated soaps, and similar products.

Internal parasites can be a little more challenging to eradicate. Heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworms get into your Bulldog’s body and cause havoc. In addition to stealing nutrients from the foods the dog eats, these parasites can damage internal organs, leading to severe medical issues like seizures, blindness, and heart disease.

Unfortunately, internal parasites are easily transmitted between dogs. Therefore, it’s important that your Bulldog is treated for them whether they are exhibiting signs of being infected or not. Starting at twelve weeks of age, puppies should be vaccinated every two weeks until they turn six months old and then every month thereafter.

Some of these parasites can be transmitted to humans, so everyone should wash their hands after handling the dog.

Caring for Senior Bulldogs

As Bulldogs age, they begin to slow down. Exactly when this occurs differs. Some dogs start “aging” when they turn eight, and others have the energy and stamina of puppies at age ten. You really have to keep an eye on them and constantly evaluate how your dog is doing.

An aging Bulldog will begin to have problems with their eyesight and hearing. You may notice them running into walls or failing to respond when you call them. Joints begin to stiffen, leading to a slower gait. They may struggle going up and down stairs and getting in and out of vehicles. The best you can do is take extra special care of your Bulldog. Keep them warm at night, make sure they have plenty of water, feed them two small meals rather than one big one each day, and spend lots of time with them.

Bulldogs, in particular, are susceptible to developing vertigo. The dog may be unable to stand upright, may look like they’re drunk when they walk, and their eyes may display nystagmus. The episodes usually last only a short period of time, but they can be scary since many of these symptoms mimic those of a stroke. Have the dog checked out by a vet to ensure it didn’t have a stroke and for an accurate diagnosis. The doctor may prescribe a mild sedative to help keep the dog calm during those episodes, because they can be scary for your canine friend too.

There comes a point in every dog owner’s life when euthanasia must be considered. It’s natural to want a dog to live out their days and die a natural death. However, if the dog is suffering and will never recover from their ailments, the most humane thing to do would likely be to put him or her to sleep. It can be difficult making this choice, but you must keep the dog’s best interests at heart and make the call when necessary.

Alleviating Stress

Although Bulldogs love being around their human companions, they generally have good temperaments and don’t exhibit stress-related behavior issues. You are unlikely to see separation anxiety in Bulldog with the associated excessive barking and other deeds. They don’t need to be constantly reassured or calmed like other breeds.

Now having said that, Bulldogs do enjoy canine massages and acupressure treatments. They can reduce canine stress, improve the dogs’ overall physical health, and help you identify potential problems early. You can learn canine massage and acupressure and perform it yourself. If you are not comfortable doing that, there are professionals who specialize in these types of treatments. It’s best if you do it yourself, though. These treatments are a great way to strengthen the bond between master and pet.

As noted before, caring for your Bulldog is no more or less challenging than taking care of any other breed. Be diligent about your pet’s health and well being and you’ll ensure your canine friend has a long and happy life.