Written By: Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA | Professional Services Veterinarian, Wild Earth
French Bulldogs (Frenchies) are a popular and iconic dog breed known for their unique looks and lovable personalities. However, their notable skin folds along with genetic predispositions make them prone to certain skin issues. Identifying and treating these common skin problems is very important to your bulldog’s overall health and well-being. In this article, I’ll identify the five most common skin conditions in bulldogs, including their causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.
Wrinkle and Fold Dermatitis
One of the defining features of French Bulldogs is their adorable wrinkles and folds, but these adorable facial features can also pose a risk to their skin health. Wrinkle and fold dermatitis, also known as intertrigo, is a common skin issue that affects Bulldogs, causing discomfort and potential complications if left untreated.
Wrinkle and fold dermatitis is primarily caused by the combination of moisture, heat, and friction within the skin folds of Bulldogs. The folds create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive, leading to irritation, inflammation, and infection.
Preventing wrinkle and fold dermatitis is essential for maintaining your French Bulldog’s skin health. Keeping the skin folds clean and dry by regularly cleaning and drying them with a mild, vet-approved cleanser. Another great way to help prevent this issue is to make sure your Bulldog maintains a healthy weight in order to reduce skin fold friction.
French Bulldogs with wrinkle and fold dermatitis may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Redness and inflammation
- Itching and discomfort
- Discoloration of skin within folds
- Skin lesions, ulcers, or crusts may develop
If your French Bulldog is experiencing these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. The treatment may include topical medications, oral medications, a proper cleaning routine using specific cleansers, drying agents, or medicated wipes, and perhaps dietary changes.
French Bulldogs are prone to allergies, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and contact allergies. These allergies can manifest as itching, redness, rashes, and ear infections.
The top five most common food allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, chicken, wheat and lamb. According to a study on PubMed.gov, after five weeks of their dog patients “starting an elimination diet, more than 80% of patients had achieved a remission of clinical signs of CAFR [Cutaneous Adverse Food Reactions].” That means your dog’s allergies could be eliminated just by changing what they eat, namely by removing those common food allergens, so consider switching their dog food. 86% of customers reported a positive health benefit for their dog after switching to Wild Earth dog food!
If your pup does suffer from food allergies, make sure to eliminate all other sources of animal-based protein, including treats and table scraps. Our Wild Earth treats are a great way to treat your dog, without the itch! Try one of our flavors – Banana and Cinnamon, Strawberry and Beet, or Peanut Butter.
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Environmental and Contact Allergies
Environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or certain chemicals can cause allergies. Bulldogs can be sensitive to irritants in their environment as they have short fur and don’t have a thick undercoat to protect their skin like many other breeds. This means that their skin comes into contact with environmental or contact irritants more often, including which can easily be picked up on walks. To help protect your pup from these common allergens, wipe down their paws and bellies after walks with a damp towel.
Other possible contact allergens can include anything your dog comes into contact with, including household cleaning products, detergents, and shampoos. If you suspect your dog is suffering from environmental allergies, speak to your veterinarian. They may prescribe antihistamines or medications such as Cytopoint. You can also help by changing your HVAC filters regularly, using hypoallergenic grooming products, and using powerful air purifiers indoors.
Interdigital cysts, also known as interdigital furuncles, are a common skin condition that can affect French Bulldogs. These painful and often recurring cysts occur between the toes and can cause discomfort and mobility issues for your beloved fur baby. These cysts are often caused by bacteria or yeast that penetrate the skin between the toes, leading to inflammation and infection. Allergies can also contribute to the development of interdigital cysts in French Bulldogs.
While some French Bulldogs may be more prone to interdigital cysts due to their genetics, there are preventive measures that can help minimize the occurrence of this condition. First, keep your French Bulldog’s paws clean and dry by regularly wiping them with a gentle, pet-safe cleanser. Make sure to thoroughly dry the paws, paying special attention to the interdigital areas. Second, regularly inspect your French Bulldog’s paws for any signs of foreign bodies, such as splinters or debris, removing any you find (you may need assistance from your veterinarian). Third, if your French Bulldog has known allergies, work with your veterinarian to identify and manage the triggers. This may involve dietary changes, environmental modifications, or prescribed medications. Lastly, minimize exposure to potential irritants, such as harsh cleaning products or chemicals, that can aggravate the skin and contribute to cyst formation.
If your French Bulldog is suffering from interdigital cysts, other than fluid-filled bumps between the toes, you may notice swelling, redness, drainage, and odor. You may also notice your French Bulldog limping. If these signs develop, it is important to consult with a veterinarian immediately for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Your veterinarian may recommend warm soaks, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or surgical intervention if conservative treatments fail.
Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that can occur in French Bulldogs, and often develops secondary to allergic dermatitis. French Bulldogs with underlying allergies, such as food allergies or environmental allergies, may have compromised skin barriers, making them more susceptible to pyoderma. Moisture and heat in the skin folds promote bacterial growth, and then skin injuries, scratching, or excessive licking can disrupt the skin’s natural defense mechanisms, allowing bacteria to penetrate and cause infection. Insufficient cleaning of skin folds can also contribute to the development of pyoderma. Moreover, French Bulldogs with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions may be more susceptible to developing pyoderma.
The symptoms of pyoderma in French Bulldogs can vary depending on the severity and location of the infection. Typical signs of pyoderma include skin redness and inflammation, and small, pus-filled bumps on the skin which can rupture, resulting in discharge or crusting. Your Bulldog will likely experience itching, leading to scratching, licking, or rubbing at the affected areas. As pyoderma progresses, hair loss or thinning may occur in the infected regions. If the infection becomes severe or there is a secondary yeast infection, you may notice a foul odor.
If you suspect your dog has pyoderma, consult with your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will assess the severity of the infection and may recommend diagnostic tests, such as skin scrapings or bacterial cultures, to identify the specific bacteria involved. They may recommend antibiotics, topical treatments, and proper skinfold hygiene.
Keep an Eye on Your French Bulldog!
French Bulldogs make great companions, but they can be prone to certain skin issues. Understanding the most common skin issues that affect French Bulldogs and implementing preventative measures such as proper hygiene, weight management, and veterinary guidance can help keep your French Bulldog’s skin healthy and ensure their overall well-being. If you notice persistent or severe skin problems, it is important to see your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. With proper care and attention, you can give your beloved French Bulldog the comfortable skin they deserve.
Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA
Dr. Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva is the Professional Services Veterinarian here at Wild Earth. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Brown University, and attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in general practice, on telehealth platforms, and in animal rehabilitation. She has worked tirelessly to gain expertise in the field of canine nutrition through numerous certifications and coursework, and plans to pursue her Masters in Animal Nutrition.