The Bulldog Club of Utah

Here are some health topics you should know when owning a bulldog
(scroll to the bottom of page for link to additional health topics)

Lifespan of A Bulldog

The average lifespan for an English Bulldog is between 8 and 12 years. It is a member of the brachycephalic breed class, meaning that is has a short head and snout. This physical characteristic can lead to a number of possible health challenges, including those of the nose, eyes, teeth, and respiratory system. The nostrils are narrower, and the soft palate longer in the Bulldog (meaning that the skin of the palate can partially obstruct the airway), creating the potential for severe breathing problems, especially when the dog is overheated or over excited. Heat is a special concern with this breed, since it is not able to cool itself efficiently through panting, as other breeds do. 

Because of the extra amount of work that is involved with bringing air into the body, any situation that requires breathing harder can lead to irritation and swelling of the throat, which can also lead to respiratory distress in the Bulldog. Heat stroke is also more common with this breed.
Some of the major health problems the Bulldog is susceptible to are keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), ventricular septal defect, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), shoulder luxation, internalized tail, stenotic nares, and elongated soft palate. The Bulldog has also been known to suffer from urethral prolapse or vaginal hyperplasia occasionally.

Some minor problems affecting Bulldogs include entropion, cherry eye, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, distichiasis, ectropion, and demodicosis.
(To help lower the risk of these conditions it is crucial to research responsible breeders and to ask them questions surrounding their breeding practices. Although this may not 100% eliminate all of the risks listed above it may lower them considerably)

Vaccination Basics

The breeders will give your puppy a series of vaccinations against common communicable diseases.  They sometimes give the first shots as early as 5-6 weeks of age, although they frequently do not give them before 8-9 weeks of age.  Many breeders (and Vets) differ on what is the appropriate timing for the shots.

If they give shots at around 8-9 weeks, the shots are usually given in a series of three, spaced a month apart and provide combined protection against distemper, infectious hepatitis, kennel cough, Parainfluenza, parvovirus, and sometimes leptospirosis .  A series of shots is required, since the maternal antibodies, which are transmitted thought the mother's milk and protect the puppy from birth, may interfere with getting immunity from the shots.  The multiple shots ensure that the vaccination will take effect shortly after the maternal antibodies lose their strength.  At four months, your puppy will need vaccination against rabies.

By the time you get your dog, he will have been inoculated against some or all of the diseases discussed.  Shots should be renewed on a set schedule to ensure continued immunity.  Your breeder will let you know what shots your dogs got and when he got them.  Your Vet will tell you when the next shots are due and which ones to get.  Be sure to follow-up with your Vet to make sure inoculations are kept current.  If you take those simple precautions, your dog will probably never have any of the diseases against which they vaccinate him.

If your dog will be coming in contact with many other dogs (either in shows or in a kennel) they recommend the widest range of inoculations.

Rabies - is a fatal disease of warm-blooded animals and is a growing problem in the United States today, especially in the Northeast. Any wild animal that appears friendly, lets you approach it, or froths at the mouth should be avoided as suspect.

State laws require vaccination against it, but differ on the frequency of the vaccination.  In New Jersey, vaccinations boosters must be given every year.  In New York and Pennsylvania, a three-year vaccine is permitted.  The live virus provides longer-lasting protection.

Recommendations to avoid over-vaccination
The protocol below was accepted by all 27 veterinary schools in the United States.

Know the Core and Non-Core Vaccines  - Recommendations about core and non-core vaccines have changed.  Core vaccines that every dog should receive include parvovirus, canine distemper, rabies and adenovirus-2. Non-core vaccines depend on your dog's age, geographic location and lifestyle.

Annual vaccinations  - Many vaccines don't require annual boosters because immunity can last for years. Other vaccines are essential for puppies but aren't necessary for adult dogs who have strong immune systems and are less likely to contract the disease. Rabies shots, however, should always be kept up to date. Guidelines and laws regarding Rabies vary state by state. 

Risks vary by region -  Some vaccines, like those for Lyme disease and rattlesnake bites, are only relevant if your dog lives in a high-risk area.

Lifestyle -  House pets and urban dogs who aren't exposed to wild animal habitats and the outdoors may not need the same vaccinations for diseases as dogs used for hunting, herding or outdoor actvities. Dogs that aren't exposed to other dogs in kennels, colonies or dog shows may not need vaccinations against bordatella or coronavirus.

Talk with your veterinarian about the highest risks for your dog based on location, age and lifestyle in order to find the best vaccination schedule.  

Summary of New AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines for 2011
(Click on a link to view the recommendations)



Vaccination Protocols
Vaccination Types


Overheating --  Many Bulldogs are relatively heat tolerant.  They are smart animals who generally will temper their activity level to the weather.  Bulldogs have been known to choose to lie outside in 95 degree heat without problems, even choosing it over air-conditioned space inside.  However, their care is your responsibility, so you should be vigilant when your dogs are outside in the heat and make sure they do not get overheated.

If your dog is overheated and/or over excited, it is critical to calm him down, since this can raise the body temperature like a fever does.  You should make sure the throat is free of mucous, and minimize the swelling due to heat.  Fast action is essential and you generally will not have a real problem if you act quickly rather then letting problems build.  It is better to err on the side of caution with these situations: you won't harm the dog with water and ice, but overheating can debilitate and even kill any animal, even humans.

If your dog has a problem, you can clear the dog's throat of mucous with your finger.  A squirt of lemon juice will cut through any mucous and clear the throat.  Some dogs like the taste of lemon; many hate it.   Then give him ice cubes and hold his mouth shut to make him chew them if necessary.  Get him to a spot where he can lie calmly out of the heat.

Don't leave your dog outside in the hot sun unsupervised.  Don't have him sit around on a leash without access to water while you're socializing if it's warm.  Never leave any dog in an enclosed car in the summer - cars turn into ovens really easily in hot weather
You should become aware of the sound and rhythm of the dog's normal breathing and panting.  If your dog is over-excited, his breathing will be abnormally fast and hard.  If the dog is hyperventilating, his tongue will have a bluish cast instead of the normal pink and it will hang out unusually far.  His panting will be heavy, probably with a rasping sound and he may look wild eyed.  To treat him, you will need to use some or all of the following: water, ice, lemon juice, and aspirin suppositories.

You can immediately place him in a tub of cold (but not ice) water or in a cold shower.  If you're outside, pour water over him - straight from a garden hose if possible.  He may not like it, but do it anyway.  It's important to get him wet down to the skin so evaporation of the water can speed bodily cooling.  Then get him into the shade. You can clear then his throat with lemon juice.  Give him ice cubes and hold a compress of ice cubes on his genitals and/or head.  If his temperature is high (a dog's normal temperature is about 102 degrees), give him an aspirin suppository.
Nostrils  -  Breathing problems can start where the air first comes in - at the nostrils.  The Bulldog standard calls for wide nostrils to maximize the airflow and a well-bred Bulldog should have large, well-opened nostrils.  However, nostrils of Bulldogs come in a variety of sizes, and narrow nostrils can cause problems.  In that case, the nasal cartilage can restrict airflow.  Fortunately, this is not usually a problem.  Nostrils can be surgically enlarged to increase air flow, but it is infrequent that it is necessary.  If not corrected, especially is there are other respiratory issues present, narrow nostrils can lead to problems breathing, especially when the dog is active. 
Soft Palate  -  The next potential point for blockage of airflow is the soft palate.  The front part of the roof of the mouth is the hard palate and the rear, up until the windpipe, is the soft palate.  When the soft palate is elongated, as it may be in brachiocephalic dogs, it can partially block the airway when the animal breathes.  Treatment will depend on the amount of tissue, its location and the dog's temperament.  A calm dog, with a slight elongation of the soft palate may need nothing more than extra attention during hot weather (when throats tend to swell).

By the age of four or five months, the Vet should be able to tell you if the soft palate is elongated.  If he doesn't have it by that age, he won't suddenly develop it later in life.  If it is elongated, by 6-8 months of age you'll know about how long it will be and whether it's a problem depending on your dog's activity level and your lifestyle.  The soft palate can be surgically shortened if it causes serious problems, especially if the animal is excitable.  This is because an excitable animal will breathe and pant harder, which causes swelling of the throat, which is already partially blocked by the soft palate.

Where surgery is indicated, it will generally be performed after the puppy has reached full growth - after 10-12 months.  You must wait this long for two reasons.  First to determine whether this is a real problem - you don't want your dog to have unnecessary surgery.  Second, if done much earlier, it's harder to predict the final head size and the Vet may take off too much or too little.

Reputable breeders have made significant improvements in the frequency of palate issues.  Fifteen years ago, it would be difficult to talk ringside at a dog show because of the noise made by the breathing of the dogs.  Today, the incidence of palate problems has been reduced by breeders paying attention to the issue in their breedings.  This along is a good reason to get a puppy from a member of BCAs Breeder Referral Program.
Tonsils  -  Yes, your dog has tonsils just like you do and they are subject to the same potential problems.  Some dogs never have problems; some get tonsillitis and, if antibiotics don't work, have their tonsils taken out because of infection.  Tonsils which are too large can be removed - it's a relatively minor operation, just like with children.  The dog usually can be home the same day and won't spend more than a night with the Vet.

Trachea  -  The size of the trachea (windpipe) also varies among dogs.  While a large windpipe makes breathing easier, dogs can do quite well with narrower openings.  Bulldog windpipes are generally smaller compared to the size of the dog than in other breeds.  The size of the windpipe cannot be corrected surgically.  This is another area where BCA breeders have focused their attention.

As long as the windpipe is big enough for the dog to live a good life, it's not a big issue for you.  For the Vet, the issue will center on the best way to anesthetize the dog if surgery is required for some other condition.  You can discuss this with your Vet.

Bulldogs have relatively narrow windpipes for their size.  The unusual construction of their nasal passages and soft palates, coupled with the narrower trachea, makes them exceptionally vulnerable to breathing problems in the heat.  Over excitement, and the resulting hyperventilation, causes similar problems.  This can result from swelling of the soft palate tissue, poor tissue tone, or too long a soft palate, each of which can block off the windpipe.  In addition, prolonged problem breathing can cause eversion of the laryngeal saccules, causing them to close over the windpipe during breathing.
Reverse Sneezing -  This is a frightening, but harmless, condition seen fairly frequently in Bulldogs.  When this happens, the dog pulls air into the nose fiercely, producing an incredible racket.  It seems as though he was trying to clear his nasal passages.  After the first few times, you will get used to this.  The dog is entirely normal afterwards and no treatment is needed.

Allergic Reactions  -  Just like people, dogs can develop allergies.  If the dog breaks out in welts or looks as though he has hives he is probably having an allergic reaction.  Take him to the Vet without delay.  He'll probably get shots to alleviate the problem.  Then you have to identify the cause.  Common causes are flea bites (some dogs are allergic to fleas) or a contact allergy.   As a precaution, you can have your house sprayed for fleas twice a year by a professional.  It doesn't cost much and provides a long lasting remedy for a potentially unpleasant problem.  If you keep the flea population under control, you should reduce the chance of allergic reactions.

Some dogs are allergic to chemicals used to clean rugs or floors.  Dogs have been known to be allergic to a supermarket brand of rug cleaner, so be careful of such things.  Of course, dogs may chase chase wasps or bees, whose stings can cause an allergic reaction, so you can never be sure.  If he is allergic, you have to be especially careful, since an allergic attack sometimes produces respiratory problems.  If allergies are identified, it would be good to have your Vet recommend medications to treat an acute allergic attack.


Dermatitis -  One of the most common canine conditions leading to veterinary visits is itching, scratching and biting the skin.  Dermatitis can have several causes and can vary in severity.  However, with routine skin care and careful observation of your dog, you can minimize  the impact of skin issues on your dog's health.
Allergies -  As mentioned under Breathing, Just like people, dogs can develop allergies.  If the dog breaks out in welts or looks as though he has hives he is probably having an allergic reaction.  Dogs may be allergic to a variety of substances, including lawn grasses, chemicals, bug bites, food ingredients, medication and dust.  You have to identify the specific cause to treat it.  Treatment usually can ameliorate the problem, but rarely cure it.  Avoidance of the allergy inducing substance is crucial for treatment.
If he is allergic, you have to be especially careful, since an allergic attack sometimes also produce respiratory problems.  If allergies are identified, it would be good to have your Vet recommend medications to treat an acute allergic attack.
Hot Spots - This is a weeping sore or moist dermatitis associated with hair loss. It can result from the dog's scratching itself continually. You need to catch this quickly, since it can rapidly spread over the dog's coat. Treatment consists of shaving and thoroughly cleaning the effected area and applying a topical antibiotic and anti-itch powder or ointment. A drying agent, like hydrogen peroxide, may be beneficial. After bathing the effected area, application of a hydrocortisone cream is helpful. Recovery is usually fast. If the dog is in severe pain, tranquillizers may be helpful. If the dog can reach the effected area, an Elizabethan collar can be used to prevent licking or biting the sores.
Nutritional Deficiency -  An unbalanced diet or one that does not provide the right balance of nutritional ingredients, can lead to a dry tichy coat in dogs.  Be sure that the food you feed your dog meets its nutritional requirements.  In some cases, a supplement may be needed if your dog food does not provide the right balance of nutrients.


Fleas- which feed on blood, are the most common parasites on dogs. The presence of fleas can be observed from black and white flecks about the size of grains of sand in your dog's coat. The white are eggs and the black are flea feces. Of course, you may also see the fleas. Flea eggs incubate on your rugs and furniture, so if there are fleas, you should have your entire house professionally treated to eliminate the problem.
 A temporary infestation which is quickly caught can be handled by spraying, dips, use of a flea collar, or flea powders. We do not use flea collars because of the danger the dog could chew each other's and poison themselves. This is not a problem in an only dog household. Dips and sprays are quick, effective and long lasting. You must treat both the dog and the environment or the problem will only reoccur. Once the fleas are eliminated, theyre are monthly medications which can successfully keep your dog flea free.
 Some dogs are allergic to the flea's saliva and develop a rash and itching. Since fleas tend to gather around the tail, you may notice your dog scooting or backing up against things to rub his bottom on. Cortisone treatment by a Vet, coupled with dipping and use of topical antibiotics is effective in treating the allergic reaction.
Ticks- live in wooded areas from Spring until mid-Summer (depending on the weather). Adult ticks attach themselves to you dog for two to four days of feeding on their blood. You should check for ticks daily if your dog is outside, especially in wooded areas. In bad seasons, you may find 10 to 20 ticks on your dog each day.
Ticks carry many diseases, among which are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease, which can affect both animals and man. Therefore, you should remove ticks quickly and safely. The tick can be killed by applying alcohol or fingernail polish directly to it with a cotton swab. After several minutes, it will die and be ready for removal. Grasp the dead tick with a tissue as close to the skin as possible and apply steady pressure until it comes loose. In more rural areas, where severe tick problems are more prevalent, sprays or dips can be used. Be sure to treat the dog's sleeping quarters when you treat him. As with any poison, read the label carefully and seek your Vet's advice on treatment.

Sarcoptic mange- is caused by a mite. Your dog will scratch and bite at himself consistently. Scabs, crusting areas and hair loss are common. There are several dips which will control the problem. Your Vet can give you cortisone to control the itching and you can use Panalog to soothe the infected area.

Demodectic mange- is caused by mites which live in hair follicles and feed on sebum. Since sebum production increases at puberty, it is most prevalent at that time. Most dogs have these mites without exhibiting any symptoms. Susceptibility to the disease appears to be genetically transmitted.  It occurs more frequently in young dogs and dogs under stress.   It causes the loss of hair and a spotty looking coat, with no signs of itching. In severe cases, the skin first becomes red, thickened and scaly. It then becomes oily and begins to smell. This should be treated quickly. There are both topical and systemic treatments for this. You should consult your Vet for the right remedy. With appropriate treatment, you dog can be free of this disease.
Infectious dermatitis -  This disease can be caused by bacterial, fungal or yeast organisms.  One type is Ringworm which gets its name from the appearance - a red ring at the margin of a rapidly spreading ring of hair loss. It is not cause by a worm, but a fungus living on the skin.  Microscopic examination of skin scrapings and fungus cultures is best for diagnosis. For minor infections, the hair should be clipped away from the effected area and the area bathed with Betadine shampoo or whatever your Vet prescribes. More severe cases can be handled with prescription drugs.

Digestive System

The digestive system breaks down nutrients so your dog can absorb them, helps prevent toxins from entering general circulation and eliminates waste.  Most digestive system diseases are reflected in familiar symptoms - diarrhea, gas, constipation, vomiting, poor appetite and weight loss.  Although not illnesses themselves, they all indicate the possibility of an underlying problem.  While treating the symptom will frequently eliminate the problem, you should be careful not to overlook a hidden problem.

Vomiting- This is one of the most common symptoms you will see.  This makes it harder to know what is means.  Occasional vomiting may be due to excitement, overeating, or digesting cold water quickly following a meal.  Dogs who eat grass will also vomit.  If you can see the cause, you don't need to worry.  Vomiting once or twice in an otherwise healthy appearing dog is generally no cause for alarm.  If your dog is vomiting and looks listless and sick or if he vomits blood, you should see your Vet.
Diarrhea- is a symptom, not a disease.  You must be sure to treat the underlying cause as well.  Sometimes it's something simple like a change of food, other times it can be caused by an infection of the intestine.  If he has loose, unformed stools for more than a day or two, especially if he appears listless or doesn't want to eat, be sure he sees a Vet quickly.  It's not unusual to see a trace of bright red blood in the stool with diarrhea.  If there is a lot of blood or if its dark red, or if he is vomiting or has a fever with the diarrhea, get the dog to a Vet immediately.
​​For non-serious cases, withhold food and water for 24 hours.  Give him small amounts of ice cubes to eat if he seems thirsty.  Keep Kaopectate on your medicine shelf.  Use dosages appropriate for his weight as noted on the bottle.  Dunk something he loves into the Kaopectate (small pieces of chicken) and feed him until he's had the entire dose.  Repeat after every bowl movement until the stool is solid.  His stool may change color until the medicine is out of his system.  Pepto-Bismol also works for this and nausea.  It turns the stool dark.
When you feed him, give him equal parts of rice and chopped meat with the fat drained off, or cottage cheese and pasta, instead of his regular dog food until his stool is back to normal.  Gradually mix dog food back into the meat/rice mixture until he's back on his normal feed.  Prescription diets are available from your Vet.  Check under his tail and keep the area scrupulously clean. Use Panalog if it's sore - as it almost certainly will be.

Constipation -  Constipation exhibits itself as the inability of the dog to pass stool.  Most dogs have a stool one or two times a day - going for two days without one is not unusual.  You should get to know your dog's routine so you can see if it changes.  It can be caused by poor diet, eating indigestible substances and voluntary retention.  Poor diet can be addressed through Milk of Magnesia or mineral oil as a laxative and feeding a high residue diet.
Eating indigestible substances can cause fecal impaction.  The dog will pass watery or blood-tinged stool, forced around the blockage . Your Vet can give the dog an enema to expel the block.  Surgery might be required if nothing else works.

Voluntary retention- occurs when a dog refuses to have a stool.  The dog seems to be "holding his breath" as humans do when a bathroom is not available.  This is common when a dog is away from his home environment and the cues for acceptable locations are absent.  A mild laxative, like mineral oil, can help lubricate the dry stool and ease passage.  You should give your dog several chances a day to eliminate if you think this is the cause.

Passing Gas  -  You couldn't write about Bulldog digestive problems without mentions passing gas.  Diets high in fermentables (beans, cabbage, etc.), milk or meat can make the condition more likely.  Bulldogs seem prone to it.  It's something you learn to live with.  You can try a course of antibiotic therapy followed by cultured yogurt or buttermilk for a while to create "good" bacteria in the intestine.

Gastritis  -  Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining following its irritation.  Its principle symptom is vomiting.  Acute gastritis is accompanied by diarrhea, which should be treated as explained above. Chronic gastritis exhibits sporadic vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and lethargy.  You should have your Vet determine if there is some illness which should be treated or whether a change to a special diet is required.

Bloat  -  Bloat, or acute gastric dilation-torsion complex, is a life threatening illness.  Luckily this is not frequently seen in Bulldogs.  While acute gastric dilation can be treated at home, immediate response by a Vet is essential for torsion to keep your dog alive.  He will have to relieve the gas or turn the stomach to permit normal digestion.  Gastric dilation, and related torsion of the stomach usually, occurs in older animals and is caused by gas or fluid build-up.  The symptoms are abdominal distension coupled with dry heaves - retching without being able to vomit.

Cleft Palate  -  Cleft palate, which is an opening in the oral and nasal cavity,  is a birth defect in Bulldogs.  It permits food and liquid to pass between the oral and nasal cavities.     It is difficult for the puppy to create enough suction to nurse.     Almost all puppies you see will not have this problem, since they will not have survived until that age.  Those who do will usually have easily visible clefts.  It can be surgically corrected if the dog can sustain itself.  Once corrected, the dog can live a happy life as a pet.

Anal Sacs  - Anal Sacs are scent glands located at the base of the tail under the skin.  They normally empty into the very end of the rectum when the dog evacuates his bowels, marking his territory.  They can get impacted or clogged.  You can tell that your dog has impacted anal sacs, worms, or allergic dermatitis if he sits strangely on his rump and rocks back and forth or if he drags his rump on the ground.  Clogged anal sacs are easily emptied by the Vet.  It's easy to do and he can show you how if you're interested in doing it yourself (Most people are not).
Liver Disease  -  Liver disease can be caused by many factors, including infection, bile duct obstructions, cancer, heartworms, and poisons.  The symptoms vary, but usually include loss of appetite, loss of weight, nausea, and jaundice.  Treatment by a Vet is essential and can require hospitalization.

Intestinal Worms  - It's possible to see some types of worms in the dog's stool.  A dog with worms should be taken to the Vet for treatment since it's important to make sure you're treating the right kind of worms.  The treatment and medication vary for different worms.  The treatment of worms is generally easy and not messy.  To eliminate the worms, you will give your dog pills according to a schedule the Vet will set.  They are usually gone quickly.  Puppies are sometimes born with worms, even when the mother was dewormed.  This can occur since the dewormers are not effective against larvae encysted in the tissues. During pregnancy, the larvae may mature and migrate to the puppies in the uterus.

Roundworms -  Roundworms are acquired through eating soil containing the eggs.  Roundworms look like gray or whitish strands in feces.  Potbellied puppies, not just healthy fat ones, may harbor worms.  A stool sample should be checked by your Vet during the puppy's first visit since a severe infestation can lead to death.    The larval forms of the worm travel throughout the body and can cause dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.  Since the worms can be transmitted infrequently to humans, caution is required.

Tapeworms  -  Tapeworms look like grains of rice in the stool and dried segments looking like brown rice can be found around the tail or in areas which the dog sits.  It is acquired by eating raw meat or fish or from swallowing infected fleas.  Since the mature worm feeds in the intestine, your dog will eat large quantities of food without any weight gain.  Mild diarrhea, weight loss and loss of appetite are the major symptoms.  Be sure to clear up any flea problems associated with the dog as part of the tapeworm problem to prevent reinfestation.

Hookworms  -  Hookworms are contracted from the infected feces of other dogs or cats.  They attach to the intestinal wall and take blood from the dog.   Puppies can get them through the bitch's placenta or her milk when nursing.  Puppies with severe cases require veterinary action.  Microscopic examination of the feces is best to identify the presence of these parasites.  A dog with hookworms is listless, has a black or bloody stool, with a poor appetite and unexplained weight loss.  Severely infested dogs can die if not treated.


Eye problems are potentially serious.  Minor problems can become major ones if not addressed.  See your Vet if the problem does not correct itself or with home remedy within a day.
To administer ointments to the eye, pull down the lower lid and place the ointment on the inner surface.  Then rub the eyelid gently over the eyeball to spread the medication.  Applying it directly to the eyeball can be dangerous if the dog jerks his head.  Eye drops can be placed directly on the eyeball.  Hold the eyelids open momentarily while the drops are applied.
Eyelashes  -  Some Bulldogs develop a congenital condition in which extra eyelashes grow from the lid and rub against the cornea.   The irritation may range from hardly noticeable to very severe with heavy tearing.  The hair can be removed by plucking - it's not as hard as it sounds and the dogs adjust to it.  The condition may improve in time so treatment is no longer needed.  In severe cases, the hairs can be removed by electrolysis.  However, your dog will have to undergo general anesthesia, so the procedure is a serious one.  If left untreated, continued irritation of the eye in a severe case can lead to corneal scarring or blindness.

Dry Eye  -  This is a disease, usually of the older dog, which results from inadequate tear production, sometimes from the surgical treatment of Cherry Eye.   The eyes appear dull and listless and the eye has a thick discharge.  This can lead to infection or corneal ulcers if left untreated.  Fortunately, this is an easy disease to treat if not a severe case.  There are many artificial tear products in the drug store which can be used several times a day to relieve the condition.  In more severe cases, a drug can be used in the eye or an operation may be required to transplant the salivary duct to the eye to maintain the flow of fluid.

Conjunctivitis -  This is a common disease of all domestic animals (including humans, where "pink eye" is an infectious form).  Its cause can vary from an infection to allergies and environmental irritants.  Blinking and squinting caused by mild eye pain and tearing are the main symptoms you will notice.  Your Vet can diagnose the cause and prescribe appropriate medical treatment (sometimes eye drops or scraping the conjunctiva) to clear up the condition easily and rapidly.

Corneal Problems -  Corneal ulcers are dangerous and should receive immediate veterinary attention to avoid potential loss of the eye.  Large ones are visible with the naked eye as dull spots or depressions on the corneal surface.  Smaller ones can be seen under a special light after staining by the Vet.  Corneal abrasions are scratches which usually will heal in a day or two if no foreign body is present in the eye. The eye should be carefully checked to ensure removal of any foreign body present. Failure to act quickly can result in an ulcer or inflammation of the cornea.

Cherry Eye -  This is created by an enlarged and prolapsed tear gland on the inner surface of the third eyelid, generally caused by infection.  It shows itself as a red, cherry-like growth protruding from the inner corner of the eye.  It usually occurs in puppies and young dogs.  It is more common among Bulldogs than some other breeds.  It is usually treated surgically.  This can be done by removal of the gland, with the need for only local anesthesia, or can be done by tacking the eyelid under general anesthesia.  The choice of procedures and alternatives should be discussed with your Vet.

Entropion and Ectropion  -  In the normal structure of the eye, the lid should be shaped like a globe.  It should not be rolled in or out.  The breed Standard makes these undesirable conditions for show dogs, so breeders trying to adhere to the standard will usually produce puppies with a lower incidence of these conditions.  Entropion is the condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation to the eye.  It is more common among Bulldogs than some other breeds.  If caused by a spasm or mechanical irritation, it can be corrected through medication.  If structural, the condition can be corrected by a simple operation.  Failure to correct the condition can lead to ulceration of the cornea and possible loss of sight.

Ectropion- is a condition where it is rolled out, resulting in the third eyelid (or haw) being visible.  This is more common in Bulldogs than in some other breeds.   Its presence is undesirable in a show dog and a potential health problem because of the ease which foreign matter can enter the eye.


There are several factors causing ear disease in dogs. The most annoying are those producing the itching, pawing and scratching. Below are listed some of the some conditions that may cause ear disease in dogs:

OTITIS-The classical ear infection indeed, otitis can be external and internal. Other than the classical head shaking and pawing, ear infections can be pretty painful and may progress to the the middle ear even leading to deafness should it go untreated. Fortunately, a course of antibiotics is all it takes to give the dog comfort in most cases.

LABIRINTITIS-This condition affects the inner ear, an area also responsible for a dog's balance. It can occur when otitis progresses to the inner ear. In such cases dogs develop dizziness, in-coordination, head tilt, twitching eyes and circling. Medications can be prescribed to give relief from the dizziness. The underlying cause needs addressed.

YEAST INFECTIONS -These may follow antibiotic treatments and typically cause a rancid odor, brown discharge, and very inflamed ears. Anti-fungal treatments will be necessary treatment wise. In mild cases a home remedy of water and vinegar may be helpful.
EAR MITES-While not really a disease, ear mites have the potentially of causing disease. These parasites live in the ear and can be detected thanks to the offensive odor emanated from an affected ear and thanks to the coffee ground discharge left behind. A course of Tresaderm may be prescribed to get rid of these annoying parasites that may cause otitis.

AURAL HEMATOMA-An aural hematoma is not a primary condition but it often results as a consequence from excessive head shaking and scratching. While the dog shakes it's head and scratches insistently, over time, the small blood vessels will bleed inside the ear and cause notorious swelling causing the ear flap to fill up with blood. Ears will swell up like balloons or marsh-mellows and upon touching them they may feel squishy and odd. What is even worse is that should an aural hematoma go untreated, a dog's ears may never go back to normal leaving the ears with very unsightly scarring and even permanent deformities.

FLY BITE DERMATITIS-Flies may insistently bite the dog's ears especially in those dog breeds characterized by erect ears. The ears of these dogs will appear with crusty brown-black edges. The dermatitis that develops can be prevented by keeping the door indoors or applying effective insect repellents.

ALLERGIES-Itching and pawing at the ears may be due to allergies. Allergies may be caused by just about anything, foods, dusts, pollens, chemicals etc. Finding the triggering allergen may be challenging, yet not impossible. If food allergies are suspected a trial diet may help pinpoint the offending food. Anti-histamines can bring relief and in worse cases corticosteroids and steroid shots may be necessary.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA-This form of cancer is worth mentioning due the increase of damaging ultra violet rays. White dogs are particularly vulnerable and the ears are often a targeted area due to their exposure to the sun rays and their thin skin. Your vet should prescribe sunscreen suitable for dogs to protect ears, muzzle and nose. Do not use human sun screen as some may be toxic for pets.

PREVENTION TIPS-Preventing ear disease in dogs takes some care. Should you bathe a dog, remember to insert cotton balls to prevent moisture from turning the ear into the ideal host for bacteria or mites. Floppy eared dogs need special care, make sure the ears are kept clean and dry and inspect routinely for fox tails, grass seeds or other foreign matter. If your dog is prone to ear infections and gets hair routinely plucked by the groomer consider that the hair near the ear once plucked causes serum to ooze out from the hair follicles creating the ideal environment for bacterial growth. Mats near the ear canal should be removed since they trap moisture inside.


Interdigital Cysts  --  Interdigital cysts are fluid filled, swollen sacs between the toes, usually on the front feet.  The area is sore and painful.  The dog will lick or bite at the area trying to break the cyst to relieve the pressure.  It can be treated in several ways.

First, you can use a tweezers to remove any ingrown hairs from the underside of the cyst.  Then apply pressure to the cyst to expel any fluid you can.  This will usually work quickly.  If it doesn't, try bathing the foot several times a day in an Epsom salt solution until the swelling bursts.  If the area is red and swollen, use a cold water solution; once the redness disappears, use a hot water solution.  An antibiotic ointment, like Panalog, placed between the toes helps to prevent infection once it bursts.  In severe cases, your Vet may need to inject a cortisone-related drug to reduce swelling or to cut the cyst to permit it to drain.
Cut Pads -  Be prepared; cut pads bleed profusely.  It usually looks worse than it is.  Be sure the wound is clean and no foreign object - glass, for example, is present.  Do not use peroxide on a fresh wound and do not wipe a wound which has stopped bleeding.  Both will make bleeding harder to control.  Once you are sure the wound is clean, apply firm and steady pressure on the pad until the bleeding stops.  This may take some time.  Then bandage the foot and get the dog to the Vet as quickly as possible . Cut pads will usually heal without a trace of the injury.

Ingrown toenails -  As discussed elsewhere, your dogs nails will need trimming unless it is very active and on a hard surface where it naturally wears down its nails.  If not trimmed frequently, the nails can grow and curve around into the skin of the feet, causing a painful condition.  By establishing a regular nail trimming schedule, you canavoid this problem entirely.

Musculoskeletal System

Osteochondritis  -  This disease affects rapidly growing puppies between the ages of four and 12 months.  This defect in the cartilage covering the head of the long bones usually affects the shoulder joints.  The signs are gradual lameness and pain upon flexing the joint.  Confinement to reduce potential strain on the cartilage and encourage healing is the preferred treatment.  Pain pills should be avoided since it encourages the dog to be more active.  In severe cases, surgery can remove the damaged cartilage.

Panosteitis  -  Panosteitis, also called "wandering lameness," occurs in puppies between five months and one year old.  The cause is unknown.  It exhibits itself by pain and lameness shifting from one location to another over time.  Since there is no known cause, treatment consists of pain relief.  Dogs tend to recover fully from mild cases on their own.  In severe cases, full muscle strength may never be regained.

Hips  -  Bulldogs are a dysplastic breed, compared to more athletic dogs.  The Bulldog Standard calls for the dog's movement to be ". . . peculiar, his gait being a loose-jointed, shuffling, sidewise motion, giving the characteristic "roll".  The action must be, however, be unrestrained, free and vigorous."  Bulldog hip sockets are shallower and the head of the femur does not fits as well in the socket on average as in most other breeds.  It is this looseness that contributes to the characteristic roll seen in the breed.  However, a healthy bulldog should not be a cripple.  As the standard requires, the dog should be able to move vigorously and freely with being restrained by the peculiarity of his construction.

Cruciate Ligament Problems  -  A cruciate ligament injury can occur in dogs for several reasons. Sometimes, it is simply the result of an athletic injury in a healthy dog. Landing “wrong” when running or jumping could cause this.  Overweight or obese dogs are more prone to this type if injury, since their extra weight may cause weakened joints.  Additionally, some dog breeds are predisposed to cruciate ligament injuries.  While cruciate rupture cannot always be prevented, keeping your dog at a healthy weight and providing plenty of exercise (not too strenuous) can minimize the risk.

Sudden lameness - in a rear leg is often the first sign of injury. If the injury remains unaddressed, arthritic changes can begin quite quickly, causing long-term lameness and discomfort. If your dog shows signs of pain or lameness, it is best to have your vet do an exam within a couple of days.
Your vet will perform an orthopedic examination, trying to isolate the pain to a specific area and ruling out injury to the foot, hock or hip. A manual examination or x-rays can usually define the cause of the limping.

While most dogs with cruciate injuries require surgery, a small number will improve with conservative treatment: several weeks of cage rest with short walks for elimination needs.  A knee brace or anti-inflammatory medication may be used.  If the injury is not severe cage rest may be sufficient.
Severe cruciate tears will require surgery for a complete repair. However, there are different surgical approaches, each with its pros and cons.  A variety of surgical approaches are possible.  Which is best for your dog should be discussed with your veterinarian.  Regardless of the surgery type, a post operative resting period of eight weeks or more is crucial to the healing process.  In addition, physical therapy may be recommended and can be extremely successful for long term recovery.

Patellar Dislocation  - A dislocated kneecap can occur through injury or be inherited.  Pain in the stifle, difficulty straightening the knee, and a limp are signs of this problem.  Conditions created by injury may heal themselves if the dog gets enough rest.  Inherited problems can be treated by surgery.

Vitamin Overdose  -  In an effort to encourage growth in a healthy puppy, some people feed vitamin supplements in addition to a fully balanced commercial dog food.  These dog foods supply all the nutrients your dog requires as long as your puppy eats well.  When you give your dog extra Vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus, his normal growth can be harmed.  Supplements may be needed for dogs who are poor eaters . Consult your Vet before giving your puppy supplements.

Urogenital System

Mono/Cryptorchidism  -  A cryptorchid is a fairly rare condition in which both testicles are absent.  A monorchid has only one fully descended testicle.  Usually the testicle is present, but not descended.  Occasionally hormones can cause the testicle to descend to a normal position.  Dogs who are cryptorchid are sterile and can't be bred; monorchid dogs can reproduce, but most people don't breed them since the trait can be passed on.   Many Vets recommend that these dogs be sterilized for health reasons, since the retained testicle may result in an increased risk of cancer.

Pyometria  -  Pyometria is a potentially life-threatening abscess of the uterus.  A vet should be seen immediately if you suspect this condition.  The infection may either drain from the uterus or collect there, causing painful enlargement.  A hysterectomy guarantees full recovery.  For a potential brood bitch, there is a course of treatment with prostaglandin, which can sometimes eliminate the infection.  Since, there is always the possibility of recurrence, the bitch should be bred on her next heat if a hysterectomy is not performed.