Warning: French Bulldog Skin Problems Can Be Kind of Icky
Right after the holidays a reader reached out to me about french bulldog skin problems. Her french bulldog was experiencing hives as a result of feeding her frenchie a specific brand of food. I was honored, first, to be considered by this reader, but I was then tasked with trying to make a viable food recommendation to this reader. I knew french bulldogs could experience a plethora of skin problems caused by allergic reactions to various ingredients in foods, outdoor plants and allergens, and other household environmental irritants. What I had never seen was a frenchie experiencing hives as a result of dry food or kibble. Typically, frenchie skin problems come from bacterial infections or environmental irritants. That said, you should know that what you feed your french bulldog can also be the source of allergic responses, including skin problems.
French bulldog skins problems can, of course, be caused by more than allergic reactions or bacterial infections. There’s always the occasional “hot spot” (acute moist dermatitis) experienced by all canines, especially short-haired breeds. Then there’s chronic dry skin, which is very common for french bulldogs in drier or cold climates or french bulldogs who are bathed too often. Then there’s plain ole dandruff, which you can fix by switching to a vet recommended shampoo and lotion. Then there are some french bulldogs who experience allergic dermatitis due to various irritants and household allergens. There’s seborrhea, the canine equivalent of seborrheic dermatitis prevalent in humans. There’s impetigo, which is very common in puppies and results in pus-filled blisters (gross, I know). Superficial bacterial folliculitis, which is an infection that can be easily spotted on a french bulldog’s skin because of their short hair, and is often treated with oral antibiotics. There’s ringworm, too, which is common in dogs and is often a part of a regular vaccination schedule.
French Bulldog Skin Problems: Treatment
The first step in treating your french bulldog is getting them to a veterinarian, especially if they’re developing crusty or scabby sores. If your french bulldog has multiple sores and skin lesions on their body then you need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. These can be very painful for your frenchie. Most french bulldog skin problems are a result of something growing on your frenchie’s skin that should not be there at all. This can be a few fleas biting your french bulldog or bacteria growing on your their skin. The force multiplier in clearing up your frenchie’s skin issue is to halt the growth of the source. Most veterinarians will use topical steroids and antibiotics to take care of most skin problems, but will sometimes also use something like Domeboro powders to relieve itching and dry out the inflamed/infected area. You will usually go home with a tube of ointment to apply to the area over the next several days.
Your veterinarian will scrape a small sample of the lesions/sores on your french bulldog and test them for the presence of specific bacterium. This is a simple test but the veterinarian may have to shave a small patch of your french bulldog’s fur to get better access to the lesion. Shaving the area also increases the efficacy of topical ointments and antibiotics. Do not attempt to do this yourself. A veterinarian will use a small trimmer made specifically for canine fur. Don’t be dumb.
Pictured to the left is a hot spot that developed on our Frenchie Auggie about a year ago. Hot spots (acute moist dermatitis) are very common in French Bulldogs because of their dense undercoats. Frenchies have the canine equivalent of seal fur. This is a blessing and a curse. Hot spots are usually caused by an allergic reaction to a specific antigen. They’re typically the result of flea bites or mites, but can also be caused by poor grooming and even hip dysplasia can lead to hot spots (degenerative arthritis). Note that while the name suggests an excess of moisture on your Frenchie’s skin is the cause of a hot spot, this simply is not the case. The bacterial infection causes excess moisture to develop around the affected area in the form of pus (gross, again, I know) secreting from the lesion.
As mentioned above, the vet decided to shave the area around the hot spot and then treat it with some topical antibiotics and steroids. The hot spot healed up and went away roughly a week later and we never saw another one on him! So, be sure to get to the vet as soon as you can. Your vet will provide an accurate and effective answer, and treatment for most skin issues in french bulldogs is usually very simple and fast.
French Bulldog Skin Problems: What We Use
We like to keep two products in our frenchie medical kit for the occasional patch of dry skin or problematic rash. DERMagic makes a product called Skin Rescue that’s great for treating minor bumps, rashes, and dry skin. It claims to effectively treat hot spots, but after the first hot spot we found on our cream Frenchie, we decided it was best to always let the vet get a sample of the lesion. Hot spots can develop into something much worse if the bacterium are not killed off.
The DERMagic product contains oils that help treat fungi, bacterium, and yeasts causing your french bulldog uncomfortable lesions. It also claims to reduce itching and chewing. It is steroid free but you should still try to keep your frenchie from ingesting any of the product. If you’re going to use it on your french bulldog’s paws, apply the product first, and then wrap the area with a bandage to prevent your frenchie from licking it.
The second product we really love is Warren London’s Hydrating Butter. It’s useful beyond it’s medicinal properties. This is just a great all around moisturizing for your frenchie. This stuff is amazing. It will soothe your french bulldog’s skin and make their coat soft and beautiful.
If your french bulldog commonly experiences minor skin problems like dander, dry or cracked skin, or rashes, we recommend you try to Hydrating Butter. It’s the closest thing to nourishing lotion for dogs. The product claims to provide 24 hour moisture for your frenchie’s coat and skin by using a humectant that releases moisturizers every couple of hours. From the Warren London Amazon product page:
Hydrating Butter from Warren London is a leave-in conditioner that is a non-oily intense hydrating treatment for silky smooth skin and coat. The extract used is a natural humectant that moisturizes and adds vital nutrients with a soothing scent. This is the only patented formula that releases moisturizing emollients every 2 hours for a 24 hour hydration.
We don’t use either of these products daily. We use them when we find dry spots or rough skin on our frenchies, which is not often. French bulldogs have really resilient skin. Still though, it’s nice to have around and our big fella Auggie certainly appreciates it.
French Bulldog Skin Problems from Food
Food causing your french bulldog to have skin problems is a totally different ballgame. If you’re feeding something to your french bulldog that’s initiating an allergic reaction or skin issue, then you need to do more than just see your veterinarian. You need to get a full spectrum blood analysis and allergy test. A comprehensive allergy test will be much more revealing. Unfortunately, food manufacturers cannot anticipate all the possible allergic reactions their foods may cause; this is true not only for dogs for humans, as well. Think of your frenchie as having something similar to a peanut allergy. It happens. We recommend the highest quality french bulldog foods known to man, but most frenchie foods are “one size fits all”. A french bulldog with an allergy to something specific is a special case that will warrant an appropriate food. Your veterinarian may send you to a specialist, but more than likely, they’ll be able to perform an allergy test on your frenchie and then recommend an appropriate food. Just be sure to get to the vet at the first sign of a reaction. A severe allergic reaction can be fatal.
The most common result of an allergy from foods appears to be hives, which are not dangerous, but uncomfortable for your frenchie. They get hot and itchy and cause your french bulldog discomfort. Of all french bulldog skin problems, I can only imagine hives are the most common, maybe closely followed by acute moist dermatitis (hot spots).
Keep your head up and give your frenchie the best care and attention that you can everything should turn out okay! Celeritas and aequitas.
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