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Learn : Dog Allergies

English Bulldogs with Skin Allergies

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The English Bulldog is a dependable, intelligent companion who bonds closely with her pet parents. Although they originated from fighting mastiffs brought by the Romans to the British Isles centuries ago, the modern day English Bulldog is known for her cheerful and docile nature. This breed is a perfect family dog who is courageous and faithful while calm and mature around children. Unfortunately, the English Bulldog is predisposed to developing skin allergies, some of which are genetic and environmental, and others that may result from food intolerances.

English Bulldog Coat Characteristics

Straight, with a smooth, short texture, the English Bulldog’s coat should be fine and glossy. The skin is loose and soft around the head, shoulders, and neck, while the head itself is covered with heavy wrinkles. A dewlap, two loose folds of skin at the throat, is also in evidence in this breed. This breed of Bulldog comes in a range of colors from red brindle to white to fawn, or a patchy combination thereof. An average shedder, the English Bulldog should be brushed weekly and her face wiped daily, especially within the wrinkles and folds of her skin where irritations may occur.

Skin Allergies in English Bulldogs

English Bulldogs are prone to skin allergies in particular because of their genetics and skin structure, although environmental conditions and food intolerances can also play a role. Excessive folding of the skin may lead to skin fold dermatitis, folliculitis, and muzzle acne. The areas between the skin folds and wrinkles on the English Bulldog can become irritated and itchy, leading to skin infections, particularly yeast infections (Malassezia dermatitis). In the skin folds or the ears, infections can cause itchiness, redness, and an accumulation of brown wax; on the skin itself, it leads to either flaky, scaly skin or oily, greasy skin.

Environmental conditions such as parasitic infections like demodex can also cause skin inflammations and allergies in the English Bulldog. Demodex is a microscopic mite that lives on dog hair follicles, and English Bulldogs tend to have an overabundance of these mites which can cause mange. Mild cases result in dry, itchy lesions and hair loss on the feet or face. Secondary infections can occur if the original condition is not treated. Other environmental allergens the English Bulldog may react to include grasses, pollens, molds, or other parasites like ticks and fleas. 

Skin allergies may also be related to food intolerances or allergies generally from a single protein source like beef or chicken. A food allergy can be challenging to diagnose in a dog as most allergen tests are inaccurate; as such, a food elimination test becomes the most accurate way to determine if a food allergy exists and figure out how to manage or eliminate it. 

The Connection Between Skin and Food Allergies

English Bulldogs are prone to developing cutaneous adverse food reaction (CAFR) and may have two different causes for food related-pruritus: food intolerance or food allergy. Often, the reactions to the inflammation caused by the allergy manifest themselves in various skin ailments such as redness; dry skin; flaky, scaly skin; hot spots; and lesions. These skin conditions are often accompanied by excessive itching, scratching, biting, rubbing, licking, and head shaking. Self-trauma and chronic inflammation can lead to secondary skin lesions like alopecia, seborrhea, and crusting. 

Typically, the source of food intolerances and allergies are animal proteins like chicken, beef, or pork. Other causes of food allergies are corn, eggs, and milk. Skin allergies due to a food allergy can also combine with gastrointestinal illnesses so food allergies can impact your English Bulldog in multiple ways. 

Common Allergy Locations 

Some of the primary locations for allergic inflammation in English Bulldogs are the paws, legs, face, ears, sides, stomach, and hind end. If your English Bulldog chews, bites, or scratches excessively at any of these areas, he is most likely reacting to an allergy. Additional allergy symptoms include hair loss, flaky skin, and dandruff in any of the previously mentioned areas.

The ears and eyes are two common locations for allergic inflammations to occur. Check for red, irritated, teary eyes and ears that are reddened and itchy. The ears must be carefully monitored to prevent painful infections that can damage hearing.

Treatment Options

For environmental and genetic allergies, there is a multitude of options to give your English Bulldog some relief from chronic itchiness. Sulfate-free, organic, hypoallergenic shampoo can help calm your dog’s irritated skin; additional ingredients like aloe vera and hydrocortisone are anti-inflammatories that also aid in reducing itchiness and inflamed skin. For hot spots and lesions, an organic spray or antihistamines and topical creams are other methods to use to manage your Bulldog’s allergies.

Food intolerances and allergies are difficult to diagnose, and once they are verified, they can be tricky to manage. Speak to a veterinarian, allergist, or board-certified veterinary nutritionist to see if a food allergy is the basis for your English Bulldog’s skin allergies and irritations. 

With the help of your dog’s medical team, you can find out if he has a food allergy and possibly the source as well. Through an elimination diet trial, the veterinarian can determine what animal proteins are the source of the allergy. Fresh food diets and single-ingredient diets are some of the best ways to diagnose food allergies. To try an elimination diet with your English Bulldog, follow these steps:

  1. Feed your English Bulldog a new, single-ingredient food for eight weeks. Give your dog this diet and this diet only during this trial to get the most accurate results.
  2. The elimination diet food should contain only single sources of animal protein, carbohydrate calories, and vegetable protein. Examples of these sources include fish and potato or rabbit and peas. It is fine if the diet is commercially produced or cooked. Keep foods with unidentified proteins or natural flavors away from your dog during the trial as they can influence the test results.
  3. For the eight weeks, do not feed your English Bulldog any treats, flavored medications, table food, or supplements. These ingredients can impact the elimination diet assessment.
  4. When the eight weeks have concluded, slowly switch your English Bulldog back to his regular food and watch for any allergies to reappear.

An additional means by which to strengthen your dog against allergies is probiotics for dogs. Probiotics are relatively inexpensive, and they work to build stronger digestive and immune systems as well as reducing the inflammation that causes allergic reactions. Recent studies show that probiotics are an excellent tool for managing canine allergies and improving the immune system.

Keys to Managing Skin Allergies

If you want to reduce or eliminate your English Bulldog’s skin allergies, switching him to a fresh food diet is the best option available. Wet and dry commercial foods are unable to offer the level of nutrition your dog needs at various stages of his growth. Fresh food has actual ingredients, essential fatty acids like Omega-6 and Omega-3, and healthy fats, many of which are found in blackcurrant oil, sunflower oil, and fish oil. Dogs need certain amounts of critically important minerals and vitamins for their health and wellbeing. Zinc, essential amino acids, and B-vitamin complexes are all in fresh food, and each of these components works to calm inflammatory reactions to allergens.

Here are some dietary suggestions that offer potential solutions to your English Bulldog’s allergies:


Dietary Needs and Adjustments

Coat Color Changes

Increase amino acids which can be found in  protein (>75 grams per 1000 calories); use our calculator to convert a label percentage to the caloric basis (grams per 1000 calories)

Concurrent GI Signs

Avoid foods with tryptamine and histamine, such as dairy or fermented vegetables and meats (yes, this includes bacon); try a simple ingredient food trial

Chronic Itching and Dermatitis

Fortify the diet with Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Zinc, omega-6 and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil; add a probiotic; try a simple ingredient food trial

Dull Coat and Scaling

Adjust EPA and DHA levels in the diet (added fish oil being the most common way); try a food that has added zinc

Dandruff and Crustiness

Add Zinc and Vitamin A levels

How Fresh Food Helps

Fresh food combines well-preserved fats, real ingredients, the right mixture of antioxidants, all of which together can reduce or eliminate a dog’s allergies. While commercial dry kibble is often fed to dogs because it is inexpensive and has a long shelf life, this food fails to provide the full array of vitamins and nutrients your English Bulldog needs to stay healthy and happy. Fresh food diets are full of nutrition which, unlike dry kibble, is not lost in the heating or cooking processes. There are no fillers or artificial ingredients in fresh food, only nutritious, natural goodness that won’t cause your dog to itch and scratch.

Fatty acids and minerals are important components of fresh food diets. Both elements will keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, shiny, and allergy-free; they will also reduce inflammation that occurs because of allergic reactions and improve the immune system.

About Nom Nom

Your English Bulldog deserves a fresh, specialized diet to manage and prevent skin allergies related to food allergies. Here at Nom Nom, we make perfectly-portioned, custom made fresh food diets with your dog’s overall health and wellbeing in mind. Fresh and tasty, our batches of fresh food will surely satisfy even the pickiest of English Bulldogs.

Every serving of our fresh food includes the Nutrient Mix. This mix contains essential minerals and vitamins that each dog needs to control and end allergic reactions. The Nutrient Mix includes Vitamins E and A for the skin and coat, and zinc, magnesium, and selenium for additional support for the immune system. Nom Nom’s fresh diets are crafted to satisfy your dog’s craving for real food and to provide him with the nutrition he needs to be allergy-free. 

  1. Pedersen, N., Pooch, A., Liu, H. A genetic assessment of the English bulldog. Canine Genetics and Epidemiology. 3 (6), (2016).
  2. Caswell, J., Yager, J., Parker, W., Moore, P. A Prospective Study of the Immunophenotype and Temporal Changes in the Histologic Lesions of Canine Demodicosis. Vet Pathol. 34, 279 - 287 (1997). 
  3. Hensel, P., Santoro, D., Favrot, C., Hill, P., Griffin, C. Canine atopic dermatitis: detailed guidelines for diagnosis and allergen identification. BMC Vet Res. 11 (196), (2015).

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