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French Bulldogs with Skin Allergies


The French Bulldog may not be the most aesthetic dog breed, but it is undoubtedly one of the most popular. The companionship Frenchies bring to their pet parents’ daily lives is beyond compare. Small but substantial in stature, this breed is independent yet easygoing and relaxed. Frenchies love to lavish their pet parents with all the love and attention they can give, and with their cute, playful personalities, it’s no wonder they are one of the most loved breeds in the world. However, your French Bulldog’s happy-go-lucky, breezy attitude can quickly sour if she is struggling with skin allergies, a medical condition that this breed is prone to developing. 

French Bulldog Coat Characteristics

The Frenchie’s coat is smooth, short, and fine with loose skin that wrinkles up, especially around the head and shoulders. The fur has a soft texture and is shiny. French Bulldogs run a wide range of fur colors; in fact, Frenchies can be any mixture of colors or patterns except for liver, solid black, light gray, or black and white and tan. 

Reasonably easy to groom, the French Bulldog’s coat is manageable with proper care, generally a light brushing once a week. Frenchies are average shedders, but a gentle brush can easily remove any loose or dead hairs. The French Bulldog’s body type makes it easy for a pet parent to check for signs of skin allergies, including lesions, hot spots, scabs, bare spots, or dry, flaky, scaly skin.

Skin Allergies in French Bulldogs

Allergies are a common dilemma for French Bulldogs; this breed has one of the highest genetic and environmental predispositions to developing canine atopic dermatitis (CAD).Contact and chemical (environmental) factors, as well as genetic and food-based allergies, can quickly make life uncomfortable for a dog. Environmental allergies are often prompted by exposure to pollens, molds, and grasses, or parasitic sources like mosquitos, ticks, and fleas. Regardless of the cause of the reaction, if the ensuing symptoms are not treated, secondary infections can set in. French Bulldogs have a higher likelihood of developing infections from bacterial folliculitis or Malassezia dermatitis if their skin conditions are not addressed. 

Food-related intolerances or allergies take more time and testing to diagnose. Your dog’s diet will need to be evaluated and adjusted accordingly if a food allergy is the cause of your Frenchie’s skin problems.

Common Skin Allergy Locations 

Allergic reactions can take place over wide areas of the French Bulldog’s body. Frenchies are susceptible to developing hives, especially in connection with food-based allergies. Dry, flaky skin may occur in patches on the body, while hot spots, lesions, scabby and crusty sores may be found on the legs, paws, face, sides, and hind end. If your Frenchie is scratching, chewing, or biting at these areas excessively, she likely has an allergy. 

Other possible locations for pruritus include above the tail and on the groin and stomach. Inflammation in the ears and eyes can also signal an allergic reaction. Check your Frenchie’s ears carefully for signs of allergies or infections; without treatment, the ears can become painful and may lead to hearing loss. 

The Connection Between Skin and Food Allergies

The French Bulldog is prone to food allergies, and the inflammatory reactions often manifest themselves on the skin. Those skin conditions can include dermatitis, crusting lesions, hives, and pruritus. Typically, the main source of food allergies is intolerances toward one or more animal proteins. Often, meat and chicken are the primary culprits, although some dogs will have reactions to other allergens such as corn, milk, and eggs. Frequently, dermatological symptoms to allergies go hand in hand with gastrointestinal symptoms so your Frenchie’s allergies may be more than skin deep.

Treatment Options

Quick relief for genetic and environmental allergies can be found in a multitude of areas. Bathing our French Bulldog only when necessary and using an organic, sulfate-free, hypoallergenic shampoo may help control and reduce chronic itchiness. Look for shampoos that have additional anti-inflammatories such as hydrocortisone and aloe vera as these ingredients also calm red, inflamed, itchy skin. French Bulldogs often get lesions and hot spots, and you can help your Frenchie out by applying an organic hot spot spray or giving her antihistamines to manage those allergic reactions. 

It’s tougher to diagnose food allergies, and even when they are identified, they can prove difficult to eliminate. Talk to your veterinarian, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, or an allergist to find out if your French Bulldog might have food allergies as the cause of his skin concerns. Your Frenchie’s veterinarian and specialists can help you develop a diet that will best serve your dog. A simple way to begin looking for food allergies is to place your dog on an elimination diet trial. This process will allow the veterinarian to identify which protein sources are causing your dog such discomfort. Fresh food diets with real ingredients are an ideal way to identify and solve your Frenchie’s food allergies. You can start an elimination trial diet with your dog by following these steps:

  1. Start by feeding your French Bulldog a new, single-ingredient food over the course of eight weeks. Make sure this new food is the only one your dog eats during this trial to get the best results.
  2. The new food needs to contain only single sources of animal protein, vegetable protein, and carbohydrate calories. Some examples of this kind of food are rabbit and peas and fish and potato. The diet can be cooked or commercially produced, but the food should not have natural flavors or unidentified proteins as those ingredients can skew the elimination trial results.
  3. During the eight week trial, do not give your French Bulldog treats, table food, supplements, or flavored medications. These ingredients could influence the elimination diet results.
  4. After eight weeks, carefully and slowly switch your Frenchie back to his regular food. Observe him over the next few weeks to see if his allergies reappear. 

Probiotics for dogs are an additional, inexpensive way to help your dog fight allergies. This supplement reduces the inflammation that results in allergic reactions while also supporting and strengthening a dog’s immune and digestive systems. Research shows that probiotics can be an effective supplement to manage and reduce canine allergies.

Keys to Managing Skin Allergies

Switching your French Bulldog to a fresh food diet is the best way to reduce or eliminate his allergies. Although commercial dry kibble and wet foods are attractive because of their lower prices and shelf life, these foods are not always full of the quality nutrition your dog needs at any life stage. The heating process that occurs when kibble is cooked often ruins any wholesome ingredients within the food. Alternately, fresh food has nothing but real ingredients, including ones vital to your dog’s health: healthy fats and essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6). These healthy fats and fatty acids are found in sunflower oil and fish oil. Your Frenchie needs certain amounts of vitamins and minerals in his diet for his health and wellbeing. B-vitamin complexes, zinc, and essential amino acids can all be found in fresh food, and all of these components work to reduce allergic reactions.

The chart below offers some dietary advice to address your French 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 the 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

With the right mixture of well-preserved fats, visible ingredients, and antioxidants, a fresh food diet can save your dog from the discomfort of skin allergies caused by food intolerances. Unlike commercial dry kibble and wet food, fresh food diets are full of nutritious goodness without any additional artificial ingredients or fillers. Quality nutrition will not cause your dog to experience allergic reactions.

Minerals and fatty acids are vital parts of a fresh food diet. These ingredients will keep your French Bulldog’s coat and skin healthy, smooth, and allergy-free. Inflammatory responses to allergens are reduced, and the immune system strengthened by these ingredients.

About Nom Nom

A customized fresh food diet is exactly what your French Bulldog needs to prevent, manage, and reduce food and skin allergies. At Nom Nom, we create a diet that is best for your dog, keeping his health and wellness always in mind. Your Frenchie will love the taste of real, fresh food, and he will enjoy living allergy-free even more.

Each serving of Nom Nom’s fresh food includes the Nutrient Mix. Composed of the essential vitamins and minerals that each dog needs for health and to fight allergies, the Nutrient Mix gives an extra nutritional boost to your dog’s meal. Vitamins A and E for coat and skin health and selenium, zinc, and magnesium are included in the Nutrient Mix. With a Nom Nom fresh food diet, your French Bulldog will be a satisfied and itch-free dog.

  1. Anturaniemi, J., Uusitalo, L., Hielm-Bjorkman, A. Environmental and phenotype-related risk factors for owner-reported allergic/atopic skin symptoms and for canine atopic dermatitis verified by veterinarian in a Finnish dog population. PLOS ONE., (2017).
  2. Pocta, S., Svoboda, M. Approach to the Diagnostics of Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs in Conditions of Clinical Practice. ACTA VET. BRNO. 76, 461 - 468 (2007). 
  3. Rostaher, A., Hofer-Inteeworn, N., Kummerle-Fraune, C., Fischer, N., Favrot, C. Triggers, risk factors and clinico-pathological features of urticaria in dogs – a prospective observational study of 24 cases. 8th World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology. DOI: 10.1111/vde.12342, (2016).

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