French Bulldogs are not outside dogs. They are susceptible to heat and cold. High temperatures are especially dangerous as it can cause overheating and possibly death. If you suspect that your dog is overheating, it is an emergency. Go to a vet immediately.
Bulldogs should never be encouraged to jump up or down from couches, beds, etc. Bulldogs carry all of their weight in their front end, so when they jump down they can potentially injure their neck, spine and shoulders. Purchase steps that they can use to get on couches, beds, etc.
A lot of bulldogs love water but unfortunately most bulldogs cannot swim. Bulldogs do have the natural instinct to paddle in the water like all other dogs. Despite this and due to being so heavy in the chest/head area, most of them sink when in deep water. If you are going to be engaging in water activities in deep water, please purchase a life jacket for your bulldog. In the summer, bulldogs love to play in kiddie pools.
Brushing is a very important part in the care of your dog. Many people believe that short haired dogs do not need to be brushed but that is not the case. Brushing your dog removes dirt, dust, soil, and dead hair. It is recommended to brush your bulldog with a soft bristled brush a couple of times a week.
It is important to get your dog used to having a bath. Avoid bathing your dog too much as this can dry the skin out. A bath once every couple of months is plenty. Find a good quality shampoo made specifically for dogs. Washing under the tail is essential. Fecal matter can get trapped underneath and may make the skin sore. Baby wipes can also be used in between baths to remove fecal matter.
Because of the structure of the face, special attention must be taken. The folds of skin on the face must be cleaned at least two to three times a week...sometimes daily depending on the dog. It is possible that an infection can occur between the folds if dirt filled with bacteria linger. Washing with dog soap and water on a cotton ball will do. You can also use baby wipes. Be sure to dry the folds when done, so that moisture does not get trapped. If the skin appears irritated, apply Wrinkle Balm made by the Natural Dog Company. This works great! You can also use some medicated powder. If your bulldog has a white face, tear stains may become a problem. There are several tear stain cleaners on the market. There are also supplemental powders that you mix with food that remove stains.
Clean your dog's ears as needed. Use cotton balls with ear flush to clean the inside of the ear. Never use soap and water. Only use Q tips in areas that you can see.
Occasionally your dog's nose may become a little dry, especially during the winter. To prevent this, rub a little Vaseline on his/her nose.
Clean and check your dog's paws once a week or so. Make sure there is nothing lodged in the paw. If your dog licks and chews his/her paws constantly, it may be a sign of allergies. Clip nails as needed. Some dogs don't need it as often as others. If you don't feel comfortable clipping nails, take your dog to a vet or groomer.
Check your dog's teeth once a week. If you would like, you can brush his/her teeth. They make doggie toothpaste that is flavored. You may also give your dog dental chews to remove tartar.
De-worming and Vaccinating
It is important to de-worm and vaccinate your dog. The basic vaccines your dog should have are: Distemper/Parvo/Adenovirus/Leptospirosis Vaccine and a Rabies Vaccine. There are other vaccines that exist that should only be given IF needed.
Fleas and Ticks
It is important to keep fleas and ticks off of your dog. There are so many good flea/tick preventatives out there. Do your research and find one that you are comfortable using. We have been using Advantix for years with no problems. Please be aware that chewable flea/tick prevention tablets and collars (including Seresto) have been known to cause neurological and gastrointestinal issues in some dogs. Recently, the FDA has issued warnings when using Bravecto, Nexgard, Credelio and Simparica. Isoxazoline products have been associated with neurologic adverse reactions, including muscle tremors, ataxia and seizures in some dogs and cats. Sometimes these reactions have resulted in death. Please use with caution!!
Heartworms are deadly and expensive to get rid of once a dog is infected. In this area of Virginia, we do not see many cases of Heartworms but you can never be sure. It is cheaper to prevent them than to treat them. We use Iverheart Max. Heartworm prevention not only keeps your dog from getting Heartworms but it also de-worms them each month.
Although most good foods contain nutrients that dogs need, supplements are still essential. We suggest a skin/coat supplement (Omega Fatty Acids). We also give our dogs Bene-Bac Plus probiotic powder. It has been doing wonders for firming up stools and keeping our dogs healthy.
Food is also a very important aspect of having a healthy Bulldog. When your bulldog is a puppy, feeding a very good food is essential. During this growth period, using a food with good ingredients is recommended. Nutrient rich carbohydrates (certain grains) and DHA are recommended for growing puppies. As your puppy reaches maturity (8 to 10 months of age), you can start to slowly transition to a very good adult food with high-quality protein sources. Please do not buy foods or treats with dyes in them for your dog. The number one cause of allergies in bulldogs is giving the wrong kind of food. If you are using a good quality food and still having allergy problems, try switching to a novel protein source. For example, if you are feeding Chicken switch to Salmon, Bison, Duck, etc. Believe it or not, the two proteins pets are most allergic to are chicken and beef. If you still have issues after trying different protein sources, you can try Grain-Free food. We do not recommend Grain-Free unless your dog really needs it. Over the years, we have used many brands of dog food. We continue to come back to our tried and true favorite for the puppies, which is Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy. This puppy food has a very high rating and is an excellent choice of food for growing puppies. For our adult dogs, we alternate between Purina Pro Plan and Diamond Naturals. They are both good grain-inclusive foods. There are MANY other great foods out there, so please do your research.
As of June 28, 2019 the FDA has come out with a list of 16 dog foods that could be linked to DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) and heart failure. DCM is usually seen in large or giant breed dogs but can occasionally be seen in smaller dogs. The list of foods includes: Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature's Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature's Variety, NutriSource, Nutro and Rachael Ray Nutrish. Most vets and dog food specialists no longer recommend Grain-Free diets unless the dog really needs to be on it. Grain-Free foods can contain a high concentration of peas, lentils, legume seeds and/or potatoes that can possibly be linked to a dog developing DCM. There are some Grain-Free foods that do not contain these ingredients OR contain a small amount. It is important to mention that those foods are not linked to heart problems. Only the above list has been linked so far.
See the following website for ratings on all dog food: dogfoodadvisor.com
Bulldogs have sensitive stomachs and can occasionally have diarrhea. When this occurs, do not feed them their regular food. Switch over to cooked chicken and rice for 2 to 3 days. The diarrhea should clear up in a few days. You may also use Kaopectate. The usual dosage is a teaspoon per 5 pounds every 8 hours. If it does not clear up in a few days, go to your vet. If you don't like a dog that has occasional gas, then a Bulldog is not the right dog for you. Some have worse gas than others. Sometimes switching to a different kind of food does the trick and causes them to have less gas. Canned food can also give them horrible gas.
Occasionally something will irritate your dog’s nose and cause the dog to reverse sneeze. This can look very serious but it is not. It looks like the dog is gasping for breath and they make a horrible honking noise. If you massage their throat, they will usually stop. Anything can be an irritant to your dogs nose, even something as simple as switching laundry detergents. So, if your dog starts to do this, try to figure out if anything has changed in the environment.
Sneezing and Sniffling
Bulldogs are notorious for sneezing and sniffling due to their facial structure. Their short noses causes everything they smell and breathe to travel directly into their sinuses at a much faster rate. You may even find that your bulldog sneezes and sniffles more in the morning, especially when it is cold outside. Do not be alarmed if you see this happen, 90% of the time, it is nothing. If you see a clear to whitish nasal discharge, it is normal. If you see a yellow or green discharge, it may be time to see your vet.
Bulldogs are known for the occasional skin issue. Sometimes it can be an allergy or a simple skin infection. Don’t let it get too bad before going to have it checked out. Sometimes a simple skin infection can turn into a lot more if left untreated.
Bulldogs snort, snuffle, snore, sneeze, etc. It is important to remember that bulldogs do not have much of a nasal passage. When your bulldog gets a cold or is stuffy, it is an emergency. Bulldogs have a naturally small trachea and breathing passage, so when they get stuffy it can turn deadly quickly.
Please seek out a vet that has experience with Bulldogs. This breed is hard to anesthetize. Unfortunately, some vets may suggest unnecessary surgeries that your bulldog does not need. If some type of surgery is ever recommended, please get a second opinion. Sometimes it pays to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at something. Anesthetizing bulldogs is a BIG deal, so do not do it unless absolutely necessary.
Frenchies are known for their fun loving character and make excellent family dogs. Many people describe them as clowns. With all of that being said, please remember that this is in fact a bully breed. If they are not taught manners and allowed to rule the house, they can become little monsters. Make sure that they understand the hierarchy of the household. They can be stubborn when it comes to house training and training in general. Puppy classes are recommended, so they get used to being around other dogs and people. Socialization is very important. It is also important to play with their feet and ears, so it is not a big deal when they need to have their nails clipped and ears cleaned. Start training and socialization at an early age and you will have a well-adjusted bulldog.
If at any time you have a question about your bulldog, please do not hesitate to contact me.