Bulldogs, who, despite their bulky and somewhat imposing appearance, are real sweethearts, unfortunately do suffer from a number of health issues influenced by a good number of factors. But can anything be done about problems like Bulldog hip dysplasia and the like.
While Bulldog hip dysplasia is one of the most common health issues, there are plenty of others which are still of great concern for the muscleman canine, some easier to treat, some not so much.
Anything from guaranteed things like brachycephaly to things that are less likely, but that Bulldogs are more prone to contracting, be it cherry eye, arthritis or increased risk of certain forms of cancer, it’s all quite possible.
A lot of these are often influenced by a variety of factors, primarily the dog’s diet, levels of exercise and his genetics.
To find out more about the more common health problems that can plague your precious bully boy, what influences the likelihood, as well as potential treatment options, be sure to read on.
Bulldog Hip Dysplasia And 7 Other Common Health Issues
Bulldogs aren’t exactly the healthiest of the bunch, sporting an average lifespan of a mere 8-10 years of age.
This is due to the numerous different problems that they can be affected with, often multiple of them at any given time too.
Here are some of the most common ones:
One of the most common issues bulldogs are prone to due to being classified as a large breed dog and having a lot of meat on their bones to boot.
For, you see, hip dysplasia is what happens when the hip joint gets too worn and doesn’t really fit all that well into the socket anymore, often causing growing discomfort in the doggo.
In more severe cases, it can even pop out, and putting it back in is no longer a possibility given the wear the joint has suffered.
But why the Bulldog specifically? Well, because of their inherent mass and stubbier body which puts more strain on the joints themselves when moving around.
Obesity plays a big part in the chances of hip dysplasia occurring too which can be an easy problem to slip into if you’re not watching your dog’s weight carefully.
It’s better to be safe than sorry in this particular case as the best method of prevention is to help your bully watch his weight and provide him with adequate physical exercise to keep said weight in check.
Another major issue that Bulldogs tend to face is brachycephaly, or the flat face syndrome that plagues them due to the breeding standards imposed on them by the various dog societies and kennel clubs world wide.
While it may be considered the standard at present, it doesn’t serve any benefit to the dog in question as it only causes them severe breathing problems which can lead to further complications down the line.
Their upper respiratory tract is obstructed and leads to difficulties in breathing. It’s also responsible for the dog’s relatively low levels of stamina and increased risk of heart failure.
Unfortunately, there’s very little any of us can do at present aside from potential surgical procedures if the dog’s vet deems it a beneficial option.
That said, there is some good news as a few of the societies responsible for breeding Bulldogs are trying to change the standard back to regular faced bulldogs in hopes of ridding them of their biggest health detriment.
Given the numerous wrinkles on the Bulldog’s body, the creases in between are breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria.
The friction that occurs between them also doesn’t help that case either and you’re quite likely to see your precious pupper suffering from a nasty rash or a particular skin infection even if you groom and clean him properly.
Thankfully, none of these issues are overly serious or fatal, only minor annoyances which are easily treatable through topical ointments or medicated shampoos meant to exterminate the bacteria and revitalize the skin.
A good preventative measure is keeping your dog on a diet that’s rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to improve skin quality, and using a shampoo with Aloe Vera as one of the main ingredients.
That said, it’s best to consult with your pet’s veterinarian on what the correct procedure is as different skin infections require different forms of treatment.
Cataracts are another problematic, but non fatal and easily treatable issue that your Bully may contract.
It’s a progressive clouding of the lens that will have your dog gradually lose sight in the affected eye.
The ones that aren’t a symptom of an underlying health problem are easily removed through a routine surgical procedure, while those that are should recede during treatment of said health problem.
Most of the time when it’s the latter though, it tends to be a symptom of diabetes which is a lifelong condition, so the cataracts may return, even if you end up removing it the first time.
The most important thing to note is that the earlier the cataract is spotted, the less likely it is to cause any form of permanent damage to the eye, so make sure to give your doggo a check-up regularly.
If he seems like he has some form of irritation around the eye, then it may be time for a visit to the vet.
Another eye related issue that often affects Bulldogs is cherry eye, or an inflammation and subsequent prolapse of the third eyelid.
It’s quite easy to spot as it’ll appear as an inflamed red bulge on the side of your dog’s eye and will cause him a great deal of discomfort, but, once again, it’s not that dangerous as it is annoying.
And, it’s fully treatable through a simple surgical procedure that replaces the third eyelid.
While the condition may return shortly after, follow-up surgery ought to remedy the problem fully.
Do keep in mind that if one eyelid goes, the other one will in time, so be prepared if it does happen so you can act quickly and rid your precious pooch of this annoying health issue.
Allergies can appear in every dog, and the Bulldog is no exception.
They vary in severity, but thankfully, once spotted, are relatively easy to avoid from causing your dog further trouble by altering his diet.
Given the weight of the Bulldog, their cartilage is often prone to wearing out completely to the point where, in some areas, it’s completely gone so the bones have nothing cushioning the movement between them.
This leads to strong pain and discomfort which we recognize as arthritis.
An easy way to spot this is noting a lack of mobility in your pooch or him seeming severely less dexterous than before.
And canine arthritis can happen in any joint, but the most common cases relate to the ones that are under the most stress like the hip and elbow joints or other areas on their limbs like wrists and knees.
On top of the already mentioned symptoms, you may notice your dog being more irritable, having moments of incontinence and a light “fear” of doing anything remotely physically challenging aside from brief walking periods.
And, much like with hip dysplasia, the best method of prevention is watching the dog’s weight throughout his life to help delay arthritis and minimize the chances of it appearing overall.
There are joint protection supplements that can be taken too, but I’d suggest talking to your dog’s vet about it first before making any rash decisions.
Other Likely Issues
To keep the rest of it brief, due to their genetic structure, Bulldogs also suffer from a higher likelihood of heart failure and cancer, bone cancer in particular.
Both aren’t exactly curable with current medical knowledge, but, if spotted early, can hopefully be treated to achieve a more positive outcome and allow your doggo to live for the full 10 years, or as close to it as possible.
Aside from those, there are also some standard problems that can affect any canine equally and those are Bloat and parasitic infections.
The former happens when the stomach twists on itself due to an awkward retraction of the stomach after distending a bit too much and needs to be acted on quickly and reversed at the vet to not risk any permanent damage.
The latter can cause severe malnutrition and problems in growth if one such parasite finds its way into your pooch’s digestive tract and is allowed to siphon nutrients out of his food.
That one too is best fixed early and, thankfully, it’s an easy and routine procedure to do so.
What Affects The Likelihood Of Contracting Specific Health Issues?
The things that increase or decrease the chances of a specific health issue happening are about the same as the ones responsible for a dog’s healthy growth and development.
There are plenty of small factors, but the 3 biggest ones are:
1. His Genetics
Genetics are one thing that we can’t influence yet, but they’re definitely the root cause of all problematic health problems as they’ll dictate the quality and efficiency of your dog’s entire body.
They can be positive or negative, but in the Bully’s case, it’s primarily negative, though how negative they are depends on the luck of the draw.
2. His Diet
Like it or not, obesity and malnutrition are the leading causes of numerous health issues in dogs and keeping your dog on a healthy and balanced diet will provide him with the calories and the nutrients needed to keep himself nice and healthy and help avoid the two problems.
3. His Levels Of Exercise
Given their brachycephalic nature, the Bulldog doesn’t need too much exercise, only about an hour of light to moderate exertion while keeping a close eye on him in case of potential breathing problems.
This will help keep his body in shape and less prone to contracting problematic diseases or suffering from specific health issues.
Bulldog hip dysplasia and various other health problems may seem like they’re quite common and crippling for a Bully, but the truth is that they’re still relatively rare, most of them at least.
As long as you can keep your dog physically active and on a proper diet while keeping him at a healthy weight, he should be able to live out his life worry free.
And, most of the Bulldog specific health issues are easily treatable, just make sure to remain vigilant and spot them early so they don’t develop into anything more serious.
Until next time, pet parents.