Flea Remedies

Fighting Off Fleas?

My dog had fleas. He had a flea bath and now has a flea collar, but the fleas are still in the house and have decided that I’m breakfast, lunch and dinner. How can I get rid of them without setting off a chemical “bomb”?

Answer (Published 2/21/2006)

The first thing I would recommend is vacuuming. This will remove many of the flea eggs, larvae and insecticide – resistant pupae developing in your rugs, furniture and other surfaces. Concentrate on areas where your dog spends most of his time indoors but don’t forget hardwood and tile floors, and definitely use a good quality vacuum cleaner.

If you haven’t already, thoroughly wash any cushions in your dog’s bed (or have them dry cleaned). You might want to throw away old pet bedding and get a new dog bed after you’ve eliminated the fleas from the house. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in a plastic garbage bag and throw it away outside. (You’ll have to vacuum frequently until the fleas are gone, and be vigilant about disposing the bag after each vacuuming.)

If you want to eliminate the fleas with natural products, try pyrethrins, the active insecticidal ingredients found in chrysanthemum flowers. These will kill the fleas and then degrade rapidly in the environment. They’re relatively nontoxic to humans (although they can aggravate asthma). You’ll need to use them or other treatments more than once in order to eliminate more than one generation of fleas. You also might try growth regulators such as fenoxycarb, which mimic flea hormones and prevent the young larvae from becoming adult fleas. In addition, natural enzymes such as those in “Flea ‘n Tick B Gone” can cause a mechanical disruption of the flea’s shells.

Another natural option is neem, a powerful and relatively safe insecticide obtained from a tree in India. To rid your household of fleas you also can use diatomaceous earth – the fossilized skeletons of one-celled sea algae often used by organic farmers to kill insects. Try sprinkling it on carpets, furniture and areas where fleas tend to hide. Its sharp crystals puncture insect bodies but are harmless to mammals.

Whichever product you use, follow the instructions on the package but be thorough and treat all carpets and throw rugs, including those under beds and in closets. Even with powerful chemical insecticides, you’ll probably see some fleas for two weeks or longer after spraying. Repeat the treatment if fleas aren’t gone within four weeks.

These measures usually work. If not, I’m afraid you’ll have to resort to a chemical “bomb.” Be sure that you, your family members and pets stay out of the house during the application of the insecticide and afterward until the substance dries. No matter what kind of pesticide you use to rid your house of fleas, be sure to vacuum repeatedly (and carefully throw away the bags) until you see (and feel) no signs of fleas and are sure that they’re gone.

Andrew Weil, M.D.


Food Allergies in Dogs

this article about food allergies in dogs is from my book “Healing Your Dog With Food” that is one of the bonuses in my Bulldog Health System:

Food allergies are often an area of blame in many dogs showing allergic reactions, but in actuality, only a small percentage of dogs suffering from allergies are actually food reactions.  That said, I know about food allergies first hand because my Bulldog Archie is allergic to chicken which is the primary meat protein in most commercial dog food.

After several visits to my vet dermatologist who put Archie on an expensive “hypoallergenic” soy based diet for food allergies.  Unfortunately the soy diet made his skin really ratty looking and didn’t solve the diarrhea problem.

So I decided to stop the soy experiment and try my own food trials. I noticed that every time I fed Archie a commercial diet with chicken he got diarrhea and itchy ratty looking skin.  I no longer feed him chicken and he’s doing great.

If your vet has performed skin scrapings and ruled out parasites and fungus infections, you can perform simple dietary changes and see if your dog gets better.

Food allergies are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can vary, including:

  • Diarrhea or soft stools
  • Severe itching
  • Small sores with hair loss (not to be confused with mites)
  • Secondary lesions from the itching
  • Vomiting
  • Colic
  • Seizures, in severe cases

Hypersensitivity reactions tend to occur because the dog is reacting to one or two ingredients in the diet.  These reactions tend to slowly occur over time because the dog is eating the same diet for several months, or even years, at a time.  As the dog eats more of these allergens, they build up in the body until outward reactions begin to occur.  Additionally, those dogs that experience seizures often do so because they are reacting to an allergen in their diet.  Because of this, dogs that eat raw or minimally processed foods tend to not have food allergies and symptoms such as severe itching, skin lesions and seizures.

Although most skin allergies do not appear until the dog is one year old or older, food allergies tend to become apparent much earlier than this.  Many dogs that are 6 months old or younger will begin to shows signs, but the majority of the cases diagnosed are in dogs over two years of age.

One reason that food allergies become apparent in young dogs is because their system is shocked by the dog food they are eating and they tend to have more intestinal parasites and viruses than older dogs.  Parasites cause intestinal damage and this can cause a defective antibody response in the body.  The antibody response allows for the body to allow food allergies to develop.

The only reason that dogs, and people for that matter, don’t develop a host of food allergies is due to something called “oral tolerance.”  This is the body’s ability to ignore the foreign proteins that are found in the body.  Otherwise, anything we ate we would become allergic to.  This oral tolerance is believed to begin in dogs at about 6 weeks, which happens to correspond when most dogs are weaned.  One way to assist puppies and prevent food allergies may be to wait until about 8 to 10 weeks to wean.  This will also prevent other behavioral issues and the dog will be well prepared to begin a new diet at this time as well.

Unfortunately, the most common food items that dogs happen to be allergic to are the most common ingredients in all diets, whether commercially prepared or homemade.  These foods include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Fish

Many people believe that foods like lamb and venison are hypoallergenic proteins, but this is not the case.  An animal can develop a food allergy to any type of food they are fed over an extended period of time.

Commercial prepared foods are often made with large amounts of grains because it is an inexpensive source of energy.  However, these contain large amounts of carbs and gluten, which are two other ingredients that pets often develop an allergy to.  For young dogs, you can actually improve their oral tolerance by limiting the amount of gluten and carbohydrates they ingest.

In diagnosing food allergies, you will need to feed your dog a Hypoallergenic Diet.  This is the only way that you will be able to tell for sure that the dog has a food allergy.  This diet takes about 3 to 12 weeks to complete.  The purpose of this diet is to isolate the allergen in the food by banning all protein that the dog has eaten in the past.


The Hypoallergenic Diet

The use of this diet is designed to ban all protein that the dog has eaten in the past in an effort to determine which protein or other ingredient may be causing the allergic reaction.  The diet will last about 8 to 12 weeks depending on the ingredients that need to be tested.  Dogs that have food allergies will show a decrease in itching, and in some cases, the itching will stop all together.

There are two types of diets you can feed: homemade or commercial brands.

The homemade hypoallergenic diet uses 1 part protein and 4 to 5 parts cooked white rice.  For those dogs that have never had protein such as turkey or lamb before, these are both good options.  If you are not sure which types of protein the dog has had, it is advisable to try rabbit or venison, as very few dogs have eaten these in a normal diet.

Many commercial dog foods are now considered hypoallergenic because they have limited ingredients and few additives.  Go to a specialty dog food store for the best diets made by small manufacturers.  Every dog is an individual and there is no one-size-fits-all diet.  That said, my current preference is for Nature’s Variety diets Prairie or Instinct (avoid chicken).

During the diet, you will feed your dog only the prescribed diet.  This means no treats and no heartworm prevention medication.  While on this diet, you should also avoid any supplements, as these often have agents used in binding the vitamins and minerals together, which the dog may be allergic to.  You do not have to worry about any deficiencies developing in the short amount of time the dog will be on the diet.

You should see results in as little as a few weeks.  Stools become normal, itching and scratching stop, small sores go away.  However, if the severe scratching returns when the dog goes back on his regular diet, then you most likely have a food allergy occurring.

As the itching decreases over the 8 to 12 weeks, you can slowly begin adding back ingredients into the diet and watch to see if the itchiness associated with the food allergy reoccurs.  You will add each ingredient until you have developed a well-balanced diet plan and the dog does not have an itching reaction.  This diet can be fed long-term, as long as it is balanced.

Once on a homemade diet, many dogs may develop problems after being switched back to a commercial diet.  These may include symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and itchiness.  In some cases this is due to the same carbohydrate or protein being used in the homemade diet is the same in the commercial diet.  However, artificial flavorings, chemicals and preservatives are usually to blame in this situation.


Tips to Remember Regarding Food Allergies

  • Occur non-seasonally
  • Each dog is different
  • Occur at any age, but most common in dogs 2 years or older
  • Often allergic to beef, chicken, soy, wheat, fish, eggs, corn, and milk.
  • Neither skin testing nor will blood testing accurately diagnose the allergen.
  • Food allergies are less common than dermatitis

from English Bulldog Health


Veterinarian speaks out concerning Bulldog health problems

Many new Bulldog owners who love the unusual look of the English Bulldog often don’t know what they’re getting in for.

Now several vets have gotten into the argument that a dog that is so inbred that it cannot breed on it’s own (Bulldogs are artificially inseminated and give birth by c-section) and has become so popular that many back yard breeders are hoping to make a quick buck at the expense of the welfare of the breed, not to mention the heartbreak that newbie owners often feel when their beloved Bulldog has severe health problems.

That’s why I wrote my book on Bulldog Health – to educate owners and prospective owners on the many common health issues of bulldogs.

Here’s some more from the article:

It’s not that no one should own the breed, she says. It’s just that those thinking of acquiring a purebred Bulldog should know that a dog with such a flat, wrinkled face might have trouble breathing, particularly if it becomes overweight. Also, joint problems like arthritis are common as well as reproductive issues. It seems that English Bulldogs often cannot be bred without artificial assistance and surgical delivery of the puppies.

“Bulldog owners are sometimes shocked and dismayed at how high-maintenance these dogs are, and they are not prepared for the high cost of corrective surgeries and ongoing medication and health care,” Kennedy says.

The Bulldog, renowned for its quiet, affectionate disposition, has become hugely popular in recent years. In 1973, the Bulldog was the 41st most popular registered breed in the country, according to the American Kennel Club. But in 2007, it cracked the top 10 most popular breeds and last year, ranked No. 8.

In Los Angeles, the Bulldog is the second most popular breed, after the Labrador Retriever. In Boston, the Bulldog comes in third and No. 5 in Chicago. 

Kennedy says she thinks the breed has been debilitated by show standards that reward exaggerated features like the flat face and large head. She notes that Bulldogs can have such trouble breathing that many cannot exercise normally or even ride in a car that might get warm.

A Bulldog puppy can cost as much as $4,000, although general prices hover around $2,000, he says. 

Unfortunately, the people who buy these trendy puppies often do not know what a healthy Bulldog is, and they get taken in by disreputable breeders who mate dogs that never should have offspring.

Van Der Marliere says he attends the Bulldog Beauty Contest, which has been held in Long Beach for the past five years. The contest, which has no conformation standards, draws more than 300 competitors. He runs into many dogs that rasp and huff when they breathe and estimates that a quarter of those dog owners are unaware that the sound is abnormal and unhealthy. He sees a lot of uncorrected cherry eye as well.

He has to tell the owners these are problems and can be surgically corrected.

The surge in popularity and the prices the dogs sell for is drawing in many disreputable breeders, says Elizabeth Hugo-Milam, chair of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee. Bulldogs are even being imported from breeders oversea.

“You have ridiculous people breeding dogs who shouldn’t even own one,” she says. “You have buyers who are not being careful and so the breeders are not careful. It’s just a mess.

“I am just heartbroken about the way things are going,” she adds.

Hugo-Milam says public education is critical. She believes that if the public can identify healthy Bulldogs, they will not buy unhealthy dogs and help drive the irresponsible breeders out of the market.

“It is a terrible cycle of a lot of ignorance,” she says.

Objective evidence of breed health generally is not extensive and the frequency of health problems in the breed is not known exactly. The Bulldog community gives different impressions concerning the prevalence of adverse health conditions.

According to the report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), a survey by the United Kingdom Kennel Club found that the median life expectancy of a Bulldog is less than seven years, compared to 13 years for a Labrador Retriever. K9 Magazine reported in 2007, that annual veterinary costs for a Bulldog were twice that of a Labrador Retriever.

The report also says, “There is little doubt that the anatomy of the English Bulldog has considerable capacity to cause suffering.” 

original article here


Inherited diseases in English Bulldogs

I did a search for Bulldog inherited dog diseases from the University of Cambridge  Veterinary School and found some surprising results.

English Bulldog Inherited Diseases:

Cryptorchidism: Failure of descent of testes. Coupled with failure in maturation.

Hemophilia: inadequate blood clotting

Hemivertebrae: Wedge shaped asymmetric thoracic vertebrae with persistence of the mid line dorso-ventral septum. Severe kyphosis kinking of the vertebral column with spinal cord compression, hind limb weakness and pain.  These are malformed vertebrae in the spine, also found in French Bulldogs

Neoplasia – Mast Cell TumourComments: Excess of mast cell tumours.

Pulmonic stenosis: Pulmonary valve dysplasia and stenosis giving reduced tolerance of exercise and increased risk of congestive heart failure.

Spina bifida: Congenital spinal anomalies which result from defective closure of the neural tube.

Prolapse of the nictitans gland: The nictitating gland associated with the third eyelid is displaced forward and becomes visible.

here’s the database


Use of Honey and Sugar to Treat Dog Wounds!

If your dog has a large wound that is difficult to treat you could try an anchient treatment of honey!  I know local honey is useful for treating allergies as the pollen comes from local plants and helps build up immunity to the associated allergen.  But honey also has anti-bacterial properties as explained here:

When a companion animal has lost a significant amount of skin and subcutaneous tissue to a fall from the back of a pickup truck — burns, aggressive infections, etc. — the cost of modern wound dressings can be prohibitive. Sugar and honey are cheap enough to save pets that might otherwise be euthanized because of the costs associated with their treatment.

Sugar and honey work because of the way in which they change the local wound environment. When sugar is applied to a lesion, it draws water out through the tissues and dissolves. The resulting sugar solution is so concentrated that it inhibits the growth of bacteria. Honey works in the same way but also produces hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria. In addition, sugar and honey both draw white blood cells to the area that work to clean the wound, speed the sloughing of dead tissue, and aid in the formation of a protective layer on the wound’s surface. Overlying bandages need to be changed and sugar and honey reapplied frequently to maintain their healing properties, but this is no different from what needs to be done when using commercially prepared wound dressings.

via Old Advances in Veterinary Medicine Still New | Old School Veterinary Medicine | petMD.


Leptospirosis: deadly bacteria

Leptospirosis or Lepto as it is often called is a potentially deadly bacteria found in many suburban as well as rural areas.  Your dog can be infected by swimming in infected, usually stagnant water or in the urine of infected animals or by eating a diseased animal.  It enters the bloodstream through small cuts or through the mucous membranes in the nose and eyes and mouth of your pet.

Here are the symptoms as described by veterinarian Dr. Coates:

“a dog will first develop a fever and then about a week later evidence of kidney and/or liver failure dominates the clinical picture. Lethargy, poor appetite, muscle and joint pain, vomiting, increased thirst, the production of abnormally large or small amounts of urine, yellow mucous membranes, and bleeding or bruising are common. Routine blood work and a urinalysis can often diagnose kidney and liver failure, but specific tests are needed to identify leptospirosis as the underlying cause.”

If you suspect your dog has been exposed or is exhibiting symptoms consistent with Leptospirosis, get him or her to your vet for testing.

via Leptospirosis: Part 1 | Fully Vetted | petMD.


Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

our bull dog has cushing disease? we need help.also she has low thyroid. Thanks jackie

Hi Jackie,

Cushing’s Disease or Syndrome is a hormonal disorder in which the dog produces too much cortisol, the stress hormone produced in a “fight or flight” situation. Often your dog’s symptoms are unusual skin growths and a “flea bitten” look to the coat. Left untreated your dog’s prognosis is not good.

There are two kinds: one is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, a small very important gland deep in the brain which controls the adrenal glands that produce cortisol as well as the thyroid gland and all hormonal functions of the body; the other (rare) is caused by a tumor on the adrenal glands causing it to produce more cortisol.

Your vet can do blood tests to determine which kind of Cushing’s your Bulldog has. Cushing’s is controlled with medication that supresses the production of cortisol. You will need to do follow up blood tests regularly to make sure the medication levels are appropriate.

Since your Bulldog has low thyroid the cause of his hormonal disorder is most likely from a problem with the pituitary gland. This is manageable but she will need medication for the remainder of her life.

Here’s an article from the FDA with more information: Cushing’s Disease in Dogs


Doggie Advertising: Manipulating You and Your Pet

Now I’ve heard it all…

In an attempt to influence dog owners Purina, the makers of Beneful, have embedded high frequency sounds into their latest commercial.  The idea is if your pet sits up and pays attention maybe you will too and go buy this dog food.

Having been in the ad business as a food photographer for 25 years it never ceases to amaze me the lengths advertisers will go in order to persuade you to purchase their products.  The buyer must always beware!

In my opinion it is better to be educated than manipulated when it comes to something as important as your dog’s food.  Beneful is loaded with corn (not easily digested by dogs) and flavor enhancers, and very little real meat protein (dogs are primarily carnivores). I would never recommend feeding it.  A list of the foods I do recommend is included in my Bulldog Health System.

Here’s the ad in question:


Poisonous Foods and Plants

It’s always good to be reminded of what food dangers lurk in your kitchen that could make your dog seriously ill.  We are familiar with a lot of them like chocolate and sugar-free gum (for the artificial sweetener xylitol), and grapes.  But there are more.

Onions, parts of apples (seeds, stems, leaves), bread dough! and more.

And if you have a puppy, be extra vigilant as they tend to chew on everything.

Here’s the entire article:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away — unless you’re a dog or cat, in which case a crunchy Golden Delicious can prove poisonous! Lots of “people food” and pretty plants can have harmful, even fatal effects on our furry friends. Keep them safe with this checklist of natural toxins; you might be surprised at what you find.

Apples: All the non-meat parts of an apple — the stem, leaves, and seeds — contain cyanide, which is poisonous to animals and humans.

Avocado: Avocadoes contain persin, a toxic fatty-acid derivative that can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, fluid around the heart, and even death. All species — domesticated animals, cattle, even fish — are susceptible, so keep the guac well out of reach of your pets.

Baby food containing onion or garlic: Baby food is often recommended for ill felines; Layla Morgan Wilde, cat behavior guru and founder of the Annex Cat Rescue, notes that it’s “excellent for cats that have lost their appetite, but check the ingredient labels” first to make sure no onions lurk within.

Bread dough: Cindy Wenger, animal communicator, comments that “a little bit of bread dough can cause a big problem.” Why? “A dog’s stomach creates the perfect warm environment to allow bread dough to do what it does best, and that’s rise,” Wenger says. “Bread dough can quickly expand in a dog or cat’s stomach, causing it to distend beyond its capacity, cutting off its blood supply.” On top of that, fermenting yeast can produce ethanol; once that’s absorbed into the bloodstream, your pet may appear uncoordinated and disoriented. (Drunk, in other words. Not good.)

Chocolate: Large amounts cause stomach cramping and vomiting in dogs and cats. (Keep in mind too that, for a cat or small dog, a couple of mini Special Dark bars is a large amount relative to their size.)

Grapes/raisins: It’s unclear how many grapes or raisins your pet would need to eat to cause kidney failure — some sources think it could take as few as four — but why risk it?

Mushrooms: All kinds — not just the sketchy-looking ones in your back yard — are poisonous to dogs.

Nuts: Macadamias and walnuts contain a toxin that affects the digestive and nervous systems of dogs, and could cause seizures.

Onions: In raw or cooked form, onions — and their cousins, like chives and leeks — are toxic to cats and dogs. They contain thiosulphate, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath in pets. What’s worse, says pet expert Steven May of The Daily Growl, “Typically the symptoms won’t show up for a day or two.” May recommends taking your pet to the vet right away if you think she’s eaten onions; better safe than sorry.

Sugar-free gum and mints: Sugar-free snacks and candy sometimes contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s the enemy of your dog’s liver.

Aloe: A wonderful topical treatment for humans, it’s bad for cats and dogs.

Baby’s breath: Also poisonous to cats and dogs. Keep bouquets out of pets’ reach, or just pull this “filler flower” altogether before putting flowers in a vase.

Bulbs: Including tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.


Chamomile: Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Grass: “But my dog/cat eats grass all the time! It’s what dogs/cats do!” And usually it’s fine — unless, says Wilde, “it’s sprayed with pesticides.” Natural grass is okay, she says. But if you don’t know what the lawn guy put on the grass, don’t let your pets nibble it.

Hyacinths: Not just the bulbs; the rest of the plant is poisonous as well.


Lilies: Bruce Silverman, VMD of Chicago, IL deems lilies “probably the most common natural toxin I see ingested by cats.” Lilies “are toxic to a cat’s kidneys after a cat licks or chews on any part of the plant or flower,” Silverman says, and the cat will need IV fluids and other professional care “to try to get the kidneys back into healthy condition.”

Poinsettias: Now that the holidays are over, poinsettias pose less of a danger, but some folks do replant them outdoors.

Insects: Often harmless, but Dr. Silverman relates a funny story about dogs and cicadas: “A few years ago half the dogs in the Chicago metro area went crazy scarfing down cicadas during their 13-year-cycle. Between the diarrhea and vomiting, and the twisted ankles from all the dogs jumping into the air to catch the cicadas mid-flight, the veterinary community had its hands full.” The occasional moth shouldn’t be a problem, but if your pet is snacking on a pile of bugs — or you live in an area with poisonous spiders — keep an eye on any bug snacking.

Rock salt: De-icing salt can cause burning and cracking to paws. If it gets stuck between your pet’s toes and he licks his feet to work it loose, it could irritate his stomach. If your pets go outdoors (and cats generally shouldn’t), add a quick paw rinse to your wintertime post-walk routine, and check the animal’s feet to make sure uncomfortable boluses of salt or dirt haven’t gotten trapped.

Alcohol: “Some people think it’s cute or funny for a pet to drink, i.e. a beer, not realizing alcohol is toxic to both cats and dogs,” Wilde says.

Caffeine: Could cause collapse and seizures, among other symptoms, in pets.

Nicotine: Smoking kills — secondhand smoke is bad for pets, too — and nicotine in any form, whether cigarettes, patches, or gum, can cause heart and respiratory failure in pets.

Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, prescription drugs, and medications intended for use by humans should never be given to pets. Topical preparations for humans — sunscreen; bug repellent; rubbing alcohol, e.g. — should also be kept well out of their reach.

And drugs and medicines that are intended for your furry friends should be administered as directed. Do not borrow prescriptions from friends, or freelance the dosage; do as your vet advises, and if you aren’t sure how to give a medication, call and ask.

Excessive thirst
Panting or shallow breathing

If your pet doesn’t display these symptoms, but you saw the cat nibbling a daffodil or the dog is behaving oddly after digging in the trash, don’t take chances. Call your vet, an emergency-care clinic, or an animal poison-control hotline right away.

original article here


Bulldog Health: Can the Bulldog Be Saved?

Given the current popularity of the English Bulldog (now in the top 6 most popular AKC breeds) and the short life span (6 years average) and immense health problems, is it right to keep breeding our beloved Bullies?

I have struggled with this question over the years because of the health issues my Bulldogs have had, how I see them suffer, and when I hear so many sad stories from my newsletter readers.

An in depth article in the New York Times Magazine goes into depth about the Bulldog breed, how the British have changed the standard to reduce some obvious health problems such as breathing and hip dysplasia.

Citing the University of Georgia Bulldogs, all named Uga, with their short life spans in the public eye, the article casts a dim view of some breeding practices.

Here are some excerpts:

The short lifespan.

Though there is no recent comprehensive study in this country comparing the life spans of different breeds, a 2010 British study published in The Journal of Small Animal Practice reported that the typical bulldog lives only slightly longer than six years. “The bulldog is unique for the sheer breadth of its health problems,”…

Why are they so popular?

“We have, to some extent, accentuated physical characteristics of the breed to make it look more human, although essentially more like caricatures of humans, and specifically of children,” he told me. “We’ve bred bulldogs for their flat face, big eyes, huge mouth in relation to head size and huge smiling face.”

On Bulldog breathing:

the human equivalent to breathing the way some bulldogs do “would be if we walked around with our mouth or nose closed and breathed through a straw.”

On the history of the breed:

Bulldogs get their name from their role in bull-baiting, arguably the most popular sport of the Elizabethan era…

Fighting bulldogs were leaner and higher off the ground than bulldogs today, and their muzzles were longer. They had smaller heads, fewer facial rolls and a long tail…

“Bulldogs today are not even a figment of what they used to be.”…

The bulldog might have disappeared into obscurity had 19th-century Victorian England not gone dog crazy…

the bulldog underwent a physical, temperamental and public-relations transformation.

On the uneducated owners of Bulldogs:

“A lot of people buy a breed like the bulldog without realizing just how compromised it is,” he said. “They also have no idea how to differentiate a ‘responsible’ breeder from an irresponsible one.”

I heard the same thing from Laurette Richin of the Long Island Bulldog Rescue. When she opened the doors to her rescue organization in 1999, Richin had 13 bulldogs that needed homes. Last year, she had 218. “This breed is so popular right now, and people fall in love with the dog’s face and buy it on impulse without doing their homework,” she said. “Then, when the dog ends up being too ‘needy’ or too expensive, people give them up.”

To read this compelling article on the Bulldog breed in it’s entirety:

Can the Bulldog Be Saved? – NYTimes.com.


Natural Home Remedies For Fleas

I’d never heard of this simple remedy for fleas, but it’s certainly worth a try before subjecting your dog to strong chemicals.

To Eliminate Fleas

Try: Dawn Dishwashing Liquid. To kill fleas on dogs without using toxic chemicals, add a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid under running water to fill a sink or bathtub and give your dog a bath in the soapy solution. Work the lather into your pet’s coat and let it soak for more than 5 minutes. The soap penetrates the exoskeletons of fleas, killing them, and works more effectively than some prescribed flea shampoos.

Dog Health: Natural Home Remedies For Fleas | Prevention.com.


Bulldog Vomiting Bile and Food

A French Bulldog owner contacted me concerning his health.  She did all her research into a good breeder
and it sounds like she had a very good one. But stuff can still happen.

We have been in contact with the breeder several times, and visited her house prior to the day we got to take him home. She also made a few surprise visits to our house to check on his progress.

I am still very concerned for his health however. He has been vomiting occasionally.  We have been keeping him on a diet of red meat or chicken necks and some dried food.

He usually eats twice a day, which we have recently changed to just dried food, a smaller meal in the morning and a larger portion at lunch time. We also give him an occasional “natures energy treats”. They are just a dried food treat, and he probably has 2 of these a day.

He will sometimes get up in the middle of the night to be sick (according to my son) and I will sometimes find vomit around the place, which appears to consist of bile. He has vomited entire meals up almost immediately after eating on occasion. He has been off and on his food recently, and he appears to have lost a little weight and his energy levels seem to be a little low, which I can only assume is from a lack of food. The dried food seems to suit him a lot better, and since we’ve switched to that he seems to be holding it down. We are trying to find meals that suit him, and if you could offer any advice, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance ,



Hi Marisa,

From your description it sounds like Jean-Baptiste may have a couple things going on: vomiting bile and one of the esophageal disorders that are fairly common in Bulldogs.

Since the French Bulldog is a dwarf English Bulldog there is a high probability of these disorders. A bulldog puppy vomiting yellow bile in the morning is fairly common and not usually cause for concern.  It happens because the dog hasn’t eaten for a while and stomach acids have accumulated overnight.  These acids irritate the stomach lining and cause him to vomit.

Try giving him an evening meal and see it this helps with this.

In my French Bulldog Health book I go into detail about the esophageal disorders. They sounds scary but there may be an easy fix.  First of all, there is a difference between vomiting and regurgitation. If your dog is simply throwing up food right after eating, food that has not been in the stomach, it is probably simple regurgitation from the esophagus (throat).

Bulldogs tend to gulp their food and sometimes eat so fast that the food can’t get down the esophagus properly and so they throw up.

There is a condition common in Bulldogs called esophageal motility disorder, where the normal constrictions of the esophagus don’t work properly and cause the bulldog to not “swallow” properly and often regurgitate.

There is a simple way to alleviate this condition that I recommend in my book.  Elevate your bulldog’s food dish.  This lets gravity take over and help get the food down his throat.

To soothe an upset stomach you can feed him a little canned pumpkin with his food – be sure it is pure pumpkin and NOT pumpkin pie mix which is loaded with sugar.

You can also feed him more frequently, smaller meals and see if he holds it down better.

There are, however, other things that can cause vomiting, including food allergies, metabolic disorders, ulcers, or even obstructions in the throat, or if he has something lodged in his stomach like a rawhide bone or teddy bear.


Bulldog Seizure Management

This article casts new light on an old problem of seizures in dogs.  Many Bulldogs display “head nodding” or “head bobbing” behavior that is usually just a phase and can be treated with a little glucose (see this post).

If your Bulldog has a seizure disorder it’s a different and painful process finding medications that work.  This article is a repost from Dr Jennifer Coates:

Do you have a dog or cat that has seizures? If you do and the problem is serious enough to warrant treatment, chances are you are giving your pet phenobarbital or potassium bromide, either alone or in combination. In the majority of cases phenobarbital and potassium bromide do a great job of reducing seizure frequency and severity to acceptable levels (at least with dogs; seizures in cats can be really bad news). Up until recently, however, pets that did not respond well to these medications were out of luck. Thankfully, that situation is changing.

First, a bit of background. A seizure is a symptom, not a disease in and of itself. Sometimes veterinarians can find an underlying cause for a pet’s seizures. Electrical activity in the brain may be disrupted by tumors, inflammatory diseases, infections, metabolic abnormalities, and more.

If this is the case, treatment should be aimed at the primary problem, although medications to control seizures may also be necessary for either the short or long term. If no underlying cause for a pet’s seizures can be found, he or she will be diagnosed with primary epilepsy, in which case seizure control (not eradication – this is rarely possible) is the main goal of treatment.

Phenobarbital and potassium bromide have long been, and still are, the go-to drugs for seizure control in veterinary medicine. But they don’t work well in all situations. The problems associated with the drugs typically fall into two categories:
1. Pets continue to have frequent and/or severe seizures despite having serum levels of these drugs that fall at the high end of the therapeutic range.

2. Pets have unacceptably severe side effects, typically sedation, ataxia (difficulty walking), increased appetite, thirst and urination, or pronounced elevations in liver enzymes.
When phenobarbital and potassium bromide are not suitable options, it is time to look to the newer drugs like felbamate, gabapentin, levetiracetam, pregabalin, topiramate, and zonisamide. These have the advantage of fewer side effects even when used at the relatively high doses that may be needed to control a pet’s seizures. They can be used alone or in conjunction with phenobarbital and potassium bromide, in which cases the doses of the older drugs can often be lowered dramatically, which reduces their adverse effects.

But don’t run out and ask your vet for a new prescription if your pet’s seizures are well-controlled on phenobarbital and/or potassium bromide. I strongly believe in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach, and most vets have so much experience with these older drugs that we know what problems to look for and how to deal with them if they arise. The same cannot be said with the newer medications that we are “borrowing” from the human medical community.

The newer meds are also more expensive than phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Thankfully, some are now available as generics, which puts them within financial reach for many more pet owners.

If your veterinarian is unfamiliar with or uncomfortable using these newer anti-seizure medications, ask whether a consultation with a veterinary neurologist might be in your pet’s best interests.


Bulldog Puppy with Urinary Tract Infection

Hello Jan,

First of all, I would like to thank you very much for all the knowledge we’ve gain from your emails.

I thought of you because me and my girlfriend is having problems with our baby Basha. Since she was 3 months old we have been giving her CANIDAE (Grain-free Salmon). She’s now 8 months old.

We just found out she has an Urinary Tract problems, which causes her to urinate in her sleep. So our Vet prescribe her antibiotic and said we had to change her diet to Prescription Diet c/d.

I researched on the ingredients of that dog food which contains whole grain corn, chicken by-product, soymilk meal, corn gluten meal, soybean mill run, and soybean oil.

I’ve learned that all these are bad for any dogs especially for Bulldogs. I wanted to ask you before we consult with another vet. Shouldn’t there be other alternative diet for our baby.

Thank you for your kind help. Have a great day.



Hi Ed,

Personally I don’t like those prescription diets and think their ingredients are not good for dogs long term.  Many vet schools are sponsored by Hills Science Diet and vets are trained to use these special diets.

Urinary Tract infections can call for reduced protein, some minerals and sodium. It’s possible that the grain free salmon was overloading her.  I’d just switch to a meat based diet like Prairie Lamb or Venison and see how she does.

It’s important that Basha be treated for this infection and once you start the antibiotics it’s advisable that you finish them.  You can add probiotics to her diet while she’s on them to help promote beneficial bacteria that antibiotics tend to kill with the bad.  Also you can add 1 Tbs of vinegar (I use Braggs raw unfiltered) to her water bowl when you fill it up and be sure the
water is fresh.  The vinegar helps neutralize ph and can prevent overgrowth of the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections.

Bathe her ‘private’ area at lease once a week in mild soap to keep bacteria from proliferating, walk her a couple times a day to encourage her to pee which will also prevent bacterial build up.

your bulldog pal,


Want a Bulldog? Know the Genetic Health Risks First!

Bulldogs have many genetic conditions that may plague them over their lives.  And if you get insurance they will not be covered.  So know what you’re getting into before you purchase a Bulldog.  And be very careful where you get your Bulldog.

Health Issues Common to Bulldogs

Bulldogs’ hips and spines are often malformed, as are their mouths. They suffer from a long list of respiratory ailments. Their many wrinkles and folds, and tightly curled tails, mean lots of skin infections. Cherry eye, inverted eyelids, cataracts and dry eye are just a few of the eye abnormalities that can affect the Bulldog.

Many conditions have no screening tests, even though they’re known or believed to be genetic. These include seizure disorders, allergies and skin problems, several kinds of bladder stone, a long list of airway defects, birth defects, infertility and cancer, and more. Bulldogs are also at high risk for “bloat and torsion,” where the stomach twists on itself, trapping air inside, and requiring immediate emergency surgery.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat

Pulmonic Stenosis

High $1,000-$7,000

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat)

High $1,500-$7,500

Elbow Dysplasia High $1,500-$4,000

Aortic Stenosis Medium $500-$1,500

Colitis High $500-$3,000

Entropion High $300-$1,500

Deafness High $100-$300

Fold Dermatitis Very High $300-$2,500

via Finding a Healthy Bulldog by Embrace Pet Insurance.


Medications for Your Pet … Questions for Your Vet

Medications for Your Pet … Questions for Your Vet

Questions you should ask your veterinarian when medication is prescribed

  1. Why has my pet been prescribed this medication and how long do I need to give it?

  1. How do I give the medication to my pet? Should it be given with food?

  1. How often should the medication be given and how much should I give each time? If it is a liquid, should I shake it first?

  1. How do I store the medication?

  1. What should I do if my pet vomits or spits out the medication?

  1. If I forget to give the medication, should I give it as soon as I remember or wait until the next scheduled dose? What if I accidently give too much?

  1. Should I finish giving all of the medication, even if my pet seems to be back to normal?

  1. Could this medication interact with other medications my pet is taking?

  1. What reactions should I watch for, and what should I do if I see any side effects?

  1. When should I bring my pet back for a recheck? Will you be calling me to check on my pet’s progress, or should I call you?

If you have any questions during your pet’s treatment, contact your veterinarian.

Center for Veterinary Medicine

Animal Health Literacy > Medications for Your Pet … Questions for Your Vet.


Lump on Young Bulldog’s Neck

I was wondering, I know you have been through alot with your Bulldog Archie and I was wondering if he has ever happened to have a lump under his neck by where his collar would hang?

My fiance had noticed this lump on our mini bulldog Tuffy’s neck. He said he first noticed it about a couple of months ago and since has gotten a little bigger but tonight it looked like part of it was a scab & started to come off, so he cleaned it off with peroxide since it was bleeding.

We haven’t noticed a change in his personality or demenor but I have never seen or heard of anything like this. This is the only thing that could possibly be a genetic defect or something along that line as the only issue he has had was an allergic reaction to a flea medication.

He has been a really good & healthy dog but this worries me & we have an appointment for him on Monday but I was told that maybe it was a cut that got infected or a cyst that has gotten irritated. I guess basically I am hoping you might have heard or seen this before & can maybe put my mind at ease. Attached is a picture of what the lump looks like. I greatly appreciate any help or advice you can give.


Hi Jennifer,

That could be a histiocytoma, a benign tumor of the skin cells and is usually found on young dogs.  If that’s the case you do not need to have it removed as it will resolve itself on it’s own.  I think that peroxide might irritate it because it is quite drying.

My Archie had one on his upper neck when he was young.  It was quite gruesome looking especially to other pet owners.  My vet advised me to leave it alone and it went away after a couple months.

It’s still important to get a proper diagnosis from your vet.  Here’s a link to more information on histiocytomas:

your bulldog pal,


Bulldog Vomiting and Diarrhea – Extreme Danger

My Bulldog Archie has just come home from a couple of days in the doggie
ICU. Here’s what happened.

Sunday night he vomited – no I don’t think it was the Superbowl ads 🙂
This is not out of the ordinary in a dog’s life. But then he vomited again at 1am, 3am and 5am. This was not ordinary.

At first I thought he had ingested a foreign object – he does like to chew.
And dogs have a reflex at the back of the stomach that will make them
vomit up something that’s trying to move through to the intestines.

But there was nothing in his vomit. By morning he was clearly not feeling
well. He wouldn’t eat or drink and was lethargic. Definitely bad signs.
Knowing that dehydration can be life threatening for a dog, I gave him
some water by pouring it in his mouth.

I called my vet and took him in. There are some things that you just can’t
take care of at home. They did x-rays and didn’t see any objects in his
intestines but did see an enlarged area.

They said I could take him home and monitor him but because of the danger
of dehydration I decided to let them put him on an IV drip in the ICU.

Boy am I glad I did because they called that evening and said he had vomited
two more times and then overnight he started having bloody diarrhea.

Luckily his blood work was “perfect” except for a high blood protein level
consistent with dehydration.

The vomiting stopped but the diarrhea went on for the next day and then
he gradually started to improve.

They thought he had a condition called Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis HGE
which is a fancy name for bloody diarrhea from inflamed intestines.

Now he’s back home and resting (a lot) comfortably.

The lesson here is that if your dog vomits more than once and especially if
it’s accompanied by diarrhea and lethargy and no interest in food, it’s
imperative to get him to the vet immediately.

When a dog dehydrates (this also applies to overheating that can lead to
Heat Stroke) the blood starts to thicken and he goes into shock. The thick
blood will start to make small clots and lead to organ failure and death. If
this clotting starts it is irreversible.

If you want to read more about HGE, the Whole Dog Journal has a very good
article on it at this link:

Yes, it was expensive and I do have pet insurance which I’m hoping will
cover it. And yes, it could recur. But if I had waited a day to see if he would
get better he probably would have died. And that would have been tragic.


Lupus Erythematosus in Bulldog

I am on my second bully now, a wonderful ever so chewhappy 6 mo wonder. The first one (love of my life for 9 years) I had to put down since he was losing his battle with lupus. My question to you is, have you ever heard of a bully getting lupus?

I’m sorry to hear about your Bulldog but glad to hear you have a new Bulldog puppy!

I have not heard of a Bulldog getting lupus although dogs can get autoimmune disorders
which often go undiagnosed.  Collies are the dogs most affected by Lupus Erythematosus.
It is not a very common disease in dogs.

Here is a link to more information on Lupus Erythematosus in dogs including
symptoms and treatment and dogs affected:

Bulldogs are well known for having compromised immune systems
due to the in breeding they have suffered over the decades.  The
most common manifestations of this is skin allergies.


Hair Falling Out Around French Bulldog’s Eyes

Hello Jan,

My name is Erica I have a 81/2month old brindle frenchie lately I’ve noticed around her eyes she seems to be loosing hair and today one of her eyes looks a little puffy. I use puppy wipes to clean her face but have stopped using them just in case I didn’t know if it was from the wipes or maybe her food. We use  purina pro plan just wondering what I could do at home first to prevent going to the vet.

Thanks, Erica

Hi Erica,

From your description & your dog’s age that sounds like an outbreak of demodectic mange or a proliferation of mites.  Mites normally live peacefully on a dog’s skin but can get out of hand and start to multiply.  Since they live in the base of the hair follicle they will cause the hair to fall out.  Around the eyes is one of the places it shows up.

Most cases of mites will resolve themselves on their own with no treatment.  It is difficult to treat by the eyes because most products should not be allowed in eyes.

Diet is important in your dog’s immune system’s ability to fight off invaders like mites.  I would suggest you get a higher quality diet for your Frenchie.  Go to your local specialty dog food store (not a big box store) and get a human grade food made with no corn, no wheat, no soy, no chicken.  Try a lamb and rice formula I recommend in my book such as Prairie or a fish diet like Taste of the Wild.

Good luck – keep me posted.

Your Bulldog Pal,


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