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


Hives in Bulldog – What Do I Do?

Jan, I am enjoying your e-mails and love learning about my bully!  Last night he got hives, which he still has today.  I’m not sure if it was because of the terrible storms we’ve been having or if he found something old and disagreeable to eat in my teenager’s bedroom.  Do you have any thoughts on hives?



Hi Carol,

Hives are an allergic reaction that manifests in the skin.  They show up as small elevated areas that are warm and inflamed.  They usually appear quickly after contact and sometimes go away quickly when your dog is removed from the source.

Hives can be caused by contact with an allergen such as harsh chemicals in the carpet  or seasonal pollens from trees or grasses.  They can also be caused by food, insect bites, or medication.

It’s important to notice what your Bullie was doing before the incident.  If you can find the source you simply keep him away from it.  For example if his bed was washed in a new detergent that could be the source.  Only use “free and clear” laundry detergents.

For treatment you can give him a small dose of Benadryl (pink box, smallest dose – do not buy liquid).  This may clear it up.  If not you may need to take him to your vet for a cortisone shot if he has a really severe case.

You can also bathe him in cool water and oatmeal shampoo to remove any allergens that may be on his coat.  Do not use hot water as the hives are already ‘hot’ and this can aggravate them.


French Bulldog Paw Licking and Allergies

Hi Jan,

My French bulldog is 13 months old.  We have been battling some skin issues
with her since she was 5 months old.  It started with a yeast infection in
her right ear.  Since then she ahs had 3 infections in the same ear.  We try
prescription washes and solutions, with little help of preventing the
situation or solving the issue.  She also has a severe paw licking issue,
and gets a pimple looking rash on the hairless part of her belly.  We feel
bad for her and want to resolve this issue for her sake.

I started her as a pup on the Whole Pet Diet, then moved onto the B.A.R.F.
diet, and now per my vets request Royal Canine Hypo- Allergenic Hydrolyzed
Protein dog food.

The same symptoms have persisted.
We have had snow for about a month and I noticed that my dog wasn’t liking
her paws as much.  I am starting to believe that she is allergic to grass.
The second the snow melted away and grass appeared, her belly broke out in a
rash again and the paw licking started up again.

My husband wants to treat her with the allergy injections, but it is costly.
What would you recommend for your frenchie?



Hi Sara,

I have a couple suggestions.  First, do not feed her that Royal Canin
formula, it’s soy and I don’t think dogs are meant to eat soy.  Feed her
something high quality (raw or other) that is not chicken based but
rather venison or duck or salmon, etc.
Next, her condition could be contact allergies since she’s better in
the snow when her paws get cleaned off.  Be sure you are not using
any harsh chemicals anywhere she walks.  Clean her bedding once
a week with dye and chemical free detergent.
You can give her the allergy shots and she will look better for a while.
But they are steroids and have very bad long term effects.  I do not
recommend them except maybe for a very short time to get severe
allergies under control.
Try giving her dye free children’s dose of Benadryl (pink box) instead.
For her ears, be sure you keep them dry.  Yeast thrives on moisture.
Try using an ear cleaner like Oti-Clens several times a day until her
symptoms subside.  It’s available at pet stores, follow directions on box.
Do not over bathe her, it will only increase allergic problems.
I have a lot more suggestions on how to treat allergies plus food
recommendations in my French Bulldog Health System.
your bulldog pal,

French Bulldog Paw Licking and Allergies

Hi Jan,

My French bulldog is 13 months old.  We have been battling some skin issues with her since she was 5 months old.  It started with a yeast infection in her right ear.  Since then she ahs had 3 infections in the same ear.  We try prescription washes and solutions, with little help of preventing the situation or solving the issue.

She also has a severe paw licking issue, and gets a pimple looking rash on the hairless part of her belly.  We feel bad for her and want to resolve this issue for her sake. I started her as a pup on the Whole Pet Diet, then moved onto the B.A.R.F. diet, and now per my vets request Royal Canine Hypo- Allergenic Hydrolyzed Protein dog food. The same symptoms have persisted.

We have had snow for about a month and I noticed that my dog wasn’t liking her paws as much.  I am starting to believe that she is allergic to grass. The second the snow melted away and grass appeared, her belly broke out in a rash again and the paw licking started up again.

My husband wants to treat her with the allergy injections, but it is costly. What would you recommend for your frenchie?

Thanks, Sara


Hi Sara,

I have a couple suggestions.  First, do not feed her that Royal Canin formula, it’s soy and I don’t think dogs are meant to eat soy.  Feed her something high quality (raw or other) that is not chicken based but rather venison or duck or salmon, etc.

Next, her condition could be contact allergies since she’s better in the snow when her paws get cleaned off. Be sure you are not using any harsh chemicals anywhere she walks.  Clean her bedding once a week with dye and chemical free detergent.

You can give her the allergy shots and she will look better for a while. But they are steroids and have very bad long term effects.  I do not recommend them except maybe for a very short time to get severe allergies under control.

Try giving her dye free children’s dose of Benadryl (pink box) instead.

For her ears, be sure you keep them dry.  Yeast thrives on moisture. Try using an ear cleaner like Oti-Clens several times a day until her symptoms subside.  It’s available at pet stores, follow directions on box.

Do not over bathe her, it will only increase allergic problems.

I have a lot more suggestions on how to treat allergies plus food recommendations in my French Bulldog Health System.

your bulldog pal,


French Bulldog with Severe Allergies – Any Suggestions?

Thank you for such a quick response.  I look forward to any information you might have regarding the “frenchie”.

My little bulldog is miserable.  Her one ear continually has a redness to it, causing her to shake her head.  I take her to the vet and she is prescribed anitbiotics and ear drops.  It goes away for a short time then it returns.

She is constantly doing the sit and spin.  Her eyes are watery.  She constantly licks her paws which are red and inflamed.  And occasionally, her underbelly toward her back legs breaks out in a rash with little red bumps.

I recently stopped giving her processed or purchased dog food and started making meals for her myself.  I omitted anything to do with corn, included baby food, brown rice and hamburger or chicken with shredded vegies or potatoes.  It appeared as though she was getting better, then all of a sudden it all comes back again.

I bathe her once a week with oatmeal soap to keep her clean enough to know that her fur is not collecting anything.  She is primarily an inside dog and goes outside occasionally.

Someone suggested a product that I can purchase on line that controls the yeast levels.  Do you know anything about this?



Hi Judy,

That certainly sounds like allergies.  Keep up with the healthy food, it can
take a while.  Paw licking is the definitive sigh of allergies.
The rash could be the result of a “contact allergy” in which she lays on
something that irritates her belly.  Eliminate any harsh detergents and
get the ‘free and clear’ version, and don’t use any dryer softening towels.
Same with carpet cleaners & floor cleaners – nothing harsh.
I’d recommend you continue with the ear drops in case there is yeast
building up.  Clean them daily as the head shaking has to do with yeast
deep in the ear canal.  And you can treat the patch on the ear with a
soothing ointment.
Sitting and spinning is a sign of either yeast in the tail pocket or the
need to express the anal glands.  You can clean her tail with some witch
hazel on a cotton pad daily.
There is a simple home remedy I have used with my bulldog to help
control yeast.  Add 1 Tbs Braggs apple cider vinegar (available at natural
foods stores) to her water bowl each time you fill it up.  It changes the
ph balance and can help control the growth of yeast.
Also, you might want to reduce the amount of bathing as it can actually
dry out the skin and contribute to irritations.
And when she takes antibiotics be sure to give her some probiotics
(human or dog variety) or a little yogurt with live cultures to help counteract
the effect of the antibiotics.
Finally, has she been checked for mites?  Demodex is very common in
young dogs and a simple skin scraping by your vet will rule this out.  They
will cause little bumps and make small areas of hair fall out.  Often they
resolve on their own within a month and no medications are necessary.
your bulldog pal,

Toxic Beds & Toys – No Government Standards on Dog Toys

In case we don’t have enough to worry about with our Bulldogs
and their allergic reactions to things in the environment . . .

There is virtually no government oversight in
the manufacture of pet toys.  In fact there are no safety
requirements like there are in children’s toys.  No government
standards for hazardous chemicals.  Consequently there can be
high levels of lead and other harmful chemicals in your
dog beds and toys.

An organization called Healthy Stuff has just released a list
of dog beds and toys with ratings as to how much lead or other
hazardous materials are used in the manufacture.

It’s an eye-opener!

Especially toxic are half of the tennis balls tested!  And lots of dog
beds – that’s a lot of exposure for the hours your bulldog sleeps.
I suppose I should be somewhat relieved to find that Kong toys
are on the “low” list, but why should they have any toxins.

Take a look – it’s in alphabetical order by manufacturer:

If you are really concerned you can write the government or
the manufacturer of your favorite products.  If they get
enough mail they do listen.

I’m glad there are folks concerned enough to test these products
and let us know.

On a lighter note, Archie and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Our bulldogs give us so much to be thankful for!

your bulldog pal,


Little Red Bumps in Ears – What Kind of Infection?

Hi there Jan,

My name is Angela and I have written to you in the past pertaining to
my wonderful little bully, Dolly. She had been having head tremors at that
time and you really helped me out with the information you provided.
You will be happy to know that for the most part the tremors have subsided.

I do have another question for you about Dolly that you may be of some
assistance. My husband and I have your book, “The Healthy Bulldog”, which
we love and refer to on a lot of occasion.

We just can’t seem to find what we’re looking for when it comes to her ears.
For the past two weeks she has these tiny red bumps inside her ears.
They are crusty with dry blood on them. There is not an odor or any puss.
It actually looks like the end stages of the chicken pox. One ear worse than
the other. She has just began to scratch at them.

Since she was a puppy, she has always allowed me to clean her ears out
with aloe and vitamin E baby wipes, but lately she runs from me and hates
for me to come near her with the wipes no matter how gentle I am. It is
strange for her to not like her ears cleaned considering she used to love it.

My hubby and I also are very proud owners of another male bully named
Samson and two very precious toy poodles, Tiki and Sweet pea. I have
been watching their ears and they are fine. No bumps or crusty blood.
Brian, my hubby, seems to think it may be an allergy to her food, but
she has been on the same food since we first got her.

Could she be developing this allergy as she gets older? We think
it may also be a yeast infection. She also has a couple small bald
spots on her neck due to scratching.

I just wanted to pick your brain and see what you thought. We will
be calling the vet if need be. Please forgive my long email. I know
your busy and I do appreciate any ideas you may have.

Thanks a bunch, Angela


Hi Angela,

It is probably not yeast because with a yeast infection in the
ears, there is usually brownish smelly discharge or waxy stuff.
And it’s sour smelling.

It could be food allergies – what are you feeding her? And is she
on any medications or supplements?

Food allegies can create bald spots and ear infections.  The scratching
is a classic sign of allergies.

She can develop an intolerance to her food over time.  Being
fed the same ingredients, however good, constantly can lead
to a reaction to some small ingredient.  I recommend changing
food every 3-6 months to avoid this.

Although food may be the underlying cause, there are some
remedies to make her feel better now.

You can give her a dye-free benadryl children’s dose (pink box) –
it really helps short term with allergic reactions.

You can try using some calendula cream in her ears – it’s a soothing,
healing cream.  You can get it at a natural foods store.  It may clear
them up in a few days.

If not, it could be mites.  Do you see any tiny brown granulated looking
spots?  Usually there’s an odor involved with a mite infection.
An easy cure for mites is to rub a few drops of mineral oil or
mullein oil (natural foods store) in the ear.  It will kill any mites.

It can also be associated with fleas, but I’m assuming that is not
the case.

It is also possible that there is something in the baby wipes that
is irritating her ears.  By stopping using them, you’ll know soon if
that’s the case.

If you take her to the vet, he should do a skin scraping to determine
what it is.  They often just prescribe anti-biotics without even finding
out what’s the cause.  And it doesn’t sound like she has an infection.

I hope this helps.  Please let me know how she’s doing and tell me
what you’re feeding her.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Can I Feed My Bulldog Chicken? Is It Bad?

Is chicken bad for bulldogs?  I see it in a number of good dog foods and am confused.  If I look for other meats in dog food what should I be looking for?



Hi John,

Chicken is in a lot of good dog foods because it is plentiful
and inexpensive.

I don’t think chicken is bad but there are a lot of food allergies
in dogs related to chicken.  My bulldog Archie is allergic to
chicken.  He had digestive problems and the vet said it was
inflammatory bowel syndrome and he would need to be on meds
his whole life.

I simply could not buy into his diagnosis and that’s what led to
all this research I did on food.

So I did some food trials and whenever I gave Archie chicken,
he would have a reaction.

The reason why so many dogs are allergic to chicken is (in my
opinion) because of over vaccination.  Allergies are really an
immune reaction to a certain protein that that the immune system
perceives (mistakenly) as an intruder.  Like when you have an
allergic reaction to pollen.

In the case of dogs and chicken, it is a reaction to the chicken
protein.  The reason many holistic vets think this is related to
vaccinations is that vaccines are typically grown in chicken eggs
or kidneys or some such medium.

Anyway, whenever I feed Archie anything chicken (even an egg),
he gets diarrhea.

The meats I feed are lamb, venison, rabbit, and other less popular
and over-industrialized foods, sometimes beef (if I cook it myself),
especially if they come from New Zealand or Australia because
the food source is less apt to have been compromised in the
name of efficiency and cost-saving measures.

I used to be in the food industry – I was a food photographer working
for large food companies – and that’s when I learned a lot about
what is done to the foods we eat – and it isn’t pretty.  And all the parts
of the animals that can’t be turned into human food are turned into
dog food.

Purebred dogs and bulldogs in particular are more susceptible to
these things because they are so inbred.  A specialty breed like
the bulldog has been inbred for over a hundred years, and in the
last twenty or so years the AKC encourages this inbreeding by
awarding prizes to certain breed attributes.

This inbreeding is such an issue in terms of general health of any
purebred dog that is bred for looks rather than health.  It really makes
me wonder whether so called championship lines are all they’re
cracked up to be!

your bulldog pal,

——follow up question——

Based on what you are telling me, I will need to watch her “reaction” to it.  What should I be looking for for (itching, hot spots, etc). and how soon should I see these reactions?


The signs of food allergy are either intestinal (diarrhea or soft stools)
which you would see within a day, and skin reactions, usually the hair
starts to fall out in patches which could take a month or more to show
your bulldog pal,


Designer Dogs Taken to New Heights!

I’ve always thought bulldogs were pricey at $2000 – $3000,
but now I have a whole new perspective.

There’s a company that produces “designer pets” to suit your
lifestyle. Forget the labradoodle, we now have a truly
hypoallergenic dog.

It’s called the Jabari GD is an adorable little white fluffy
thing, priced at a mere $15,000. You can read more about this
little fella here:

The company also offers the Titan, the perfect protection dog.
Fierce when it counts yet loving and gentle with the family.
You can pick up one of these guys starting at a cool $85,000
see them here:

They also offer cats hypoallergenic or exotic, ranging in
price from $5900 to $125,000

Is this taking hype and exclusivity to the extreme? I’ll
leave that up to you to decide.

For now, I’m just happy with my snorting, shedding, and probably
making me sneeze bulldog!

Your Bulldog Pal,


Bulldog Pup with Runny Nose – does he need antibiotics?

Jan, I have a question.
I have a big strapping (until this morning) bulldog pup.
He suddenly has a runny snotty
nose. Can I give him some antibiotics?


Hi Tammy,

It depends on why his nose is running.

If he’s having a seasonal allergic reaction to pollens, an antibiotic would
not help. Instead you could give him a dye free children’s dose of Benadryl
(red pack) and see if it helps alleviate his symptoms.

If he has a cold an antibiotic would do no good and it will resolve on it’s own.
The snotty-ness could indicate a cold, but it could also indicate infection.
Dogs do get colds just like humans and usually get better in a few days.

If he has an upper respiratory infection then he would need an antibiotic but
I think you should consult a vet to get a proper diagnosis so he can get
the correct antibiotic for his infection.

You should keep an eye on him. If he gets worse or has any trouble breathing
or gets lethargic or can’t seem to get comfortable, those are all signs that he
may need medical attention.

If he gets better then he probably had an allergy or a cold.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Bulldog Chewing Her Feet: How Can I Help Her?

Hi Jan,

I am wondering what to do for my grand puppy Lucy. I have written to you about her before and since she is having yeast issues on her feet and face I thought I would revisit your articles, and I noticed that you wrote that your Bulldog had some of the same issues for a while. My problem is compounded by the fact that she is not my dog. I do dog sit for her during the day, so I share in the care of her! I can’t take her to a vet that knows Bulldogs better than the one that the owners take her to. Their vet said that she has yeast , but he attributed it to “getting her feet wet outside”!

Please review for me what I can do to help her! Their breeder told them to use baby wipes on her face, but that does not seem to be enough. I have tried the eyewash and even Lotrimin and Gold Bond on her and nothing seems to help.Lucy is now one year old. She is on the Royal Canine Bulldog food. She now has chewed a hole in the fur on one foot!

Thank you for being such a Bulldog enthusiast.



Hi Marie,

Paw licking is a primary sign of allergies. In my opinion
that vet doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Her feet
are wet because she’s licking them all the time and she’s
licking them because she has allergies. Allergies are
caused primarily by a depressed immune system.

The best thing you can do for Lucy is to change her food –
get her off that Royal Canin, she’s probably allergic to something
in it.

Switch her to something like Prairie lamb and oatmeal or California
Naturals lamb and rice or Canidae lamb and rice. You should see
significant changes within a month.

You could also add probiotics and Omega 3s to her diet. They will
help boost her immune system. I give Archie Nordic Naturals Omega
3s and Optagest Digestive Aids – both purchased at a natural foods

While you make the switch, you can bathe her in a medicated
shampoo like Chlorhexiderm 3x a week and/or a rinse of
apple cider vinegar mixed 1 to 1 with water. Or you can just
put dilute apple cider vinegar on the most yeasty areas – it is a
natural anti-fungal. Avoid getting any of these in her eyes.
This should make her feel better.

Gold Bond is probably irritating her face. Just keep her dry and
maybe put a little Monistat in her nose folds. The change of food
should help immensely.

Explain to the owners that spending more on better food will save
on future huge vet bills and keep Lucy from suffering needlessly.

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted on her progress.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Allergic Reaction with Welts in English Bulldog

Our English Bulldog is named Rusty and tonight he (all of a sudden) seemed to be swelling with welts. On top of his head, legs, mouth. He was perfectly fine and we noticed his mouth was turning a little red then the welts. He’s acting pretty fine, panting quite a lot. This happened two weeks ago, too. We took him to the vet and they didn’t have a clue. Gave him something for the swelling and an antibiotic. We stopped giving him the meds a few days later b/c he seemed fine. Weird.


Hi Paula,

This sounds to me like your English Bulldog is having a sudden
allergic reaction. The red mouth and then the welts sounds like
he got stung by a bee, or got into something – dogs always
explore with their mouths – and then developed hives. The panting is also
consistent with an allergic reaction which can cause breathing difficulties.

If not an insect bite, is there something else in his environment that he
could be allergic to? Even carpet cleaner can cause allergic reactions
in bulldogs.

He could even be alergic to something in his food. Did the welts appear
after he ate? A dog can be fine with food for a while and then develop
the allergic reaction.

If Rusty is getting into something (whether an insect or an allergen) and
he has this reaction, be aware that the more exposure to the toxin, the
more severe his symptoms will become. The classic example of this
is a human who develops an allergic reaction to bee stings until they
become life threatening.

Do you have any idea what he could be exposed to?

You can give him a childrens dose of Benedryl dye free (pink box) to
help mild symptoms. If breathing becomes very difficult or symptoms
worsen you need to get him to a vet immediately.

Does he chew his paws? This is another sign of allergies.

Here’s a link to a good article on dog allergies:

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted on his progress.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Hi Jan,
Thanks for your email.  We’ve taken Rusty to the Vet twice now.  We took him this morning.  Two weeks ago to the day we took him, too.  The vet said what you did only she thought it was a spider bite.  We live in Michigan and right now there are no bugs anywhere b/c it’s freezing up here.  There is snow everywhere which he eats alot of.  This morning she thought maybe an allergy to something.  We got benedryl the first time this happened and the vet also gave Rusty and antibiotic and prednisone in case he needed it.
Actually, the carpet and furniture in our home are new.  We got them about 3 weeks ago and this has been going on with Rusty for 2 weeks now.  We have leather furniture and new carpeting.  Of course Rusty thinks he’s a lap dog so he’s on the furniture, too.  I’m wondering if what they treat leather furniture with might be the issue?  We haven’t treated anything so it would have to be what is already on it.  My other thought is maybe dairy?  What do you think?
Thanks so much.


ah ha,

I bet it’s the new things, possibly the carpet because they treat it with anti-stain coatings,
and I’m sure they treat leather with something potentially allergenic as well.

One thing that occurs to me is that since Rusty walks on the carpet, if he then
licks his paws, he could be getting the offending carpet sealer in his mouth and
then have the allergic reaction.

You could get the carpet cleaned and when they do, don’t allow them to use
any strong chemicals to clean and don’t let them re-treat it for pet stains or
pet odors.

As for the leather couch, you could put a cover over the leather where he lays on it.

Some of those things like flame retardants and such do some ‘off gassing’ when they
are new and they will diminish in time.

I realize it’s cold, but you could try airing out your house on a warm day to let
the odors escape.

But I suspect it’s something that gets on his paws that he licks off and whamo!

I wouldn’t suspect dairy at this juncture although it can aggravate and cause allergies.

The fact that the allergic reaction happened when you got the new carpet really
leads me to believe it’s related to that.

Does this sound like a possibility?

Your Bulldog Pal,


Food Allergy or Seasonal Flank Alopecia?

Thank you Jan –

I live in South Florida and have a 1 year old (birthday 2/15) male bulldog, Winston (70lbs) who on one previous occasion (July) had spotting (looked like someone sprinkled oil on his back and left spots) along the ridge of his back.   It lasted a few weeks and wasn’t anything drastic.

Dark spots (minimal hair loss) located about rump wrinkles….

Winston did not have any discomfort (no scratching) nor did he show any signs of knowing about what we saw.    Late January, his spotting (hair loss) re-occured in full force (I brush him and the driveway looks like a hair storm hit…)  along his shoulders, back, rump and hind quarters.

I have been reading up about the seasonal flank alopecia and think that he may have that (he is inside all day long while I am at work until darkfall).  I take him on regular (long) walks every night and several times a day on the weekends (morning, afternoon & night).

He is a HEALTHY eater… too fast, but never leaves a morsal….  Hahahaha

But I wonder about his diet and if that may have instigated a skin condition (or allergic reaction).

I have had him on Royal Canin – Large Breed Puppy formula since he was 4months old.   However, in January, I began to switch (mixing) him to Royal Canin – Bulldog formula. Coincidently, the hair loss began at this time. Now that we are in mid February he continues to lose major amounts of hair and I don’t know what to do.

I’ve been reading on your website and others about the possibility of diet being the cause of bulldog skin conditions….

But, I also see that you list Royal Canin as a preferred brand???  I’m confused…. we are still using the same brand, just moved to bulldog specific formula.  Can this be the problem?

Do you think that the hair loss was triggered by the change of foods…. or SFA?

Any suggestions? HELP

Thank you in advance for you help.

Michelle & Winston


Hi Michele & Winston,

Sorry for any confusion.  There are always conflicting opinions when it comes
to  english bulldogs and the connection between diet and skin.

On my site I list Royal Canin as the most popular brand according to a survey
of my bulldog owners.

That said, I don’t feed it to my Archie because he seems to be allergic to
chicken, the primary protein source in it.

And since your Winston’s hair loss started with your switch to RC B24, I
would definitely be suspicious of a food allergy.

What I currently feed my bulldog Archie is either Canidae or California Naturals
lamb meal and rice formulas.  I have found lamb to be much easier for bulldogs
with allergies.

This is not a set deal.  Some dogs are allergic to different things.  But the
most allergy producing proteins according to my vet skin specialist are
beef, soy, and chicken in that order.

Try switching him to one of these two foods, slowly, over a week or two, and
see what happens.  You should see results within two weeks, as I did with my
Archie.  It’s pretty basic food so he may not be crazy over eating it.  If he
won’t eat it add a little canned Wellness Lamb and Rice formula.

If it doesn’t work you may need to try Duck and Sweet Potato or Venison
and Sweet Potato formulas and see how he reacts to them.

It’s a matter of trial and error with food allergies.

About Seasonal Flank Alopecia, it doesn’t look like that’s what’s bothering
Winston because SFA shows up on the shoulders or sides of the bulldog,
whereas food allergies tend to show up on the top and along the back.

It is also more common in the northern states where there is less daylight
during the winters, like Minnesota.  But it can appear anywhere.

You can read about SFA and see some photos here:

It is always good to let your bulldog get some sun, it is a great natural (and
inexpensive!) anti-bacterial.  Just 20 minutes a day is good.

I hope this helps.  Please keep me posted on his progress.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Food Allergies or Demodectic Mange?

Hi Jan,

I have a 3 year old English Bulldog. I take him to the vet about every week for his allergy shot. The vet says he has food allergies but no matter what food we try it does not seem to work. He is currently on Royal Canine. Do you have any suggestions for me, on what to feed him. He also has cysts appearing all over his body, shedding real bad and hair loss. Is this normal



Hi Tracey,

No that is not normal.  But it is common in bulldogs.  He may have demodex,
otherwise known as mange.  It is caused by a proliferation of mites that
live in the hair follicles of dogs.

The only way to know for sure is to have your vet do a skin scraping.
It is treated with a drug called Ivermectin.  Some vets recommend a
dip but I think this is very harsh and toxic for your bulldog.
You can also treat him with goodwinol topical cream.

But this could also be a symptom of food allergies.  So if your
vet has done a skin scraping and ruled out demodex or other
parasites, I would definitely suspect food as the culprit.

My belief is that these types of skin conditions are aggravated
by food allergies and can be treated effectively by simply
changing the diet in most cases (including mine!).

Centuries of inbreeding the bulldog line has led to some genetic
weakness that can cause a compromised immune
system which can leave them vulnerable to opportunistic diseases such
as demodectic mites that would not invade a healthy dog.

That said, there are many other things that can cause a depressed
immune system, such as stress, fighting an infection, and environmental
allergens.  And food allergies.

What sort of shots is your vet giving your bulldog?  I am not a fan
of prednisone shots because they only treat the symptoms and not
the underlying cause.  And they can contribute to weakening the
immune system.

I would suggest you switch your bulldog to a single protein source food
such as California Naturals or Canidae Lamb Meal and Rice.  The lamb
seems to be easily digested and the only other ingredient is rice.

Lots of people feed their bulldogs Royal Canin, but it’s primary ingredient
is chicken.  Chicken is one of the primary food allergens in dogs (along
with beef, soy, and fish) so I would definitely switch him off of that.

Take a week or two to switch the food, starting with just a small part of the
lamb and rice, then up the proportion slowly until it is all the new food.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if I can help you any further.

Your Bulldog Pal,



More on Dog Food Choices for an Allergic Bulldog

Hiya Jan,

We saw Archies Christmas video, very cute, thanks. As in a previous email I sent, my wife and I have been researching premium dry kibble. We pretty much have decided on Wellness. It is readily avaliable and Old Mother Hubbard sends $5.00 coupons when requested. The only thing that concerns me about Wellness is thier using Rye flour as 1 of the ingrediants. Could you give me your input about this. We were thinking that a 100% grain free food would be best for Brutus due to skin alergys. I dont know if Rye flour is good, bad or indifferant. We have Bru on Eukanuba Medium Puppy and want to switch him to Wellness but we’re not 100% yet. Any comments or feedback you can give us would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again, you are very much appreciated in all that you do to better the breed.

From our Family to Yours … We Wish You The Very Best During this Holiday Season. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Thanks Again,
James, Patty and Bru


Hi James,

Wellness is one of the best foods out there.  It was rated the top dog food by The Whole Dog Journal.  It’s ultimately a matter of the individual dog’s response to the food, but I don’t have a problem with rye (especially since it’s so far down on the list of ingredients), it’s the wheat that’s usually a problem.

Wellness does make a new grain-free formula called Core:

Personally I don’t think grains are bad for a dog, you just don’t want wheat and you don’t want grains to be the first ingredient, you want the first ingredient to be a protein source.  The Wellness Super 5 is a really terrific food, but I can’t give it to Archie because it is too rich for him and he gets soft stools.  Maybe when he’s older.

Let me know what you decide.


Hiya Jan,

I’m sorry to keep bothering you. I really do
appreciate your time and input. Wellness is the food
we plan on going with. In your opinion and considering
our Brutus having sensitive skin issues. We were
looking at the Wellness Fish & Sweet Potato and The
Lamb Super 5 Mix. Which of these 2 do you think would
be better for Bru keeping his skin issues in mind?

Also I’m using my yahoo to send emails because my
bellsouth addy is recieving incoming mail but having
problems with my outgoing.

Once again thank you so much for your opinions and
time. We tell all our bully lovin friends about ya.

James & Patty


Hi James,

My preference on those two would be the lamb Super 5.
The Fish and Sweet Potato is great too but the fish can
cause problems in a dog with food allergies.

The primary food allergens are beef, soy, chicken, and fish
in that order.  Lamb seems to be the safest choice, and
Wellness only uses New Zealand lamb which is raise far
more naturally than lamb in the US.

Your Bulldog Pal,



50 lb Bulldog Puppy – How Big Will He Get?

Hiya Jan,

James here …. wanting to ask you if you heard of this food. >>> Life’s
Abundance Premium Health Food For Puppies & Adult Dogs. I have been doing
research on a premium kibble for our Brutus when we are ready to take him
off puppy food. He is eating Eukanuba Med. Puppy after having some issues
with other puppy foods, we went with what the breeder was using and he is
doing great on it. Also what age do you recommend switching from puppy to
adult food. Brutus is 7 months and 50 pounds. He is in good shape and
exercises daily. I want to make sure we are able to maximize his gowth
potential in his chest and head. Let me know your suggestions and opinions.
Thanks alot.


I enclosed a picture of Brutus, in your opinion should he get bigger in
height & width ?


Hi James,

Thanks for sending the photo of Brutus. He is a very handsome bulldog!
He probably won’t get any bigger in height but he will fill out his width until
he’s a year and a half. Exercise is good because it will build up his muscles.

You can keep him on puppy food for a year. It generally has more
fats and protein for his growing body. So keep him on it for maximum

I have not heard of Life’s Abundance but just did a quick check of the
ingredients. The first ingredient is chicken, so if Brutus is ok with
chicken it looks good. Many dogs are allergic to chicken (my Archie

Eukanuba med is lamb and rice. So you might look into another lamb
and rice formula like Canidae or California Natural if he has food allergies.
Those are what I feed Archie, mixed with a little Wellness or California
Natural canned food.

Here’s a post on food allergies on my blog:

I hope this helps. Please email with any more questions.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Bulldog Interdigital Cysts (growths between the toes)

I haven’t gotten the book yet but I am anxious to know about some problems that my bulldog has. One thing is he has small growths or blisters between his toes on front feet only that do not seem to hurt him but the sometimes burst and bleed a little, and he cleans them up and they seem to subside for a while. Very strange.

Hi Fred
Those growths between his toes are called interdigital cysts. They so seem to have a higher incidence in bulldogs, probably because of their inbreeding. Nobody really knows what causes them, some people think it’s a fungus and some think it’s an ingrown hair. They usually clear up on their own and I am of the opinion they should not be punctured because that can lead to infection. And I wouldn’t go the antibiotic route because I think it not necessary unless there is an infection.

Here is a discussion thread from bulldog owners and breeders on how they treat them:

As for the cysts, I have used part of the process you’ve included: we
usually soak the affected paw in Epsom salts water. I don’t worry about
applying Panalog or other creams unless the vet has recommended it.
Generally with a cyst or any lesion on the paw that I am just starting to
treat, I just start with soaks. That way I clean the foot and can get a
really good look, and Epsom salts helps to soften and start the lesion
draining if it needs to. If it’s a cyst, is there a need for Panalog or
other anti-bacterial (antibiotic) ointments or creams? Not necessarily, only if it’s infected. So, if draining it and/or keeping it clean is enough, then why bring in antibiotics and tinker with resistance and such? If pus drains, then I do use ointment, usually triple antibiotic or Bacitracin. Like you, if soaks (with or without ointment) don’t work in 2-4 days, or if it worsens, it’s off to the vet we go!



What I have found is that many cysts are caused by ingrown hair. I
soak the affected food in Epson salts for about 5 minutes. When drying the paw if you look on the underneath side of the foot between the pads on the toe that is effected you will probably see an area that appears to have a black head. You can usually use a tweezers and pull the hairs out without causing your pet much discomfort. This has always worked on my dogs.


a long coarse of antibiotics usually cephalexin. and give it some time. i
have two that got cysts between the toes and used antibiotics 1 dogs went
away and hasnt come back… the other girls cyst has been back several times
now i dont even put her on antibiotics anymore, i keep it clean use panalog
oint and basically just keep popping the cyst to drain it and within a week
it starts to go away her last cyst i did this and it hasnt been back in over
a year. i am a technician at a vet clinic and ive seen surgeries removing
these cysts and 90% of them ive seen return anyway after several surgeries
and alot of money it is very hard to get all of the stalk inbetween the
toes so you often get regrowth any way…

well thats my 2 cents



There are as many interdigital cyst remedies as there are Bulldoggers.
I think the cysts have multiple causes including fungus advancing to
infection as the cyst develops.

Along that reasoning, I use a Nolvasan Surgical Scrub solution; 5%
Surgical Scrub, 95% water, applied with a spray bottle and massaged onto the
affected area. I apply twice daily and I’ve never had it last more than three

Nolvasan Surgical Scrub is a bit pricey,perhaps $55.00/Gallon, but a
gallon will last a lifetime (Or more) It’s very effective for hot spots and
simple skin problems. Most importantly, It’s an anti-bacterial agent and an
effective fungicide, not an anti-biotic. A simple solution for a complex problem.



I agree with Walt’s solution –

That’s a great idea

I also use a home made concoction we fondly call “Oden’s Foot” It is 50% rubbing alcohol, 50% water – you boil the water and ad 2 heaping tablespoons of salt till it dissolves. Let is cool a bit then mix with the alcohol put in a sprayer bottle and spray several times a day –

this dries up themoisture and the cyst – this is a people remedy given my son when he had severe fungal infections of the toe nails – it works great you just need to be consistent and spray frequently

Kathy J

And here are some links to more information and photos on the topic:

Your Bulldog Pal,


English Bulldog Puppy Food

I was wondering if you could recommend a few good foods for my 4 month old bully. So many not sure what’s best.
–thanks, Wendy


Hi Wendy,

That’s a good question these days, there are so many great foods
out there. And so many who make claims to be great but are not!

Many dogs have food allergies these days, so it’s important to get
a single protein source.

For example, my puppy Archie is allergic to chicken. You will know
if he or she’s allergic because they will have soft stools or throw up
or get little bald spots.

The most allergic food reactions come from:
beef, soy, and chicken, in that order.

Be sure to get a puppy formula and feed according
to instructions on the bag per weight.

Here are some highly recommended brands:
Innova Evo
Blue Buffalo
California Natural
Royal Canin

You can mix in some canned with some dry if you like, I’d
stick to the same protein source.

You want to look for a single protein source (chicken or my favorite
lamb, or turkey, or duck,etc) so if he develops an allergy, it will be easier to

I hope this helps. Please email with any more questions.

Your Bulldog Pal,


Bulldog Yeast Infection in Wrinkles

Hi Jan,
I recently received your bulldog book, and was especially interested in reading
about wrinkle care. I have a 2yr old female, Maizey, and she never had any
wrinkle issues until now (which I realize doesn’t usually become an issue until
they get older), and she doesn’t have many wrinkles…I clean them usually with
baby wipes & I went out and purchased diaper cream & vaseline….because I have
noticed that a couple of them look a little irritated. The diaper cream made it
worse. One of the wrinkles on one side of her face, one of the ones that her
tears seem to run down through…is really sore looking….it’s red looking and
gets dark sticky junk in it. I clean it everyday. I bought a germicidal/
fungicidal spray (for dogs) & also an antibacterial/ pain relief spray (for
people) that I have been using as well. Also her tail I know is definately not
as bad as some bulldogs, but I still try to keep it clean, because it also seems
to get yucky….I always wipe her little butt after she goes potty, because
other wise it gets on her tail & stuck under there ( I have done this since she
was little)….and it seems to have lost the fur on the underside of the tail
(only a liitle spot though, not the whole underside)…I know it has been
bothering her…she seems to run around a liitle like it hurts (she can’t reach
it) & then sits down quick every couple of feet.
I don’t know what to do…I am ready to take her to the vet, for their
suggestions….I HATE the thought of her being uncomfortable or in any kind of
What do you suggest? Do they make a product that is specifically designed for
this? If not, someone should!!!! They would make a killing!
Please let me know what you suggest.
Thank you sooo much,


Hi Courtney,

It sounds like she has a yeast infection in her wrinkles.
That dark stuff that smells sour usually indicates a
proliferation of yeast.

I’d recommend you clean the areas with a sterile eye
wash (you can get it at a drugstore), then dry the areas with
a soft towel. Then rub some anti-fungal cream into the

Anti-fungal cream comes in many forms. I use Monistat
that I can get at the grocery or drug store. You can also
use anti-fungal cream for athlete’s food.

I think the cream would be more effective than the spray you
are using as you can rub the cream into the skin for better absorption.
Apply the cream for a few days and see if it makes a difference.

Diaper cream and vaseline would not be effective against yeast
and the vaseline might seal in the infection and make it worse.
Vaseline is best for cracked paws or a dry nose.

The part under her tail could be the same thing. Her behavior
definitely sounds like it’s bothering her. If she scoots on her
but she could need to have her anal glands expressed. This
could be determined by your vet.

A small loss of fur under her tail is probably nothing to worry
about. It could be a result of the infection. If it gets worse,
then you may need to see a dermatology specialist.

I do think there is a connection between yeast and diet, so be
sure you’re feeding her a premium grade food.

Here’s some more information about yeast (candida) from a pet site:
“Yeasts are single cell organisms, which are found on the surfaces of all living things, including your pet’s body. Yeasts normally live on the mucous membranes of the digestive tract. Unfriendly bacteria, viruses, allergens and other enemies also find their way into other membrane-lined passageways and cavities. Also existing in the body are billions of friendly germs.
One family of yeasts called, Candida albicans, live in your pet’s body, and consume substances such as sugar and fats in order to survive. Yeast toxins affect your pet’s immune system, nervous system, and their endocrine system. Since these systems are all connected, yeast toxins play a major role in causing allergies, vaginal and bladder infections, skin disorders and many other health problems.
When a pet’s immune system is healthy, the body is able to destroy the yeast. However, when the immune system is weak, the yeast may produce in mass amounts causing toxins that disable the immune system and prevent it from functioning properly. In this case, the immune system cannot destroy the yeast. At this point, the system becomes altered causing a host of health problems.
Many pet owners have visited several veterinarians, and have spent hundreds of dollars without any positive results. In a large percentage of cases, a vet has ruled out a yeast infection. However, when the owner began treatment for a yeast infection, the pet responded positively.”
This is quoted from the site in the link below and has more information:
I hope this helps. Let me know if I can help you any further.Your Bulldog Pal,

——follow up——–

Hi Jan,
Yeah, I used to be a vet tech so I know about yeast…but, we really didn’t
have too many English bulldogs that came to the clinics I worked at…so, the
yeast infections I normally dealt with were in the ear.  However, I did have a
feeling this was what it could be…it definately has that “yeasty” smell to
it.  I tried this antifungal/antimicrobial spray stuff for dogs…but it didn’t
seem to work….so, I will have to try an antifungal cream.
Also, I do know absolutely how important diet is!!  I have her on Innova Evo Red
Meat diet- Large bites.  It has no grain, by-products, etc..
I also, was a manager at a family owned pet store many years ago & at that time
had to go through quite a few pet nutrition seminars….but, sooooo much has
changed since then.  I saw this food by Royal Cainin
Anyways, thank you sooooooooooooooo  much for your help.  That really sounds
like a good plan of action, I will give it a try.
She’s not dragging her butt & I checked her anal glands…they do not need to be
expressed.  I just think it’s irritated & is the same problem as her
wrinkles…..yeast I am sure.
Thanks again & I will absolutely let you know how it goes.



Hi Courtney,

Hopefully some cleaning and the cream will do the trick,
sometimes it gets really bad and becomes systemic and
you need to use more drastic measures.

You sound quite knowledgeable!
That Innova is a great product.

Please let me know how it goes.

Your Bulldog Pal


Bald Spots on Bulldog


Currently, our year old
male Jackson has been with a one skin rash that is
round and approximately the size of a small prune
(fruit). This spot especially is hard and flaky. We
have given him a medicated bath and continue to groom
him due to him shedding, but not much near this spot
because he displays that it is tender. Also there are
several spots, much smaller though, around the back of
the neck and couple on the back right upper thigh.
When we brought him into the vet to check these spots,
they pulled a sample of it and put him on Clavamox.
After a lengthy bill, the vet stated that the lab will
watch it for 3 weeks to check to see if there is
anything growing on it. Well, that time has come and
gone as well as the series of medicines. It has been
approx. two months these spots are still present.
Do you have any suggestions? If so, it would be
greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Ryan


Hi Ryan,

There are different causes for these bald spots on a bulldog.
I can’t really tell from your description, but I can give you some

The most common cause for balding is demodex, which is a
mite infestation. A skin scraping should have revealed this.

They could also be pyodermas. There are different types of
pyodermas, and if they are not treated can become systemic.
This may be what your vet suspects and why he prescribed the
antibiotic. A broader spectrum antibiotic may be in order, like Baytril.

There are generally two treatments for pyodermas, depending upon what
type they are. Only a vet can determine the underlying type by doing
skin scrapings.

Pyodermas are caused by different types of bacteria such as staph or
strep. It could be caused by mites (mange) or it could be another

Topical anti-bacterial or anti-fungal medications can be effective
too. Again it depends upon the bacteria present. Monistat, available
at a grocery store or pharmacy without prescription, is effective in
one type of infection. It is important to keep the area clean using a
shampoo such as Chlorhexiderm.

He could also suspect ringworm, which is a fungus. A skin scraping will
also determine whether this is the case. Ringworm is contagious and you
could get it.

Many bulldogs go bald and the most common site for this is on the
sides of the body. Often the baldness is symmetrical on both sides and
the skin underneath blackens. The most likely cause is hormonal or
seasonal alopecia, however it’s worth asking the vet to test Thyroid
function and for Cushings syndrome, especially in dogs that have
recently put on a lot of weight as both of these condition will
initially present as bald sides.

I hope this is of some help. If you don’t have confidence in your
vet, I’d recommend
you take your bulldog to a dermatologist.

Next Page »