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

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Bulldog Thefts are Very Real Threat

No one wants to think of the possibility that their English or French Bulldog could be stolen, but it happens regularly.  These dogs are expensive and thieves think they can make a quick buck stealing them or worse turning them into breeding machines.  Here are some helpful tips on prevention and recovery of stolen Bulldogs:

Here’s a short list of things that owners can do to help protect their dogs against theft, and ways to help increase your chances of getting your dog back if they are stolen.Microchip your dog.

Without a chip, we would never have gotten Ruby back after she was stolen. A microchip will be almost universally accepted by most law enforcement and shelters as positive proof of ownership. Make SURE to keep your microchip contact information up to date. If you move, or change your phone number, notify the company which maintains your chip’s database. A chip can’t help if the company can’t reach you.

Put a tag on your dog with your phone number and a notice that your dog is microchipped. Provide your microchip manufacturer’s 800 phone number on the tag, in case they are picked up by an individual, or a shelter without a chip reader.Keep your dog’s chip number and other identifying information on file someplace in your house – and also on your cell phone.

Keep two or three accurate, up to date photographs of your dog on file, for use on missing posters and email list. A head shot, a body shot, and a shot showing any easily identifiable markings or patterns. I can’t tell you how many people contact me about missing Frenchies who do NOT have photos they can also supply.

Consider adding a note on your dog’s tag about a ‘special medical condition’ – and about a reward for their return.

Downplay your dog’s value to strangers, tradespeople and overly interested parties. Anyone who asks you too many pointed questions about the worth of your dog should be treated with suspicion. It might hurt your ego to refer to your dog as “Just a worthless neutered pet with bad knees and a horrid case of worms”, but if it keeps them safe, play it up.

In particular, make it really clear that your dog is FIXED. A dog who can’t be bred is a dog who is worth less money.Breeders should think twice about having obvious signs outside their property advertising that you have purebred dogs in your house.

Keep kennels, runs and yards screened from the street, keep breed specific paraphernalia outside the house to a minimum, and signs about ‘puppies available’ does anyone do this anymore? are a definite no.

Don’t leave dogs unattended in yards – I know of a few Frenchies who have been stolen by someone simply unlatching the gate, walking inside and picking up the dog, all while their owner was home inside of the house. Put simple locks on gates that allow people access to your yards.

via French Bulldog Thefts

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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.

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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.

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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

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Introducing Your Bulldog to Your New Baby

Hi Jan
My wife and I are having our first baby in a few months and we were wondering if having a bulldog around a newborn is a good idea. If you could give me any advice on whether bulldogs are in general good around babies or we risk to have a big problem.

Hi Pablo,

If your Bulldog has a nice disposition, gets along with dogs & people, especially infants, and has not shown territorial aggression, you should have no problems. In general Bulldogs are very good with families.

Keep in mind your Bulldog has probably been the center of attention in the house and now will have a “sibling” come into the pack. He probably knows something’s going on because of your excitement about the upcoming birth.

There are ways to introduce them to ease any stress the new baby presents. Be sure to give him the usual attention, keep the routine as normal as possible including meal times and walks, praise him for being good. If he’s currently well mannered and obedient things will be easier. Be sure to stay calm since he’ll pick up on your behavior and supervise him.

“An infant is the ultimate wild-card for a dog,” says Jennie Willis Jamtgaard, owner of Animal Behavior Insights and instructor at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“It is a big transition for everyone and preparing ahead of time is really the key — when a baby comes home, that is not the time to start to work with the dog,” Jamtgaard adds.

Beaver and Jamtgaard agree there are not one, but two important transitions that occur when a baby arrives: first, the initial introduction, and, second, when the baby becomes mobile.

While toddlers tend to antagonize their pets out of healthy curiosity and can set the stage for the most severe accidents, more tension tends to be associated with the initial introduction. Experts say it is best to begin training the dog as soon as you know you are expecting.

Make sure you work on the basics, such as sit, stay, not barking or pulling on a leash before the baby comes into the picture, says Jamtgaard. “If the dog is not behaved without the baby, of course it’s going to be more difficult once the baby is around,” she says.

Here’s an article written by Bulldog owners with a new baby on how they did it: http://vivyland.com/articles/bulldogandbaby.htm

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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:

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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.

FOODS
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.

PLANTS
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.

Carnations.

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.

Hydrangea.

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.

OTHER OUTDOOR AGENTS
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.

COFFEE, BOOZE, AND CIGARETTES
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.

MEDICINES
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.

SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR
Excessive thirst
Lethargy
Panting or shallow breathing
Seizures
Vomiting/diarrhea

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

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Want to Keep Your Bulldog Around Forever?

Warm Hearts and Freeze-Dried Pets

It looks like now we can keep our beloved pets forever.  There appears to be a growing industry specializing in the preservation of our “best friends” by freeze drying them.

And there is an entire tv show on Animal Planet called ‘American Stuffers’ devoted to the subject:

while taxidermy is merely fascinating, pet preservation, as the practice of memorializing pets by freeze-drying them is more delicately described, makes for truly riveting television. What a narrative: there are the grieving owners, invariably in tears; the stricken animal (frozen, not in the rictus of death, but in actuality, as Mr. Ross asks that deceased pets be kept chilled until they are brought to him); and the epic life story of each pet (like Chatters, the 40-pound raccoon, who gnawed cabinetry and snuggled in bed, or Sam, the bad-tempered Chihuahua, who ate toenail clippings).

Then, months later, because freeze drying takes time (up to six months for large animals like dogs, though the show telescopes that process into minutes), there is the spectacular reveal, as Mr. Ross, a former auto body specialist, presents his deft handiwork: the pet, revivified. (Well, almost.)

“Freeze-drying love,” as the show’s teaser promises. “One pet at a time.”

It seems to me that most of the attachment to my bulldogs is their personality, the way they come up to greet me, the click click click on the hardwood floor.  But some of us may want to just keep what’s left of them around forever.

You can read the entire article here: ‘American Stuffers’ Family – Warm Hearts and Freeze-Dried Pets – NYTimes.com.

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Genetics of the Bulldog Reveal Surprising Relatives

Recent advancements in genetic testing have revealed which dog breeds are closely related.  It is well known historical theory that the Bulldog was bred from the Mastiff.  Early illustrations of fierce Bulldogs reveal their similarity to the Mastiff.  When bull baiting was banned in England the Bulldog almost disappeared.  Fortunately for us the breed was saved and the present day incarnation was formed.

Early bull baiting bulldogs

Bulldog Puppy from 1903

Bulldog Puppy 1903

Bulldogs Play with a Ball

Contemporary Bulldogs

We can thank Victorian England with it’s passion for dog shows as a favorite passtime for the revival of our breed. Now genetic testing has revealed the close proximity of the Bulldog not only to the Mastiff, Bull Terrier, French Bulldog, and Boxer as well as some surprises.  A portion of the study defines our group:

The new third cluster consisted primarily of breeds related in heritage and appearance to the Mastiff and is anchored by the Mastiff, Bulldog, and Boxer, along with their close relatives, the Bullmastiff, French Bulldog, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Perro de Presa Canario. Also included in the cluster are the Rot- tweiler, Newfoundland, and Bernese Mountain Dog, large breeds that are reported to have gained their size from ancient Mastiff-type an- cestors. Less expected is the inclusion of the German Shepherd Dog. The exact origins of this breed are unknown, but our results suggest that the years spent as a military and police dog in the presence of working dog types, such as the Boxer, are responsible for shaping the genetic background of this popular breed.

If you want to read the entire scientific study, go here.

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Why Does My Bulldog Have Long Ears?

JAN I ENJOY ALL YOUR EMAILS AND THEY ARE VERY INFORMATIVE BUT WHAT CAUSES THE BULLDOG TO HAVE LONGER EARS THAN MOST OR WHATS THE COMMON LENGTH AND BY THE WAY MERRY X MAS

Hi Rodney,

Merry Christmas to your family and Gracie

Interesting question.  The ears are longer because of the original breeding of various dogs to produce the Bulldog, including the Mastiff which was in the “working” group of dogs that have long ears to help them “stir up the scent” when they track.  The Bulldog was also bred from terriers which have short ears as they were bred for “ratting” and controlling vermin.

The modern Bulldog is between these two extremes and the Bulldog standard requires that “the ears should be set high in the head, the front inner edge of each ear joining the outline of the skull at the top back corner of skull, so as to place them as wide apart, and as high, and as far from the eyes as possible. In size they should be small and thin. The shape termed “rose ear” is the most desirable. The rose ear folds inward at its back lower edge, the upper front edge curving over, outward and backward, showing part of the inside of the burr. (The ears should not be carried erect or prick-eared or buttoned and should never be cropped.)

Your Bulldog Gracie may appear to have longer ears because they do not have the “rose ear” shape that stands half way up (my Archie has one floppy ear).  Some dogs come out this way, more like the Mastiff.

for more info on the Bulldog Standard, go to http://www.akc.org/breeds/bulldog/

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Bulldog Puppy Socialization

I get a lot of questions that relate to Bulldog puppy behavior. Some people are very protective of their puppies and I can understand why, given the high costs and numerous health risks. But it is very important to expose your bulldog puppy to other dogs and positive outside experiences so he or she will not be a fearful (think aggressive) adult. This is from the Whole Dog Journal newsletter, a great source of dog information.

Puppy Socialization

The best socialization programs begin while pups are still with their dams. A good breeder begins handling her pups gently and early, just as their eyes begin to open, giving them a positive association with human touch.

As they get a little older (5-6 weeks) they should start meeting more humans – all shapes, colors, ages, and sizes – who feed them treats and pet them gently. The breeder will need to supervise these interactions closely, as rough handling at this stage can have the opposite effect, teaching the pups that humans aren’t safe to be around.

The mother dog’s attitude is important at this stage, too. If she is aggressive toward humans, or even just stressed about her pups being handled, the pups can register her attitude and learn this inappropriate behavior. If Mom is calm and relaxed around humans, pups are more likely to be, too.

By the time a pup is weaned at 7 to 8 weeks, he should already have a positive worldview programmed into his little puppy brain. When you select your pup from a litter, whether you’re at a breeder’s home or a shelter – or picking one from a box of free puppies on a street corner – choose wisely.

Resist the temptation to rescue the pup who hides in the corner. Select, instead, the pup who is outgoing without being overbearing – the one who seems to have a cheerful, “Life is good!” attitude. Otherwise you risk finding yourself in the Peterson’s shoes, with an 11-month-old dog who is biting children in the face.

Okay, you’ve adopted a friendly pup with a sound temperament. Good for you! That doesn’t mean your job is done, however.

You must continue your pup’s socialization lessons assiduously until he is 16 weeks old, and then maintain his positive association to the world throughout his life. If you take an 8-week-old well-socialized pup and stick him in your backyard with no outside exposure, the odds are good that you will end up with a problem.

The health dilemma

Puppy owners are often counseled by their veterinarians to keep their baby dogs cloistered safely at home until they are fully immunized at age 4 to 6 months.

Looking at the situation purely from a physical health perspective, this makes good sense. You certainly don’t want to risk exposing your pup to nasty distemper or parvo bugs.

From a mental health perspective, however, it’s horrible advice. You only have two to three more months to give your pup an unshakable faith in the goodness of the world. You cannot afford to wait until those shots are done.

During this period, you want to give your pup at least 100 new positive exposures and experiences, to “vaccinate” him against the possibility that he will feel compelled to bite someone, someday. It’s not a guarantee against biting, but it’s by far your best chance of ending up with an adult dog who is friendly and safe.

Fear periods

At one time in the last several decades, much ado was made about a pup’s “critical fear periods.” Behaviorists attempted to pinpoint those periods of time in puppyhood during which a “bad experience” would scar a pup’s psyche for life.

More recently, we have come to realize that, although pups do seem to go through periods during which they are more fearful than others, that time can vary from one pup to the next. Rather than wrapping your pup in cotton wool for a designated period, it makes more sense to watch him closely and ensure that he has mostly good experiences, especially if he seems to be going through a cautious stage.

Even if something does frighten him, it’s not the end of the world – you can set up a counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D) program to restore a positive association with that particular stimulus, and your pup should recover nicely.

Lifetime socialization

Now your pup is 16 weeks old. You’ve reached the end of that magic socialization window, your “100 exposures” list is all checked off, and your pup loves the world. Are you done? Hardly.

Like your training efforts, which continue on into adulthood and throughout your dog’s entire life, you are never done with socialization. You’ve laid a very solid foundation; that’s something to be proud of.

Much of that will be lost, however, if you toss your four-month-old pup into the backyard and cease all exposure to humans and their complex society.

He still needs to meet and greet people, go places with you, and continue to share your world and your experiences, if you want him to continue to be the happy, friendly puppy he is today. And, of course, that’s what you want!

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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.

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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.

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What the Dogs Ate – X-Rays of Stuff in Dogs’ Stomachs

If you think your Bulldog won’t eat anything other than food, take a look at these x-rays of things dog ate from the annual contest called “They Ate What? 2011 X-ray Contest Winners” from Veterinary Practice News.  Bulldog lovers will like the last entry 😉

Pay attention to why the owners brought their dogs into the vet so you can learn some of the symptoms of your dog eating a foreign object.

I’m only showing the two Bulldog entries:

A 6-month-old bulldog, Tinkerbell, ate a training collar off another bulldog in their house.  The owners had no idea until she ate a second metal slip collar and then proceeded to become seriously ill.  Doctors were surprised to find two slip collars in her stomach.

And my personal favorite.

Prince Edward, a 9-year-old bulldog, ate his owner’s false teeth when he found them in a bowl that had ice cream in it. The teeth were returned to the owner and she is smiling again!

Bulldog that ate false teeth

To see the rest of the entries visit the Veterinary Practice News website

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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 ,

Marisa

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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.

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Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings- Beware

I recently saw an ad for “anesthesia-free dental cleaning” at my local dog specialty store here in Colorado and signed up because I fear putting my Bulldog Archie under for a dental cleaning.  He tolerated the procedure well but I have to say I was not that impressed with the cleaning.  And the cost was high: $155.

Today I read this!  And now I’m convinced it was not a wise decision.

I recently saw an ad posted on a billboard for a local feed supply company: Anesthesia Free Dentals $155. Two things struck me about this announcement:

1. The questionable legality of the procedure

2. The cost

Colorado (and most states as far as I’m aware) place dentistry under the classification of the practice of veterinary medicine. This means that only a licensed veterinarian, or a technician under the supervision of a veterinarian, can perform dental procedures on pets.

Posing as a “typical” dog owner, I called the feed supply company to ask a few questions and was given the name of the organization that provides this service for them. I looked up their website and learned that a veterinarian is on their staff, so if she were to be performing the procedures, they would be legal. The other employee that is listed underwent some training in anesthesia-free dental cleanings, but as far as I could tell was not a licensed veterinary technician. If she were to clean a pet’s teeth under the supervision of a vet, I think it would be legal (the language in the statute is kind of vague … the technician needs to be “trained” but I can’t find where he or she definitely needs to be “licensed.”) If she were to be treating dogs and cats without a veterinarian present, however, she would be on the wrong side of the law.

Even if these clinics are legal, they have questionable value to the pets that partake in them. The most important part of a dental cleaning is the removal of plaque and tartar from underneath the gums and the complete examination of the entire mouth (including probing for pockets underneath the gum line and even radiographs in many cases). While the website claims that their operators can clean underneath the gum line, I find it very hard to believe they can do this with any kind of thoroughness in an awake dog … to say nothing of an awake cat! The website makes no mention of probing and admits that they cannot take X-rays. Without these diagnostic tools, very serious diseases that “hide” under the gums will be missed.

Another concern is that dental instruments are sharp! I shudder to think of what might happen to a pet’s mouth if he or she were to move suddenly while a dental scaler was being used.

I am sure that a dog or cat’s teeth look better after one of these procedures, but I doubt that their mouths are actually much healthier. The website I looked at recommends that the anesthesia-free procedure be repeated every 3-12 months, depending on a pet’s condition. For a purely cosmetic procedure, $155 is a lot to spend that frequently. I think these pets would be better served if their owners saved the $155 and sprung for a real dental cleaning when they had enough in the bank.

Anesthesia is scary, I understand that. But, under most circumstances (even when pets are being managed for some types of chronic disease), it can be done very safely. Veterinarians can use nerve blocks so that the level of general anesthesia needed is actually very light, even if teeth need to be removed. This helps pets maintain good blood pressure, cardiac output, etc., and decreases the risk of complications.

If you want to talk to a dental specialist about your pet’s care, take a look at listing of board certified veterinary dentists provided on the American Veterinary Dental College’s website, or ask your primary care vet for a referral.

Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings | petMD.

Granted the cost of anesthesia cleaning is higher but it is much more thorough and vets are much more mindful of Bulldog issues now that the breed is so popular.  Next time I’ll just take Archie to my vet or to Fort Collins vet school.

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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.

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Overweight Bulldog Cannot Breathe

I need some advise…. For some time now our bulldog Buster has been suffering from breathlessness when doing very little exercise, sores on his feet and NOT wanted to go out. He is picked on by other dogs often when he does go out even though he does nothing to justify being picked on.  He has obviously taken him to the vet for answers and we have found out he is approximately 36kg, apparently quite a lot overweight. From taking him to the vet he was referred to a specialist based on strange blood results, an xray showing a potential enlarged heart and a echo something or other showing a potentially strange heartbeat. The specialist is saying his heart is perfect, nothing to worry about, he does not have heart/lung worm which he is being treated with as a precaution but thinks he may have a problem with his throat and possibly needs his soft palette reducing to help with his breathing. My question is, should I give him time to lose some weight or go ahead with the recommended surgery of throat and soft palette surgery?  If he wasn’t so over weight as has been suggested would he even be presenting with the symptoms in the first place. I don’t want to rush into surgery if all he needs to do is lose weight…..

Anita

Hi Anita,

Some Bulldogs have breathing that is so compromised it becomes a danger to their health.  If Buster cannot get enough oxygen due to soft palate problems then he may need surgery.  If he suffers fainting spells or his gums are constantly bluish in tone you may not want to wait.

If he is not in immediate danger then I’d recommend you put him on a diet and see how he does when he’s a proper weight.  Cut down his food and give him NO treats unless they are vegetables.  An overweight Bulldog has extra stress put on his heart which when combined with an already compromised breathing/cooling system is a recipe for disaster.  Don’t feel bad if he looks hungry – you are saving his life.

Consult your specialist about how urgent his breathing problems are.  From what you say it sounds like his main problem is he’s overweight and it’s true that a correct weight may reduce his distress significantly.

Here’s a photo of my Archie – you can see his waist indents just behind his ribs. You want to be able to see a waist on him when you look down from above. I exercise him daily and keep him trim.

A healthy Bulldog has a waist

As he loses weight you’ll be able to walk him more.  Start slowly and stop if he starts to breathe heavily.

Concerning his being picked on. Is Buster neutered?  I have found that intact dogs do get picked on by other dogs.  Otherwise he may be timid or lack confidence (each dog has it’s unique personality)  and they sense that.  A trainer could help you work on this.

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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?

Thanks,

Carol

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.

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