Skin irritation has a variety of causes, including acquired disease, genetic conditions and environment. Because of their wrinkles and loose skin, English bulldogs are more likely to suffer friction-related skin irritation than other breeds of dog. Fortunately, by examining your dog you can spot skin irritation symptoms and causes before they become too serious.
Healthy Bulldog Skin
The skin of an English bulldog should be smooth and soft. The skin around the face is naturally loose and wrinkled, but not to the degree that it hangs from the face. Dark patches, especially on the belly and legs, are natural and no cause for alarm. The coat is short and evenly distributed over the back, face, legs and paws. The belly is slightly less coated and you should be able to see the skin through the hair. Any odor, redness, flakiness, greasiness or inconsistency of tone and texture could be a sign of skin irritation.
Causes of Irritation
Some skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, can affect any breed. But the bulldog is at higher risk of certain other skin complaints that cause irritation, including skin wrinkle infections caused by excessive heat and friction in the folds, seborrhoea, which causes skin to become excessively oily or dry, and dermatitis, which causes itchy inflammation. English bulldogs as a breed are no more likely to get skin cancer than other breeds. However, dogs with all white coats are highly prone to skin cancer. Because many English bulldogs are all white, you should be vigilant and check for the signs, which include irritation, discoloration, raised skin surface and bleeding. Parasites, such as fleas and ticks, can cause localized skin irritation.
Constant scratching, rubbing, biting or chewing are classic signs that your English bulldog is experiencing skin irritation. Odor, especially around the face, ears, groin and stomach, can point to skin irritation problems.
For less severe conditions, such as minor skin wrinkle infections and hot spots, use a cotton cloth and medicated soap to clean the skin. To prevent against skin cancer, use sunscreen when the dog is outside. You can treat allergy related skin irritations with an elimination diet. Remove one thing from the diet each week and observe the condition of the skin until you identify a cause. If the cause is not dietary, examine your household routine. For example, air fresheners, new detergents and even perfume can cause allergies. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
For more severe problems, your vet will be able to help. The vet might fix chronic skin wrinkle infections by performing a minor surgical procedure to tighten up the skin and reduce the depth of the wrinkles. For chronic or severe allergies, your vet will perform a skin scrape or a blood test to determine the cause. In cases of severe dermatitis, your vet likely will prescribe oral or topical medicines. Your vet will treat parasite-related skin irritation with a combination of medicated soap or cream to treat the irritation, medicine or manual removal to get rid of the parasites and vaccination against further infestation.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.