The Bulldog is a wonderful pet that is full of personality. Bulldogs are predisposed to certain diseases, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases we see in Bulldogs.
The bulldog’s unusual appearance arises from a condition known as chondrodystrophy, a form of dwarfism, where cartilage and connective tissue develop abnormally. This leads to increased incidence of decreased growth, twisted bones, and spinal disc calcification. The spinal or intervertebral discs may be more easily injured in these dogs, leading to chronic pain and sometimes loss of function of the legs. The ligaments in chondrodystrophic dogs tend to be weaker than in normal dogs, leading to joint laxity (the joints are less tight and functional, leading to injury, arthritis and pain). Ligaments are supposed to keep the joints together when weight is placed on the legs, but loose ligaments allow too much instability, and this then leads to growth problems, pain and stiffness, even in young dogs.
The biggest problem encountered by almost all Bulldogs involves respiratory conditions. These dogs have small noses, very large tongues, and small breathing passages. These anatomical characteristics make them prone to respiratory conditions and overheating. All Bulldogs are noisy breathers. In spite of this fact, any sign of respiratory disease warrants immediate attention. All exercise should be in moderation and during the cool time of the day, and provide a cool environment when not exercising.
The large amount of loose facial skin can cause a skin infection. Symptoms include an odor coming from the haircoat or moist or inflamed skin. They also get skin allergies and mange, as evidenced by excessive scratching or licking, and hairloss. Since all these different skin conditions have similar symptoms, an accurate diagnosis is needed for proper treatment. At the minimum, all your pet’s skin folds should be cleaned, dried, and have an antibiotic powder applied daily.
A number of eye diseases are common:
- Cherry Eye- protruding gland of the third eyelid, looking something like a round pink cherry in the corner of the eye
- Entropion- the eyelids roll inwards, causing the eyelashes to scrape the cornea
- Distichiasis- an eyelash protrudes abnormally and irritates the cornea
Symptoms of eye disease include redness, discharge, squinting, or pawing at the eye.
A hormone disease called hypothyroidism can occur. If your pet seems lethargic or is putting on weight even though you do not seem to be overfeeding this should be checked with a blood sample.
Shoulder joint laxity causes front leg lameness, eventually causing severe arthritis. Bulldogs are prone to two tumors. One is a skin tumor called a mast cell tumor, the other is a lymph node tumor. Our staff can teach you how to check the skin coat and lymph nodes for indications of these problems.
They are prone to several different heart diseases. They include ventricular septal defect (VSD), aortic stenosis, pulmonic stenosis. Symptoms range from nothing to difficulty breathing, passing out, coughing, and exercise intolerance. This is diagnosed by x-ray and ultrasound.