How To Treat Skin Allergies, Irritation & Hot Spots in English Bulldogs
It’s that time of year…or maybe it’s many times of the year for your English Bulldog! Skin allergies, irritation, hair loss and hot spots are something that most owners of these breeds will deal with at some point.
And with summer upon us, this can be the worst time of year. Starting in late spring, as the natural shedding process begins, these types of dogs are most prone to problems with their skin.
So what do you do when your Bulldog is suffering from skin irritation, allergies and hot spots?
Well, the first step is to determine the exact cause. You’ll need to know exactly what is causing the irritation, whether it’s simply allergies, or something more serious, like mites (mange), or bacteria, in order to treat it properly.
Determining The Cause
You’ll want to make an appointment with your Veterinarian to have a sample of skin tested at the first sign of hair loss, redness and/or irritation. This is to determine if mange/mites are present.
If mange is not the cause, additional testing will then be done to see if the irritation is a form of fungal or bacterial infection of the skin. This can start with a very small cut or scrape, and can turn into an extreme source of redness, swelling and hair loss.
If bacteria (i.e. staph infection) is the diagnosis, the areas will need to be kept very clean with antibacterial soap and/or a solution of Iodine (preferred) and treated regularly with Vetericyn Wound Spray until fully healed. This is very effective and is available at any Farm and Home store. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to help fight the infection from the inside.
If you are treating a ‘moist’ hot spot, in which the area looks wet and/or bloody, cleaning with Iodine, followed by body powder, is very effective. Just be sure to carefully follow the directions provided on the bottle. After applying the Iodine, blot the area with a towel and allow it to air dry for 5-10 minutes. You will then want to apply a liberal amount of medicated body powder, such as Arm & Hammer, to reduce the moisture and alleviate itching.
Dealing With Allergies
If both mites and bacteria are ruled out as the cause of irritation, then (and only then!) do you know that you are simply dealing with some type of skin allergy. I would recommend first considering the type of dog food that you are feeding.
Bulldogs and Bordeaux are both diet-sensitive when it comes to the health of their skin and coat. A simple change in diet alone can cause hair loss and irritation. This is especially true if the new food lacks certain vitamins and minerals needed for skin and coat health in these breeds.
The Best Type Of Food
Many years ago (long before breeding), we went through about a six-month period of trying several different brands of dog food. Each brand seemed to lack some of the nutrients needed (one caused dull coats, another loose stools, etc.) until we began feeding Diamond.
For our adult Bulldogs and Bordeaux, Diamond Premium has seemed to be the best. However, for our puppies, we begin the weaning process with Iams Smart Puppy food, and recommend using it until at least six months of age, before switching to Diamond.
Keep Baths To A Minimum
Baths are another huge factor when it comes to skin problems and irritation with both of these breeds. Believe it or not, even though our dogs live in the house, we only thoroughly bathe them (with a very mild shampoo) every few months. Being as sensitive as they are, we have found that limiting their baths makes a huge difference.
Over-bathing (more than once a month) is a sure way to see loss of hair, irritation and allergies. Most dog shampoos have oil-stripping ingredients, which is very unhealthy for these oily skinned dogs. The oil on their coats and skin is very important to their overall health and removing it can cause a wide range of problems.
In addition to oil-stripping ingredients, many shampoos contain perfumes and other chemicals that can be harmful to their coat condition. Even some ‘Bulldog’ specific shampoos contain harsh chemicals that can easily cause allergies and severe irritation.
When A Bath Is A Must
When you absolutely HAVE to bathe more frequently (like after they have been playing in the mud), there is one effective approach that we use to keep irritation to a minimum. Allow them to sit in their Night Crates for about an hour first. This allows them to remove a large amount of the mud and dirt themselves. Since we have the ‘luxury’ (if that’s what you call it) of concrete floors, the mess this can create is not much of a problem.
Giving them this hour before their bath, you’ll find that most of the dirt is knocked off into the pan, allowing for a quicker, easier and less-soap-needed bath. I always start by rinsing as much as it off as possible before using any type of soap.
If there are still spots that I feel need a bit more work, I use only dime size amount of puppy shampoo (rubbed in my hands first) and wash only the areas that actually need soaped up!
Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!
Rinse the soap off as soon as possible…and rinse them very well!
Let the water run on them for as long as possible. Do your best to make sure that every bit of soap is thoroughly rinsed off. Start at the top of the head and then rinse down their backs. Then, paying very close attention, rinse the area under their chin, down their chest and under their bellies very well. These areas are very sensitive as it is, and are many times the least rinsed areas on their bodies, which in itself can cause irritation!
Once rinsed thoroughly from nose to tail, lightly blot any wrinkles and bellies with a clean, dry towel. Then allow them to air dry if possible. Excessive rubbing with a towel can increase irritation as well. After air drying for at least 30 minutes, you can lightly dab any folds and wrinkles again to ensure that you have removed any water to prevent bacteria.
Be Careful With Cleaners
Another consideration when you see any type of redness or general areas of irritation on your dog, is the possibility of environmental factors. Things from the cleaners used on their night crates (make sure to always rinse crates thoroughly) and detergent used to wash their beds; to general household cleaners used on your floors, can cause irritation and in extreme cases, sores and hair loss.
Chemicals outside can also cause a range of skin problems. Bug spray, weed killers and even lawn fertilizers can cause irritation and patches of hair loss.
Vitamins and Shampoos
Another option, in combination with the above, are vitamins and shampoos that can improve skin condition to reduce irritation and hair loss. Products such as Skin and Coat Supplement for Dogs, which contain important Omega 3 oils, vitamins and amino acids, are great supplements to their diet.
For a more aggressive treatment, shampoos like Zymox, an antibacterial shampoo, helps to soothe and treat hot spots and other common skin issues quickly and easily.
Overall, keeping your English Bulldog on a quality food, and limiting baths, will help keep their skin and coat in optimal health. These two things will reduce the chances of hot spots and problem skin. Also, keeping them clear of any chemicals, or possible soap or shampoo residue, is important to avoid irritation and allergies in these dogs.