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Skin Problems in Bulldogs

Skin problems and infections are common in bulldogs. The breed requires constant cleaning – especially in their wrinkles and folds, which should be cleaning daily (at a minimum).

Infections that are not related to parasites or bugs are often difficult to diagnose because of the multiple ways in which your dog can be infected. Skin and food allergies are usually the common culprit. However, your English Bulldogs can also get a skin infection from something bacterial, fungal, or hormonal.

The most common skin issues that appear in English Bulldogs are detailed below. Normally these conditions can be quickly cleared up with simple changes to your dog’s diet. If your bulldog’s diet has changed and you’re still experiences symptoms, the skin can be treated with a topical cream or OTC antihistamines. If a change in diet and/or topical treatments aren’t alleviating the symptoms your bulldog experiences, reach out to your vet for a more suitable treatment option.

Eczema & Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema & atopic dermatitis are, by far, the most non-contagious skin conditions that a bulldog can experience. The most common symptom of eczema is red, itchy, inflamed dry skin. You may also see scabs where your bulldog has scratched at his or her skin. When an outbreak occurs, the skin can become extremely dry and scaly – must more than when your dog is not having an outbreak. As your dog continues to scratch their skin, lumps, bumps, and sores can appear.

Summer months and warmer weather often worsen these conditions. Eczema & atopic dermatitis are usually caused by food or environmental allergies, physical or emotional stress, changes in hormone levels, insect bites, and unsanitary living conditions.

To treat eczema, clean and dry the affected area. Apply a nonmedicated topical moisturizer, ideally, something that will coat the skin and form a barrier to prevent moisture/water loss. Unlike medication, a moisturizing lotion can be used daily and as often as necessary but be sure to check with your vet to confirm you can use it simultaneously with other medications. Flare-ups can be avoided by not allowing the skin to get too dry and identifying & removing factors that can lead to increased dryness. Be sure all bedding is cleaned & changed frequently.

Food allergies are extremely common cause of eczema and atopic dermatitis, so don’t be afraid to change your dogs’ diet to help combat symptoms. Often, a change in your bulldog’s food can slow the onset of symptoms or diminish the condition all together.

When eczema symptoms begin to increase, a topical cortisone cream (1%) can be used to help your bulldog with symptoms. Antibiotics can be given if the scratching becomes out of control, however, antibiotics should only be administered under veterinary supervision. Supplements geared directly toward the skin have also been found to be useful.


Acne is more common in English Bulldogs than most other breeds because their wrinkles make it easy for them to acquire excess dirt and bacteria in their pores. Once dirt enters the pores and stays in there for an extended period, the pores become clogged and sometimes infected. Acne is occasionally occurred by allergic reactions, however, clogged pores from dirt or debris is the most common cause.

Most of the time, these pimples are harmless and only affect the cosmetic appearance of your bulldog’s face, chin, and/or nose area. However, your dog can be really bothered if those pimples become irritated or infected. These infections can be painful and itchy, and you might notice your dog trying to scratch his/her face for relief.

Sample Bulldog Acne

To help stop acne from occurring, always keep your bulldog’s face clean. Wipe the surface and between the folds daily to help avoid the build up of dirt and bacteria. If repeated infections occur, clean with astringent/acne pads after each cleaning (Sweetgrass English Bulldogs recommends Stridex pads if your bulldog has acne. Since they can dry the skin quicker than usual, start with applying Stridex pads every other day after cleaning the area. Gradually increase to once per day if the problem persists). Be sure food and water bowls are cleaned frequently – these are areas your dog frequents and can be a main source of dirt and debris.


Skin and environmental allergies are very common in bulldogs. (Editor’s Note: Many bulldogs are averse to winged birds such as chicken, so a fish-based diet is recommended for most dogs.) Food allergies and environmental allergies are often hard to determine because both will present themselves the same way – dry itching skin, possible redness, and biting/scratching.

Sweetgrass English Bulldogs recommends adjusting your dog’s diet first to remove a possible source of allergens. Check your bulldog’s current food and find a new food with a different main ingredient. If your dog is still having issues after you change their food, try looking for other environmental allergies and eliminating those one by one.

Hot Spots

Most English Bulldogs will get hot spots at one point in their life – with their vulnerability to skin problems, and their short hair, they are much more susceptible than most breeds. Bulldogs can often get hot spots around the tail if it’s short and curls partly into their backside. Unlike allergies or eczema, hot spots are normally round with no hair and cause your bulldog to experience extreme itching. You might even see them trying to scratch these spots on the ground or on other hard/rough surfaces. Hot spots often flare up in warmer months and subside in cooler months.

Hot spots can be caused by a multitude of things, including allergies, mites, ear infections, problems with their anal gland, and/or improper grooming/cleaning. Spots can start of small and quickly double or triple in size in a matter of hours. It’s important to note that hot spots are often worsened by your bulldog trying to scratch them – the itching is so intense for them, they will scratch until they feel relief, and it will often cause the hot spots to grow and spread.

To treat hot spots, a bulldog owner must first find the cause of the reaction, which is often difficult. Once the source of the reaction is removed, the hot spot itself can be treated. Keeping your dog’s hair trimmed, giving them frequent baths with a moisturizing shampoo, and following a year-round flea control program will help with frequent flare-ups.

If possible, cut or shave all the hair around the hot spot – this will allow increased airflow to the area and will help it to heal faster. Clean the area with a hot spot treatment and monitor your dog for continued itching. Don’t be afraid to clip toenails and use socks, or the dreaded cone/blow-up collar to ensure your bulldog doesn’t continue to scratch at his or her hot spots. If these treatments don’t help, reach out to your vet for a more suitable treatment option.


The information in this post expresses the opinion and recommendations of the owner of Sweetgrass English Bulldogs. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional veterinarian advise, and Sweetgrass English Bulldogs is not responsible or liable for any loss or damages as a result of implementation or instructions of the above article. Sweetgrass English Bulldogs is not a licensed veterinarian, does not claim to be, and the information contained in this article should not be accepted as such. Please use common sense and contact your veterinarian if you are concerned with issues affecting your bulldog.

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