How do you know if your French Bulldog has allergies?
French Bulldog allergy symptoms can make it challenging to determine exactly what is causing the symptoms. To further complicate diagnosis, many allergy symptoms remain the same or similar even if the allergen triggers change.
For example, an allergy to a food ingredient and an allergy to an environmental toxin may both produce similar symptoms that manifest on your Frenchie’s skin.
Because of this overlap, you will probably need your canine veterinarian’s help to correctly identify the allergen responsible for your dog’s symptoms.
What you can do in the interim is familiarize yourself with this list of symptoms of allergies in French Bulldogs.
This way, when you see your dog showing signs of any of these symptoms, you know it is time to schedule a visit to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Itching, licking, rubbing or scratching at ears, paws, body or hindquarters
- Recurrent ear infections
- Skin redness or swelling
- Hot spots or lesions that may ooze or weep and scab
- Loss of fur
- Gas, noisy tummy, abdominal pain or bloating
- Lack of appetite
- Reflux or vomiting
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Bloody stools or straining to poop
- Itchy, watering or red eyes
What are French Bulldogs commonly allergic to?
Generally speaking, French Bulldogs are allergic to two types of allergens: environmental allergies and food allergies.
1. Environmental allergies
Environmental allergies are on the rise in both people and pups today. Some researchers believe there is a link to the increasingly urbanized lives that modern dogs and their pawrents lead.
In addition to so-called “natural” allergens such as seasonal pollens, urban living increases exposure to humanmade toxins from cleaning products, fossil fuels and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), processed or genetically modified foods, dust, dander and more.
Intriguingly, research to date has also uncovered another parallel. It seems that allergic dogs are more likely to have allergic pawrents. The data also revealed that the specific allergy symptoms tend to be shared as well.
This is viewed as even stronger confirmation of the link to urban living, since rural pups and pawrents don’t show the same strong correlation.
However, there is also a known genetic (heritable) component to the French Bulldog breed’s susceptibility to environmental allergies.
As French Bulldogs become ever more popular, breeders must breed more and more puppies to keep up with demand. This can reduce both genetic quality and genetic diversity within the breed, leading to a corresponding rise in genetically linked allergies within the breed.
2. Food allergies
What foods cause allergies in French Bulldogs?
There are three main categories of canine food allergens: livestock, fish and plant.
a. Livestock allergens
By far the most common livestock allergen is egg yolk (poultry type not specified), followed by turkey, pork and beef. Interestingly, while both egg white and chicken are commonly blamed for Frenchie food allergies, neither protein source made it into the top four in this category.
b. Fish allergens
In the fish allergen category, capelin (smelt) heads up the list, followed by cod and salmon. Catfish comes in at a distant fourth.
c. Plant allergens
Finally, by far the most triggering plant-based allergen comes from soybeans. Corn, wheat and potato are also common irritants, followed distantly by rice (type not specified).
Researchers are a bit puzzled by why soy triggers canine atopic dermatitis more than other common plant allergens.
However, since soy is known to have cross-reactive properties, it is thought that dogs that have a sensitivity to similar wild plant allergens (such as birch pollen) may also be sensitive to soy.
How can I help my French Bulldog with allergies?
While not all types of French Bulldog allergies can be cured, your dog’s symptoms can definitely be eased and controlled once your veterinarian has made a definitive diagnosis and you know what you are working with.
1. Remove or limit exposure to the allergen
The ideal french bulldog allergy treatment, of course, is to identify and remove the trigger. Alternatively, you at least want to limit your dog’s exposure to the same.
Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done, especially if the trigger is a common component of the environment your dog lives in, such as dust mites or ragweed.
2. Natural remedies
Natural remedies have a lot to offer whether you use them as a standalone remedy or as part of a greater comprehensive veterinary protocol for treating your dog’s allergies.
In some cases, your veterinarian may want you to use a prescription medicated soap or shampoo. Not all dogs tolerate these shampoos well.
You may find your Frenchie has an easier time with an organic, sulfate-free, hypoallergenic shampoo formulated for canine skin pH.
b. Natural supplements
Probiotics aim to feed and support the “good” gut bacteria in your dog’s stomach and intestinal tract. Probiotics can be particularly beneficial for guarding against or treating French Bulldog IBD.
An allergy supplement can also help your dog’s immune system cope with the constant onslaught of potential allergens and seasonal shifts in allergen levels.
Your canine veterinarian may advise following a limited ingredient diet (L.I.D.) for a number of reasons.
The L.I.D. is also a common diagnostic step if the allergen trigger has not yet been identified. This type of controlled diet can be a way to limit exposure to or remove a known food trigger.
Veterinary Treatments For French Bulldog Allergies
There are a variety of veterinary treatments that exist to help ease your French Bulldog’s allergy symptoms and potentially resolve allergen-related health issues.
All veterinary treatment begins with testing. Tests are typically required for a decisive diagnosis. Once your canine veterinarian has a firm diagnosis in hand, it becomes much quicker and easier to outline an appropriate treatment plan.
Allergy tests for dogs can be surprisingly similar to allergy tests for people. Blood, saliva, skin and hair tests can be used to test for a variety of possible allergen triggers. At home tests are also an option.
Corticosteroids are a standard veterinary protocol in treating French Bulldog allergies. In fact, many corticosteroids used for people are also used for dogs.
These medications act to suppress immune system response, essentially ending or at least greatly reducing symptoms like sneezing, itching, swelling and redness.
Antihistamines are another common class of drugs designed to suppress immune system histamine response (hence, anti-histamine).
Here again, many of the same antihistamine medications people use are also used with dogs. This holds true for both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
You now have a big-picture overview of what canine research has learned so far about French Bulldog allergies, symptoms, causes and treatments. While allergies represent a big problem in the French Bulldog breed today, the more you know, the more you can do to help your dog.
As an informed French Bulldog pawrent, you are now equipped to spot any emerging warning signs right away so you can initiate veterinary diagnostic testing and treatment. This type of proactive approach will help your Frenchie enjoy the longest, healthiest possible life with you.