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How to Care for Bulldogs

The bulldog is a good family pet and gets along well with other dogs. However, it does take very consistent and early training to make this loving dog a great household member. There are ways to make sure your bulldog fits right into your home from the moment you bring him home.

Getting Proper Vet Care for Puppies

1. Adopt your puppy at the right age. A bulldog puppy can find a new home at eight weeks of age. When you adopt the dog from a breeder or shelter, make sure the dog was taken to the vet for his first check up at six weeks. If the dog hasn’t been taken to the vet, take him to the vet immediately.

  • At six weeks, the vet will determine if the puppy has eye or ear problems, check to make sure the palate is okay, listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope to make sure they work properly, and check the belly to make sure there are no hernias.

2. Deworm your puppy. During the first visit to the vet at six weeks, the puppy should have been dewormed. When you adopt him at eight weeks, the puppy will need to be dewormed two to three times more at eight weeks, at 10 weeks, and at 12 weeks.

3. Get your puppy vaccinated. During the dog’s first vet visit at six weeks, the vet should have given him a distemper vaccination. After this initial vaccination, it will be followed by two follow-up vaccinations. Talk to your vet about when your puppy needs the follow up vaccinations.

  • Get your puppy’s rabies vaccination at 12 weeks of age.
  • Your puppy needs to be vaccinated for Lyme disease at 9 weeks of age followed by a second vaccine at 12 weeks of age. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside or that live in endemic areas for Lyme are at increased risk of contracting this potentially fatal disease.

4. Protect your puppy from heartworms. Get a heartworm preventative for your puppy, which is a monthly tablet. This can be started at eight weeks of age.

5. Make sure your puppy is spayed or neutered. The puppy should be either spayed or neutered at six weeks of age. When you adopt your puppy, make sure he is neutered (or spayed, if the puppy is a female). If he is not, take him to the vet to get neutered as soon as possible.

Dealing with Bulldog-Specific Conditions

1. Know that bulldogs have Brachycephalic syndrome. As a consequence of their facial structure with the pushed in face, bulldogs are considered Brachycephalic. This leads to snoring, snorting, and breathing difficulties along with low tolerance for exercise.

2. Keep your bulldog cool. Because of the Bracycephalic syndrome, your bulldog has trouble cooling himself through panting if he gets too hot. Bulldogs should be kept indoors if it is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Because of this, you need to monitor your dog in hot and humid weather. Too much panting can cause swollen and inflamed airways and make it hard for your dog to breathe, and even cause heat stroke. A bulldog is too hot when he is panting too much, heaving, making odd sounds in his throat, foaming from the mouth, fighting for breath, and displaying a floppy, loose, discolored tongue.

  • Never leave your dog unattended in hot weather. Always watch for the signs of overheating. Never leave your bulldog (or any dog) alone in a car during hot or warm weather. This could result in death.
  • Make sure your bulldog has somewhere cool, out of sunlight, and in air conditioning to sleep during the summer.
  • If your bulldog is overheating, remove him immediately from heat. Place him in cool water, pour cool water over his head, and pour cool water on his paws, especially on the pads of his paws. If you can't get him into a tub or a pool, spray him with cool water using gentle pressure. Tile flooring is a good place to place your bulldog to help cool him off. You can also place your bulldog by a fan to help cool him off. Use your hands to spread the fur around to let out some of the heat from his body.
  • Let your bulldog tell you if he is too hot. He should be able to know when he's too hot. Pay attention to the signs he gives you during hot weather. If he wants to go in from a walk, take him inside.
  • If you dog starts to overheat, he may start coughing up phlegm. This is normal; however, it is a sign that your dog is too hot and needs to be cooled down immediately. Remove the bulldog from heat, put lemon juice in his mouth to get rid of the phlegm, place a wet towel on him, and make sure he drinks water.

3. Monitor your dog’s exercise. Too much vigorous exercise can cause breathing problems for your bulldog. However, obesity can also cause breathing problems, so your bulldog still needs to exercise. Just make sure to keep an eye on your dog to make sure he isn’t panting too much or overheating while exercising.

  • When your dog starts to pant during exercise, stop and allow him to rest. Don’t make your dog do too much exercise during hot weather.

4. Be aware of other conditions. Because of your dog’s face shape, there are other conditions that can arise. Your bulldog may have abnormal teeth patterns because of his face shape. He can also be prone to skin infections or abnormal eyelashes that can irritate the eye.

  • Your dog can also be prone to hip and knee problems.

5. Keep an attentive eye on your bulldog. Bulldogs are stubborn and mild dogs. This means your bulldog may not let you know if he is injured, feeling bad, hungry, or cold. Keep an eye on your dog to monitor him. If you notice any changes, find out why.

6. Join the Bulldog Club of America. By joining either the local or national bulldog club, you can connect with other bulldog owners and breeders. This can help you if you ever have questions or need help with your bulldog. This club can also help you find a vet who has experience treating bulldogs, which is important since bulldogs have specific health needs.

Feeding Your Bulldog

1. Feed your dog a balanced diet. Your bulldog will need a high-quality food that is balanced in the nutrients dogs need. Read the ingredient list on the pet food label. If the first two or three ingredients are meat and not meat by-products, it’s probably a high quality food. The dog food label will also give the recommended amount of food to feed your bulldog daily. Use an actual measuring cup to measure this food out to make sure he eats properly for his size, age, and activity level.

  • You can also ask your bulldog’s breeder or your veterinarian for their suggestions.

2. Avoid giving your bulldog soy. When choosing food for your bulldog, do not get food that contains soy. Soy ferments and produces a lot of gas in the bowels, which can predispose the dog to bloat, so its best avoided.

3. Give your dog fresh water. Always remember to leave clean, fresh water out for your bulldog at all times. Clean the water bowl about once a week or even more frequently. Running it through the dishwasher is a good way to sterilize the bowl.

4. Consider a stainless steel bowl. Buy a heavy duty stainless steel bowl. This can help reduce redness and rashes from developing on your bulldog’s face.

Taking Care of Your Bulldog

1. Brush your dog. Your bulldog will need a good brushing with a soft bristled brush once a week. This brushing will remove loose hair and skin flakes, and also encourage good skin circulation.

  • This will also give you time to bond with your dog.

2. Clean the wrinkles. One problem most bulldogs have is dirt and yeast collecting in their skin folds. The wrinkles should be taken care of and wiped out as needed to prevent skin irritation and possible infections. If you fail to clean your bulldog’s wrinkles, he can end up with foul-smelling yeast or infections. Make sure to clean the wrinkles on the face, body, and tail.

  • Use a soft cotton ball soaked in an ear or eye cleaning solution to gently wipe out the fold. Follow this by a gently drying with a clean, soft towel. Don’t use peroxide or alcohol because they can irritate the skin.
  • Follow up by placing cornstarch on the wrinkles to help dry excess moisture.
  • Scabs, redness, or itchy skin should also be addressed by a veterinarian if they persist after being watched for a few days.

3. Trim your dog’s nails. As part of the grooming routine you will need to trim your bulldog’s nails. The biggest problems is to avoid nicking the quick, the part of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves grow. If you aren’t sure how to clip the nails, ask your veterinarian technician to show you how to do so on your dog.

4. Brush your dog’s teeth. Brush your bulldog’s teeth regularly. It takes less than a minute to do this and removes bacteria and plaque from the surface of the teeth. Brushing also lets you check for mouth problems like sores, growths, or loose or damaged teeth.

  • Only use dog toothpaste on a dog. You can purchase a dog toothbrush and toothpaste at pet stores or veterinary clinics.
  • Get your dog used to brushing by letting her lick the dog toothpaste off your finger. Next put a little paste on the brush and wipe it along the gums. Each day try to brush a little bit of the teeth until you work up to being able to brush all the outer surfaces of the teeth. You don’t need to try to brush the inner teeth as most plaque attacks the outer teeth.
  • You can also supplement brushing with dental formulated foods and teeth which help to remove the bacteria and plaque.

5. Socialize your dog. It is vitally important to properly socialize your bulldog when he is a puppy. This gets him used to other people, dogs, pets, and novel situations in a healthy manner. From day one, introduce your bulldog puppy to people, other animals and dogs, and situations outside your home. Take him for car rides, walks around the neighborhood, and to parks to let him meet new people and other dogs.

  • Large pet stores, humane societies, and community groups frequently hold puppy socialization classes. These are a great way for young pups to meet other puppies in a safe and controlled manner. As the puppy gets older, a basic obedience class is a good supplement, plus it teaches your bulldog good manners.
  • You can also take your dog to the dog park.