Bladder Cystitis in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Bulldog cystitis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the bladder.  It’s crucial to understand that inflammation of the urinary tract does not always indicate an infection.

Urinary Bladder Inflammation Versa Infection

While many cases of cystitis are caused by or worsened by urinary tract infections, there are times when it is a sterile condition with no detectable pathogens in the urine sample. This sterile inflammation can result from various factors, and other underlying conditions unrelated to bacterial infection.

Other contributing factors can also serve as a trigger for cystitis in bulldogs; examples are:

  • Non-infectious irritation
  • Autoimmune reactions
  • Bladder stones
  • Diverticula
  • Tumors
  • Polyps

Bulldog cystitis is usually due to an infectious bacterial origin (a UTI).

Bulldog Large Infected bladder

Cystitis in Bulldogs/ ANATOMY & FUNCTION:

Bulldogs and French bulldog’s kidneys filter their blood and produce urine. This urine is then transported down the ureters and collected in the bladder. The bladder serves as a storage reservoir for urine, capable of stretching to accommodate the volume of urine produced before it is voluntarily emptied.

Bladder Cystitis in Bulldogs / CAUSE:


While urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common cause of cystitis, there can be instances where cystitis is termed “sterile” because it doesn’t have a bacterial origin. This can occur for various reasons, such as non-infectious inflammation, autoimmune reactions, or other underlying conditions.


Most bacterial cystitis is due to ascending infection from feces but in bulldogs, skinfold moist infectious dermatitis is likely the most common source. Skinfold infections in that region include infected tail pockets, and most commonly, female bulldogs suffer from vaginal skinfold dermatitis:

French Bulldog ulcerative hooded vulva


Prostatitis and other prostatic disease in male bulldogs can imitate bacterial Cystitis


Bladder stones and urinary stones generally induce inflammation, manifesting as cystitis. While they frequently coincide with bacterial infections, they can also occur without bacterial involvement, termed sterile presentation. While some stones are the byproduct of bacteria (Struvites), others have a genetic or metabolic origin (urate, cystine).

bladder bulldog cystotomy and cystine stone removal


Bladder polyps and benign, locally aggressive, and malignant bladder tumors are bound to cause cystitis.


Excessive use of cortisones (steroids ) as medication for various medical conditions can cause infectious cystitis due to their immune suppression adverse effects.


Hormonal diseases have the potential to compromise the immune system, creating a local environment that lacks sufficient immune defenses and is conducive to pathogen colonization.

Cushing's Syndrome in French Bulldog


Stress and persistent anxiety have the potential to undermine your bulldog’s immune system and disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome. These effects may intensify during stressful situations such as boarding, traveling, or experiencing separation anxiety.

Cystitis in Bulldogs / DIAGNOSTIC TEST:

  1. Urine analysis (urine pH, WBC, RBC, crystals, etc)
  2. Urine culture
  3. Urine cytology
  4.  Blood test (kidney function, sugar, blood count, hormonal levels)
  5. Radiographs (stones, tumors, polyps)
  6. Ultrasound (structural abnormalities, stones)

bulldog urinary collection for urine analysis

Generally, I recommend a urinalysis as well as a urine culture.

Radiographs and ultrasounds are also very helpful in detecting urinary stones and other structural abnormalities.

Bladder Cystitis in Bulldogs / SYMPTOMS:

Identifying the signs of cystitis is relatively straightforward. Bulldogs affected by this infection often exhibit:

  1. PAIN & DISCOMFORT: Bulldog cystitis can cause varying levels of pain and discomfort, particularly during urination.
  2. HEMATURIA (blood in urine): Your French or English bulldog may have red-colored urine due to injury to the kidney, bladder wall, or urethra.
  3. DISCOLORED & FOUL-SMELLING URINE: Your bulldog’s urine may have an unusual odor or appear cloudy.
  4. STRAINING & FREQUENT SQUATTING: Your bulldog may strain while attempting to urinate, producing only a small amount of urine, or may show an increased frequency in their urge to urinate.
  5. INCONTINENCE: Your bulldog may experience incontinence, resulting in accidents around the house.

cloudily infected urine

Cystitis  in Bulldogs and Fr. Bulldog / PREVENTION:

Preventing bulldog cystitis involves several key strategies:

  1. WATER & HYDRATION: Proper hydration levels, can help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract and prevent stone formation.
    • Ensure that your bulldog has access to fresh, clean water.
    • Consider placing multiple water bowls throughout your home to encourage drinking.
    • Regularly refill the bowls with fresh water to maintain hydration levels.
    • Incorporate moist or wet food into your bulldog’s diet to increase their water intake. Wet food contains a higher water content compared to dry kibble, which helps keep your bulldog hydrated.
    • Some water additives can make water more palatable to dogs, encouraging them to drink more.
  2. ANNUAL EXAM & LAB: Annual exams and routine lab tests to help monitor your bulldog’s urinary health
  3. VAGINAL HYGINE: Keep your female bulldog’s vaginal skinfold and hood clean and infection-free by gently wiping with antiseptic bully wipes regularly.
  4. QUALITY DIET:  Feed your bulldog a balanced, high-quality diet that supports overall health and immune function. Consult your veterinarian to choose a diet appropriate for your bulldog’s age, size, and specific health needs.
  5. CALM & RELAX: Creating a calm and relaxed environment, maintaining a consistent schedule for activities like feeding and walking, and ensuring adequate exercise and playtime, all contribute to keeping your bulldog emotionally and spiritually balanced. Additionally, incorporating natural botanical anti-anxiety supplements can further support their well-being.
    1. Bully StressLess Formula
    2. Bully HEMP Calm & Relax Chews

Bulldog stress less calm chew

  1. LEAN BODY WEIGHT: Obesity can increase the risk of urinary tract problems in bulldogs. Help your bulldog maintain a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise.
  2. BULLY THERAPEUTICS:  incorporating therapeutic urinary supplements into your bulldog’s diet to promote urinary tract health. These supplements may contain ingredients like cranberry extract or D-mannose, which can help prevent bacterial adherence to the urinary tract lining
    • Eng Bulldog V4B Urinary Support Therapeutic Handout

Bulldog and French Bulldog Cystitis TREATMENT:

  1. ANTIBIOTICS: for infectious cystitis, ideally based on urine culture
  2. PAIN CONTROL RX: NSAID and other analgesics

bulldog Urinary Bundle - Ultimate

4. TOPICALS HYGINES: Keep your female English bulldog or French bulldog puppy’s vaginal folds and your bulldog tail folds dry and clean.

Bulldog and French Bulldog Cystitis TIPS & WARNINGS:

Below is a short list of selective bulldog cystitis tips and warnings courtesy of Dr. Kraemer


Bacterial cystitis in bulldogs can be treated with antibiotics, while cystitis causing bladder stones can generally be managed by adhering to a specialized custom diet, proper hydration, and supplements. Occasionally, your dog will need surgery to remove the bladder stones.


Increasing water intake is crucial for preventing crystallization and the formation of new urinary stones in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs. Keep an eye on your bulldog’s water intake and ensure they drink enough throughout the day.


Supplements containing polyphenols found in cranberry, marshmallow root, echinacea, astragalus, and Oregon grape root extracts have been shown to help reduce the adhesion of pathogenic resistant bacteria to the cell surface (biofilm).

Immune boosters, ache relief, live probiotics, and digestive enzymes can also be helpful.

bulldog digestive enzymes and probiotic supplement


It is important to get your bulldog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for testing, as this condition can be quite painful for your pet, and can lead to additional complications.


Many bulldogs are prone to developing moist infectious dermatitis in their tail pocket skinfold. This condition can cause irritation, pain, and itchiness, leading your Bulldog to rub or scoot to relieve discomfort. Continuous rubbing and scooting may also irritate or contaminate the vaginal area, potentially leading to inflammation and infection.

To prevent these issues, it’s essential to clean your bulldog’s tail fold, as well as the vaginal and hood folds, daily by wiping with bully antiseptic skinfold wipes specifically to help maintain hygiene and prevent the buildup of moisture and bacteria in these areas.


Compared to female bulldogs, the male bulldog has a longer and narrower urethra, putting him at a higher risk of urinary urethral blockage. Even small stones or debris can obstruct the urethra, preventing the passage of urine.

bulldog cystine urinary stone radiograph

This condition is considered a medical emergency, as urinary obstruction can lead to serious complications such as kidney damage, electrolyte imbalances, and even death if left untreated.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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