Food allergies and/or Skin allergies in bulldogs are not as common as you might think. In most cases the GI problems are more likely to be due to parasites, viral, bacteria, indiscretion eating, etc. and your bulldog skin condition are more likely due to atopy (environmental allergens), fleas and bacteria. Proper wellness and diagnostic rule outs should be done before a hypoallergenic food trail begins. If your bulldog also has a skin allergy consistent with food allergies (i.e. itching year around rather than a seasonal spike) then food allergies should be higher on your rule out list. Milder forms of food allergy could present with only frequent rumbling and gas release (yes that kind of gas, the one everyone turns his nose away from), but your bully might also suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In some cases food allergies could progress to something like IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
A high quality, organic, whole-food, human-graded, balanced pet diet is ideal for your bully good health. The protein source should be predominantly from an animal meat source. Offering fresh, organic, unprocessed fruits and vegetables to your bully is great; remember to avoid onions and grapes (raisins). When food allergy is suspected, a minimum of 8 weeks hypoallergenic food trial is advised. Your compliance and strict dietary maintenance during the trial duration is critical. The hypoallergenic diet could be either a prescription novel protein, a prescription hydrolyzed protein diet or a home-cooked novel protein diet. If by the end of the trial duration you bully is greatly improved I recommend you reintroduce your previous diet as a diagnostic challenge. I would expect the GI problems (and itch if it’s also a skin allergy) to start again within days to 2 weeks from the challenge start date. If the previous clinical problems re-emerge then you could be highly confident your bully has a food allergy.
Many bully owners associate food allergy with grain when in fact it is usually due to the protein source found in meat. The most common allergens are chicken (60%), then beef and fish. Also on the frequent allergens list are corn, soy, wheat, and dairy. To read more about Grain Free Diets and Bulldogs (“No Grain Diets”, “Low Grain Diets”)….Click Here
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #1: When your bulldog is enduring year round itching and/or otitis (i.e. ear infections) in addition to the GI problems, then food allergy should be on top of your rule out list.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #2: The best way to diagnose food allergy is a minimum 8 weeks trial on a strict prescription hypoallergenic diet, either a novel protein diet or a hydrolyzed protein prescription diet.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #3: If you chose a trial with a prescription novel protein I prefer either rabbit or kangaroo (i.e. avoid, relatives of chicken like duck and turkey as well as venison, salmon, etc.)
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #4: Remember, the objective of the hypoallergenic diet trial is to avoid the offensive allergen while providing the necessary dietary essentials (i.e. calories and nutrients). For instance, if your child is highly allergic to peanuts his diet should be 100% peanut free, while still providing all the other essentials.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #5: If the prescription hypoallergenic diets are too expensive you can try though I don’t recommend one of the OTC diets that is not based on any of the common allergen (soy, corn, chicken, dairy, beef, wheat, fish).
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #6: If there is no improvement after 8 weeks on strict hypoallergenic food trial, you can extend the trial a few extra weeks or try a different one. Remember not all bulldogs are the same, one might respond well to one type and poorly to the other one while the next bulldog puppy may have the opposite result.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #7: For those of you who can’t survive the trial duration without giving your bully treats, don’t despair. Most of the prescription hypoallergenic diets offer hypoallergenic treats. Those diets are also available in cans which could be used to give Rx “meatball-pillpocket” treats.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #8: If you have a food allergy concern and you believe your bully allergies are due to grains, then your grain free dietary trial should last at least ten weeks.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Tip #9: Grain should count for less than once third (<1/3) of the whole-diet, the other 2/3 should be in the form of meat-animal-protein, fruit and vegetables.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #1: During the trial duration be sure your pets don’t share any food items with you or your other pets. If you can’t be certain your dog will not eat your other pets’ diets I suggest you have all your pets on the hypoallergenic diet during the trail duration.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #2: While blood testing for atopic dogs can be helpful, the same cannot be said for food allergies. The best and preferred diagnostic test for food allergy is a 8 week strict trial on a hypoallergenic diet followed by a challenge food test.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #3: Remove everything with flavoring like treats and toys. Remove flavored medication, flavored supplements, flea tab, dental paste, supplements, chows, etc.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #4: Untreated gastrointestinal disease due to food allergy could eventually lead to IBD (inflammatory bile disease)
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #5: Don’t start the trial until you have completed a comprehensive workup and resolved other ongoing medical issues such as a thyroid problem or gastrointestinal issues (parasitic, etc).
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #6: Lower grade diets have a higher risk for unwanted adverse effects such as allergies and immune medicated disease (like IBD)due to higher possibility of unwholesome elements and contaminants.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #7: I don’t recommend you choose your bully diet based on the advertised and often hyped extra supplements. They are not likely to harm your bully but it’s really more of a marketing ploy then real value. The most popular and “sexy” supplements are fish oil (omega 3 and 6), glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and probiotics. As a rule, there are not enough in pure bioavailable dosage to therapeutically impact a medical condition in those diets’ daily feeding recommendations. When medically indicated I recommend supplements to be given separately as a standalone treatment.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #8: Sometimes food allergies are due to an undetected contaminant within that grain and meat.
Dr. Kraemer’s Food Allergy in Bulldogs Warning #9: Most commercial diets offer lower quality grade feed then the well regulated (USDA) grade pet diets.
*This guide was compiled courtesy of Dr. Kraemer, a “must read” manual for any current or future bully owner