Bully breeds and nutrition: wrinkles, allergies, and more

How can you not love a Bully breed? Their squishy noses, lazy but playful nature, and even those farts are all part of what makes us love them so much. Even when they’re snoring so loud we have to watch TV with the subtitles on, we can’t help but love them.

But as you may know, our beloved Bully breeds are more prone to food allergies, intolerances, skin issues, and other problems. And their food can play a huge role in any flare-ups. What your Bully eats has a direct relationship with the issues above. So it’s essential that we understand Bulldog nutrition to help keep flare-ups at a minimum and keep our Bully happy and healthy.

But before we look at what they eat, let’s look at how they eat.

Bulldog nutrition

Like people, all dogs are different. But Bully breeds have a bit of a reputation for practically inhaling their food. Particularly English and American Bulldogs. For whatever reason, they eat at the speed of light. And when your pooch is eating like their life depends on it, they neglect one super important part of mealtime – chewing. 

When your pup doesn’t chew their food, there’s a good chance you’ll see it again all over your kitchen floor. Chewing is essential to digestion, so it’s important to find methods to slow your pup down.

To help with this, you can try using a larger bowl. Instead of having a small bowl piled high, a larger one allows the food to spread out, which should hopefully slow them down and make them think about grinding their food up some more. 

Or what about a puzzle bowl? The ones that look like a maze. These slow your pup down too, which should encourage chewing.

Another problem Bullies can have with eating is struggling to actually get to their food. French Bulldogs in particular have a tough time with this. Due to being a member of the #squishyfacecrew and having short necks, they sometimes have problems taking food from their bowl. Their love of eating fast can also cause digestive problems and very easily lead to choking.

One solution could be to invest in a bowl that’s designed specifically for flat-faced breeds. Yes, they exist! There are dozens of bowls to choose from. They’re usually tilted slightly and often have a curve on the rim to allow your Bully to really get in there and get all the food. Some flat-faced-friendly feeders are also puzzle bowls, so that solves both problems in one.

Who says you need a bowl at all? Some brachycephalic doggos find it much easier to simply eat their dinner off the kitchen floor. As long as the surface is clean and free of any toxic cleaning chemicals or potentially harmful human food scraps (such as chocolate and garlic), it could make the perfect dining table. Bone appetit!

Why do they do what they do?

If you own a Bully breed, you’ve probably dealt with that scary moment where you had to put your hand in their mouth to dislodge some food or a bone that they wolfed down. It’s scary.

But why do they eat so fast? Other than the role their physiology plays, dogs still have their instincts. Your pup inhales their food in part because that’s how wild dogs ate. They feel like they need to do it to protect their food. By raising their bowl, they feel like their food is safer. It’s closer to them. This can help slow them down. 

Another aspect to consider is the environment they eat in. Is it comforting and relaxing enough that they can drop their guard? Or are there loads of people going in and out and making a racket? This can make doggos more defensive of their meal, causing them to eat so fast.

Speedy eating paired with their increased chances of choking is part of why choosing the right foods for Bulldogs is so important. Rawhide, for example, can be extremely dangerous. They have a serious risk of choking because it easily gets lodged in the oesophagus. Not to mention what could happen if it gets stuck in another part of their digestive tract.

And the same goes for small or cooked bones. They’re big choking hazards and are prone to splintering, which could easily cut open your pooch’s mouth or throat. 

Bulldogs, in particular, love a good gnash. So we recommend chewing toys instead. It’s always a good idea to supervise your Bully when they’re having a good chewing session. 

Now let’s look at food. 

Bully allergies

Our favourite cuddly wrinkles are prone to skin allergies. It’s usually because of their genetics, but also because they’re literally walking wrinkles. 

How does this relate back to food? Well, Bulldog nutrition impacts absolutely everything. While it may just be poor luck, a lack of vital nutrients can cause skin problems.

Omega-3, biotin, and vitamins A, C, and E are among some of the essential nutrients that contribute to healthy skin. Deficiency in essential nutrients can cause seborrhoea, dry, flaky, itchy skin, red spots, and more.

On the flip side, instead of there being something missing from your pup’s diet, there could be something that shouldn’t be there.

Due to their breed, Bullies are more prone to food allergies. Allergies and intolerances can present themselves in more obvious ways like GI symptoms, but can also present as dermatitis, itchy, flaky skin, and more. Common food allergies for Bullies include:

  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Wheat (a type of grain)
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Artificial food colourings, preservatives, or seasonings

If your pup has suddenly developed more severe symptoms, or an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, one of these ingredients could be the cause.

Figuring out what exactly it is that your pups allergic to can be a nightmare. Especially when the list of ingredients on their food is as long as your arm, vague, and uses umbrella terms like “EC permitted additives”. What does that even mean? There are over 4,000 EC permitted additives. We have no idea what’s actually in that product. 

Artificial colours

Let’s touch on artificial colours for a second.

Those stunning squishy wrinkles that give Bully breeds their unique appearance can sometimes cause problems. It can get hot in there, which makes it a playground for bacteria. This is why it’s recommended to give their wrinkles a daily wipe.

But sometimes Bulldogs’ wrinkles seem more irritated than usual. In their baby pictures, their wrinkles may look clean. Gleaming even. But as an adult, their wrinkles look dark red, purple, or even almost black in the crevices. 

What does this have to do with artificial colours? Well, there are a few ways they can affect wrinkles. An allergy or intolerance to artificial colours (or another ingredient) can cause more tears, increasing the likelihood of stains. Or it could be the colour itself leaking from their tear ducts.

Sounds crazy, I know. But a friend of mine’s Bulldog struggled with dark wrinkles, even with daily wiping. When she switched his food to one that contained no dyes, it cleared up in around a fortnight.

Some Bully owners also say that changing their pup’s drinking water to purified or filtered water in a stainless steel bowl helps clear up tear stains too.

Considering artificial colours can cause allergies, intolerances, and dark tear stains, it’s safe to say they’re no good for Bully breeds and are best avoided.

What to do?

Hypoallergenic food is a safer bet for Bullies, or any dog really, that has allergies. Hypoallergenic means they’re free of the main allergens for dogs. This means you won’t find any beef, pork, wheat, wheat gluten, dairy, or soya in there. It’s a good starting point to help you pinpoint exactly what they’re allergic to.

And ensuring that their food contains no dodgy cuts of meat or artificial ingredients is important too. When a label says “animal derivatives”, you have no idea what’s actually in it. And as we can see on the list of common Bulldog allergens, artificial ingredients can be a problem. And as wheat is a common allergen for Bulldogs, they may also benefit from a grain-free diet.

But all dogs are different. Even if they’re Bully breeds. So it’s always best to check with the vet.

What works for one Bulldog won’t necessarily work for another. 

The most important thing is that your Bully gets the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy while avoiding any nasties or allergens that may be causing dangerous or uncomfortable symptoms. 

Looking for a hypoallergenic, nutritionally complete food for your Bulldog? Swagwags delivers healthy and tasty kibble straight to your door. Choose from a delicious range of flavours from our grain-free or hypoallergenic Super Premium range. For the tail wag of approval every time, get your pup’s new favourite meal today.

If you’re ever concerned about potential allergies, take one of our sensitivity tests. It’s non-invasive and takes 5 minutes to do – a small price for perfect pup health!