French Bulldogs, like similar short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds, can be prone to a variety of skin problems. Their short hair can be prone to breaking or rubbing, and their folds trap moisture and debris, making them prone to infections and allergies.
I’ve previously identified over 30 different health problems French Bulldogs can have (you can see them all here). French Bulldog skin allergies, bumps, rashes and conditions are one the major issues you could face as an owner.
The good news is that there are a range of treatments and preventative measures that you can take to help minimize your French Bulldog’s skin problems. As with anything, if the skin issue or rash is widespread or not clearing up with off the shelf remedies, you will need to take your pup to the vets
You might need to get some veterinarian prescribed antibiotics or medicated shampoos that aren’t available over-the-counter to cure French Bulldog skin bumps and rashes.
French Bulldog skin problems & conditions
Here’s an overview of the most common French Bulldog skin issues, with some notes on how you can either remedy them yourselves, or when you need to call the vet.
Dermatitis literally means inflammation of the dermis, or skin. It is a common skin issue in many breeds, and French Bulldogs are no exception. The causes of dermatitis are often multi-factorial and can include allergies to food and things in the environment.
Dermatitis often starts out as redness or an irritated area on the skin and can progress to scabbing, scaling, and even pustules.
Treatment for dermatitis can be internal or external. Cleansing the skin with antibacterial or antifungal cleansers or shampoos and rinsing carefully with cool water can treat mild infections.
More extensive cases of dermatitis may need oral antibiotics or antifungal medications, such as cephalexin or fluconazole. These medications are prescribed by a veterinarian, while some cleansing shampoos and wipes are available over-the-counter in your neighborhood pet store.
2. Nasal fold and tail fold dermatitis
A common location for dermatitis in French Bulldogs is in their nasal folds or tail folds. These locations trap moisture and debris, often getting inflamed very quickly. You may see redness in the area or purulent discharge, while the area may also have a foul smell.
You can help prevent dermatitis in these areas by keeping the area clean and dry. Wiping out your Frenchie’s nose and tail folds with a clean, damp cloth or cleansing wipe is the single most effective thing to prevent infections in these areas.
Just be careful not to hurt your Frenchie’s eyes when wiping the nasal folds.
If your pet gets an infection here, your veterinarian may need to prescribe medication, such as antibacterial and antifungal wipes, as they can have an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria in the area. In some cases, oral medications are also needed.
I’ve not met a Frenchie owner yet who hasn’t had to deal with this particular French Bulldog skin rash. It’s a very common skin complaint.
Did You Know? The most common health problems in French Bulldogs according to a study were skin problems (17.9%), ear infections (14%), diarrhoea (7.5%) and conjunctivitis (3.2%). See the results of the study in full.
3. Acute moist dermatitis – aka a “hot spot”
Hot spots are more correctly referred to as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis (see the definition on veterinary-practice.com). The latter identifies its cause as relating to self-inflicted trauma to the skin, generally from itching or rubbing.
It can start off as a French Bulldog skin rash which you might not be overly concerned about. However, it can then develop further until your Frenchie has an area or multiple spots on its body where it has thick scaling with a sticky discharge that mats the hair. It’s really not very nice and one of the nastiest looking French Bulldog skin problems you can encounter.
You can help treat a hot spot by carefully trimming the hair around the site, so it gets plenty of air, allowing it to dry out. You should also cleanse it with antibacterial solutions, such as chlorhexidine or betadine.
If the area is deep or large, or if it doesn’t start to heal quickly, your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotics. If your pet is continuing to chew at the area, your Frenchie may need to wear an e-collar or “cone.”
4. French Bulldog dry skin from food allergies
Food allergies are a common cause of dermatitis and other skin irritations and can result in a range of French Bulldog skin conditions.
Different areas of your Frenchie’s body may be affected; he or she may chew on their paws until they’re red, they may be itchy bumps, or they may develop an ear infection, just to name a few of the different skin conditions.
Treating food allergies involves getting rid of the component of the food that your Frenchie is allergic to; for example, it could be something as simple as chicken in their diet.
It’s important to note that most dogs are not allergic to grains, and many grain-free foods have been linked to heart disease in dogs.
Instead of going with a grain-free food, try a food that has a different protein source or let your veterinarian recommend a hypoallergenic food such as Royal Canin’s Ultamino.
5. French Bulldog skin allergies from environmental conditions
Environmental allergies affect many dogs, and your Frenchie may be no exception.
French Bulldog skin allergies can manifest in a variety of ways, from redness on your pet’s belly to them chewing at their paws. Sometimes they will have a contact allergy, where the part of the body that touches the allergen is affected where you might see a bump or rash. This can happen from something as simple as their lower belly touching grass or the lips touching a plastic bowl.
Did You Know? It’s not just your dog’s allergies you should be concerned about. French Bulldogs can also be quite bad for allergy sufferers.
You can often treat environmental French Bulldog skin allergies by using an antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Zyrtec. There are also prescription strength antihistamines that might be recommended by your veterinarian, such as hydroxyzine. Your veterinarian will tell you how much of the medications to give.
You can also try to eliminate the allergen, such as wiping off your pet’s paws and belly when they come in from outside. More potent medications that may be used at your vet’s recommendation include Apoquel and Cytopoint, which help to interrupt the allergen cycle.
6. French Bulldog skin bumps due to fleas
Fleas are a common pest affecting dogs and cats, and you may find your friendly Frenchie bringing them home. Fleas are identifiable as small, dark bodied insects that live on your pet. They may cause intense scratching and scabbing, especially in front of your pet’s tail and around their neck.
The first sign of fleas could be that you see one on your bed or furniture. Alternatively, a sure-fire sign will often be French Bulldog skin bumps or the sight of a small flea in their fur.
You can treat fleas by using a reliable flea preventative. There are oral and topical formulations, as well as collars, but you want to make sure you’re using an effective product. Cheap flea prevention products rarely work and may actually harm your dog.
You can rinse fleas off of your pup with a Dawn dish soap bath but be careful not to do it too frequently or you can dry out your dog’s skin. If your dog is very itchy, your vet may need to put them on anti-itch medications such as steroids, as well as antibiotics if they have a bad skin infection from the fleas.
7. French Bulldog skin issues from Autoimmune diseases
Some French Bulldogs are affected by autoimmune diseases, where their body attacks itself for a variety of reasons. These skin issues can be triggered by genetics, medications your pet is own, or may be idiopathic, meaning we don’t know the cause.
Your dog can develop skin lesions, such as ulceration of its nose, or its body can even attack its red blood cells or platelets, leading to life-threatening anemia.
Unfortunately, there aren’t really any remedies you can do at home to treat autoimmune diseases. Instead, your vet will need to diagnose the disease, often with a skin biopsy, followed by starting immunosuppressive medications.
These may include prednisone or cyclosporine, and some pets need to be on a combination of medications to be effective treated.
8. French Bulldog skin rash from ringworm
Ringworm is another common ailment that may affect your French Bulldog. It will start as a rash and then develop as a fungal infection that causes hair loss, often in a circular pattern on your pet’s body.
Some dogs will also just get scabbing or scaling lesions that identify it as ringworm. You must be careful with ringworm because some cases of ringworm are contagious to people.
Ringworm is sometimes treated with topical antifungal medications, especially if the lesion or problem rash condition is located to one spot.
If it is more widespread, your veterinarian will generally recommend topical therapy such as medicated shampoos, as well as oral medication. This medication usually needs to be fed with a meal, so make sure to follow the administration directions carefully.
What other Frenchie owners say
I am a member in various Frenchie Facebook groups, and they can be a great resource for tips and advice. I found a few questions on there that people has asked concerning skin infections and rashes, so have replicated those below with some of the best responses.
“I rescued my Frenchie from death row, and immediately he had skin issues right out of the gate. We had him allergy tested and he’s allergic to 20 different things. I started immunotherapy therapy, and I understand we are putting into his body what he’s allergic to, but his skin is raw all the time and broken out. His paws are so pink red. I’m having to give him a bath every 2 to 3 days for relief. His stomach area smells all the time. Does it get any better?”
“We have had skin issues with female Frenchie. Vet recommended aggressive anti itch, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic to get under control, discontinue all topical items except sensitive baby wipes and baby shampoo. Also recommended is to not to bath too often as maybe that is contributing to issues as well? It helped clear her up, but she still itches sometimes so she is on a lower dose of medication. Is it possibly the shampoo you are using or other topical items or scents?”
“Try changing his food to a chicken free food and putting raw zinc on his belly. It’s a natural way to protect against burns, allergic reactions, hives and any skin irritation. We use it all the time with great success.”
“Right now I’m using an allergy spray for dogs that goes in his mouth 2-3 times a day when I see the start of some pink rash looking thing on his belly and or around his groin. We can’t get the Benadryl here like you can so I’m using two types of Canesten creams to help with bacterial infection. The shampoo I use is mild tea tree. I wet a face flannel with it on gently sponge his underside whenever he goes out to parks when we get home.”
“For this type of skin infection our vet gave me a medicated shampoo and antibiotics. It went away. But I think he is allergic to different types grass. This only happened when he laid on his belly with legs out behind her in a certain type or grass in my back yard. I raked the whole yard of fall leaves. Finished her meds and he is now ok. You need antibiotics. And medicated shampoo. The skin condition was gone in two days.”
“Has anyone had any experience of hair skin issues on their Frenchie? Ours is almost 2 and due to get blood tests in a couple of weeks when she gets spayed to detect any skin allergies. She has always had issues scratching under arms and stomach and takes Apoquel daily at the moment. Past few days we’ve noticed balding around her neck and scratching until it bleeds.”
“We had the same skin issues so changed her food to a sweet potato and trout by signature we get from a natural pet food store, we also started giving her a pro biotic called Allergy Immune Bite off Amazon. Our girl has no more scratching and bald spots and is all clear great coat, good luck.”
We had a long period of hair loss after her spay. We tried different medicated shampoos, iodine baths, food changes, eliminating grass completely, melatonin, getting MERV 15 or 16 air filters for the HVAC system and changing monthly (we had 3 for one unit). None of these changed anything. The vet said she just had seasonal flank alopecia. We ran thyroid panels, allergy tests, blood tests… they gave us no direction. Then we tried changing her food… we went through a trial of dry foods, dehydrated raw, fresh raw, dehydrated cooked, freeze dried raw… ended up being home cooked food that cleared the skin problems up.”
“My Frenchie has skin allergies and every 3 months will get a skin bacterial infection and hives. My vet has her on antibiotics and Temp P. So far, it’s clearing up. But I’m thinking of putting her on Apoquel for the skin allergies and licking her feet. Has anyone’s dog ever had any side effects, and does it control hives?”
“My dog was on it. Made his immune system so bad that when he got canine papilloma virus (which can happen on or off Apoquel and is quite common thing to contract) it almost killed him because his body couldn’t fight off the virus and he needed emergency surgery. If you want to see what the side effects are, Google it. It works great however. And there are not many other meds that won’t cause side effects. I don’t know if you have access to a skin allergy injection called Cytopoint. It’s the “safest or less harmful” allergy medication. It’s an Injection once every 1 to 4 months depending on the dog and it acts like a sponge to absorb all the histamine without affecting the immune system.”
“My Frenchie had the same skin condition. She has been on and off of it for a few years. It is the only thing that has worked for her. She does not show any side effects and it is clear that she feels so much better. I did weigh the risks and the benefits with our vet. I am so happy that it is available.”
There are many problems and issues that will lead to French Bulldog skin conditions. To help minimize your pet being affected, feed them a high-quality diet, and keep their skin folds clean and dry.
You should also regularly clean out their ears, as French Bulldog skin allergies can quickly develop. You should also be wary of your dog getting water in their ears, as this can also lead to French Bulldog skin issues and ear infections.
In addition to the other things suggested to help treat and control French Bulldog dry skin issues, you can put them on fish oils. These products are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help improve your dog’s skin barrier, meaning they will be less likely to be affected by problems and conditions that may affect their skin, such as environmental or contact allergies.
If you have any questions or if your Frenchie’s skin doesn’t start to improve, you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian. They should be able to diagnose and treat your pet effectively, minimizing the amount of time they’re uncomfortable with dry skin conditions, allergies, bumps, rashes, and infections.