Food Allergies or Demodectic Mange?

February 10, 2008

Hi Jan,

I have a 3 year old English Bulldog. I take him to the vet about every week for his allergy shot. The vet says he has food allergies but no matter what food we try it does not seem to work. He is currently on Royal Canine. Do you have any suggestions for me, on what to feed him. He also has cysts appearing all over his body, shedding real bad and hair loss. Is this normal



Hi Tracey,

No that is not normal.  But it is common in bulldogs.  He may have demodex,
otherwise known as mange.  It is caused by a proliferation of mites that
live in the hair follicles of dogs.

The only way to know for sure is to have your vet do a skin scraping.
It is treated with a drug called Ivermectin.  Some vets recommend a
dip but I think this is very harsh and toxic for your bulldog.
You can also treat him with goodwinol topical cream.

But this could also be a symptom of food allergies.  So if your
vet has done a skin scraping and ruled out demodex or other
parasites, I would definitely suspect food as the culprit.

My belief is that these types of skin conditions are aggravated
by food allergies and can be treated effectively by simply
changing the diet in most cases (including mine!).

Centuries of inbreeding the bulldog line has led to some genetic
weakness that can cause a compromised immune
system which can leave them vulnerable to opportunistic diseases such
as demodectic mites that would not invade a healthy dog.

That said, there are many other things that can cause a depressed
immune system, such as stress, fighting an infection, and environmental
allergens.  And food allergies.

What sort of shots is your vet giving your bulldog?  I am not a fan
of prednisone shots because they only treat the symptoms and not
the underlying cause.  And they can contribute to weakening the
immune system.

I would suggest you switch your bulldog to a single protein source food
such as California Naturals or Canidae Lamb Meal and Rice.  The lamb
seems to be easily digested and the only other ingredient is rice.

Lots of people feed their bulldogs Royal Canin, but it’s primary ingredient
is chicken.  Chicken is one of the primary food allergens in dogs (along
with beef, soy, and fish) so I would definitely switch him off of that.

Take a week or two to switch the food, starting with just a small part of the
lamb and rice, then up the proportion slowly until it is all the new food.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if I can help you any further.

Your Bulldog Pal,



5 Responses to “Food Allergies or Demodectic Mange?”

  1. nstokes11 Says:

    Hi Jan,

    I am also frustrated with my 4 year male english bulldog named Baus. He has different symptons and I would say they are chronic. About 2 years ago he began to show signs of cherry eye. We never decided to get him the surgery due to hearing mixed reviews from the outcome. About the same time he began having ear infections, the vet called it yeast infections. Smelly and yellow discharge would appear. The vet told us to clean the ear out with a combination of alcohol/vinegar and I am not sure what else. It seemed to work at the time but the infection came back from time to time. About a year and half about his problems escalated to a whole new level. His eyes now have a yellow greennish discharge that comes out daily that we rinse with an eye wash (we usually have an medication that we put in his eyes as well which looks like neosporin.)He is going blind. His ears have now grown to a chronic ear infection (smelly yellowish discharge). He has flaky dry skin/fur. His genital area seems to be red and inflammed (no lesions though). He seems to get worse and worse by day and has lost his personality…meaning he would rather lay in one spot than move around. He does not scratch, but he does shake is head a lot which I assume from his infected ears.
    It takes both me and my husband to clean this dog daily. We have been giivng him a bath about once a week(we bye mediacted shampoo). We wipe him down, clean his eyes/ears twice a day. IT IS SO EXHAUSTING with no reward. We have seen a couple different vets and they say try different food, like the duck/potatoe. They have told us to use the science balance food which is 55+ dollars for a smaller bag (we have 2 65 pound english bulldogs) it is a little expensive for us. We have tried all the high end food labels. I guess we should try them longer than we do. We usually change about every 2 months, after no results.
    PLease help us!! We have tried evrything and my poor dog is getting worse as the days go by and the vet bills are not helping!

    Best Regards,


    • Hi Nicole,
      Sorry for the delay, I just got your message. Your poor guy has a host of problems, all related to a compromised immune system. High quality food can really help overall health, but his infections need to be treated by your vet. I think you should try switching food to an hypoallergenic formula with limited ingredients like the duck and potato or a venison formula – the science diet is not good food in my opinion. Try Nature’s Variety or Acana, available at a specialty foods store. Two months should be enough to see some positive results. He is clearly having mega allergic reactions. He may have a staph infection in his eyes which needs to be treated with an ophthalmic solution, not just neosporin for people or he’ll go blind. He may have a scratched cornea from inverted eyelashes.

    • briang191 Says:


      Your entire post is what is happening to my 2 year old bulldog. What I would suggest is going to this website

      Locate someone you can contact in your area. Ask if they know a vet in your area that specializes in bulldog. I was taking my dog to a vet in my area and they knew nothing about bulldogs. I spoke to someone from the rescue roster and she was more then my vet could ever be.

      I have switched my dog from eukenuba lamb and rice to natural balance venison and potato along with Prozyme. I’m going to stick with this process for at least 3 months to see if it helps with his yeast infection.

      As for the ears Im using this product Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution it calls for a 7 to 14 day solution. It seems to be working really well. When applying this solution you are instructed not to clean the ears at all.

      As for bathing I was using Malaseb Shampoo. but it didnt seem to help my bulldog at all. So I was told that Head and shoulders might be a good option. I have been bathing my dog every 2-3 days. Before rinsing my dog off I let the shampoo soak in his fur for 10 mins.

      As for the eyes the vet gave me Vetropolycin and it helped a good amount but my dog still gets the green discharge daily. Your dog might be suffering from entropion.

      Most of the items I’ve listed can be purchased online for a very reasonable price. either through or entirely (good service fast shipping.) The eye medication can be purchased through but you will need to have it authorized by your vet.

      I hope this helps. Its only been about a week since I’ve started using all these products. I will report back in about 2 weeks


  2. i have a question i have a 5 month old english bulldog and her skin from her face and front legs started to get red skin she does not have any sores but she is losing hair…… i made a vet app for her but feel bad because they gave me her app in 2 weeks and i feel bad seeing her like that with out knowing whats wrong.

    • The first thing that comes to mind in a young bulldog is demodectic mange although there usually are very small scabs at the base of individual hairs as mites attack the hair follicles. It gives the dog a moth eaten look. Other conditions that can cause hair loss are fungal infections such as ring worm which is characterized by a circle pattern of hair loss that is crusty. Ring worm is contagious and can spread to other pets as well as humans. Another option is contact dermatitis but that usually affects the belly. If she starts to get oozing infections or the area broadens I would recommend you put pressure on your vet to see her sooner or seek out another vet.

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