My French Bulldog and His Allergies

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Dog, a man’s best friend. I have had my French Bulldog since he was about 12 weeks old. He is the cutest, most loving, quirky, stubborn little guy. Words can’t express how much I love him! Owning a French Bulldog is very complicated though. They come with health concerns and allergies. Brutus, my Frenchie, comes with LOTS of ALLERGIES. The poor little guy has been suffering with this for about half of his two years of life. There have been several vet appointments for him, lots of medications and tons of money. This is his story.

It all started when he was about a year old. He had this rash that was on his stomach. It was slight, but never went away. After an appointment to a vet, he was diagnosed with a staph infection and given an antibiotic. They had stated that he had some sort of irritation that made him scratch his stomach so much that it had became raw and this was how the Staph started. After a few days on the medication, he was better. The rash was gone, and no more thought was really given about it.

A few weeks later, the rash came back. Not as bad this time, and he didn’t  seem bothered by it. This time I had thought it was the common “hot spots” that dogs can get. I bathed him with a shampoo that was for hot spots and sprayed over the counter Cortisone spray on him too. Much to my disarray, it did not go away. There was another vet appointment. Before the appointment, they were running about half hour behind. While waiting, we went to a local park that was nearby. After playing there for a while, we went back to the vet. They found ONE flea on him after that. They told me that he was probably allergic to fleas and that’s why he was breaking out with this rash. I knew that he did not have fleas, but they would not believe me. This led to another round of antibiotics with a steroid added this time.

The rash went away quickly. Just a few weeks after finishing the antibiotic, guess what? The rash came back yet AGAIN! Still slightly upset that I was told this was a flea problem, I went back to the vet once again. She seemed more understanding this time and started thinking that it was more than fleas because he actually did not have them. He never had them, but instead picked one up from the park. We now started changing his food to a higher quality food that they recommended. We were sent home with new food samples, another round of antibiotics for a whole month and another round of steroids. Just like I figured, the antibiotic would clear up the rash.

Brutus was now on a high quality food getting absolutely no treats to see if the food alone was going to do the trick. After the month of antibiotics, he looked just like a healthy Frenchie.  I was afraid after the last dose of antibiotic that he was going to get his rash back. I was told that if the food change didn’t work, then he was going to need to go thru allergy testing. This was something that I was not necessarily fond of doing because I was looking at about a $400 vet appointment. Needless to say, I had to do it. The food was not helping and soon after the antibiotic ended, he was a red-spotted itchy Frenchie. I could not stand to see him like this. Living in Indiana, just south of Lake Michigan we get lake effect snow in the winter. One of the worst days in the winter was when Brutus had his appointment for his allergy test. We braved the weather and made it to the vet. I was nervous for him because I had no clue to what he was going to have to go thru for this test. It was very simple and they drew a syringe of blood and he was done. We left the vet this time knowing that we were going to get better answers to what he was allergic to and which route to go. There was another round of a full month antibiotic given. Then we waited. After about a week or so, there was a call from the vet. The results were in. Come to find out, he was allergic to about EVERYTHING!

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There were a few things that I was extremely worried about him being allergic to. The first one is human dander. He was fine with this. The next was cats and dust. He was also not allergic to those. Good thing, because I am not sure how we would be able to keep a house free of human dander and dust. And the cat, well, he comes inside too and he was first. Not real sure what would have come with that result being positive and don’t really want to think about it. On to the food allergies. Brutus was allergic to most filler in dog food. This explains why the change in to the higher quality dog food was not working. The company that did the allergy testing gave some options for food that would be good for him. The vet then looked at those options and recommended that he start Iams KO food. The KO stands for kangaroo and oats. Yep, you read right. I was now going to feed my precious dog kangaroo! This food is a special food that you can only get with a vets prescription. So now we knew that he was HIGHLY allergic to a lot of his dog food and I was willing to pay around $75 for a 30lb bag of kangaroo food. There were also several environmental things that he was allergic to, but the vet was highly confident that this was just a food problem

After being on the new food for over 6 months, we are still experiencing breakouts of the rash. We are in the process of trying Atopica. This is a medication that is supposed to keep Brutus’ body from being so sensitive to all the environmental and food allergens. Only a month in a half into this medication, I am staying positive that this will work.

  • Lori

    Hi my dog has the same issues you described. We are waiting until this current round of steroids and antibiotics are fine so we can do the blood allergy test. How is your dog doing on the kangaroo food? How about atopica? Did it work or us there still itching? Our dog is on hypoallergenic diet and is still scratching and we don’t know what to do anymore. Thanks

    • Hi Lori- I completely understand on not knowing what to do anymore. The blood allergy test did really help on choosing what food to get for Brutus, and hopefully this will help with you too. As far as the Atopica goes, we did not see a big difference in his symptoms, but have recently just started him on it again. Hopefully this time he will be more managed with everything and the Atopica will make a difference. The Iams KO food has helped quite a bit. From time to time we will still give him a treat of human food, but a small amount only. What kind of dog do you have? How long have you noticed the symptoms? Hang in there, you will find something that will work. Please keep us posted on your process and how your dog is doing.

    • Lori

      Hi Jess, my dog Charlie is a Yorkshire terrier. He is a rescue dog we’ve had for 3 years now and his allergies have been getting worse over the years. We think he was abandoned by his previous owners because of the allergies. We have been seeing our vet repeatedly over the years to manage the allergies and only now that we are pushing the blood test we are getting it done as they seem to think it will only help a bit because he probably has environmental allergies as well and can’t be managed unless we do those daily desensitization shots which we do not want to consider at this point until we rule out the possible food allergies. We also have him on Benadryl which barely helps but at least makes him a bit drowsy so he can sleep instead of scratch his ear raw. Our other dilemma is with the food situation because we have another Yorkie Pino, who doesn’t have the food allergy and is eating the hypoallergenic food and now seems to be scratching his ear a lot lately. If he develops a food allergy too I don’t know what I will do. My hope is that At least if we know there is a food that Charlie is not allergic too they can both eat that food as I don’t trust the hypoallergenic food because they do not know what the long term effects of that kind of food will be and it’s stressing me out a lot knowing that! Ok I will keep you posted on the results of the test which should happen in about a month from now. Good luck to you and Brutus too! I just want these poor little babies to get some relief!

      • Lori- Thank you for sharing your story. I know how frustrating it can be. It is so sad that someone could just get rid of their dog that is suffering so much. I am happy to hear that Charlie has found new “parents” that are taking good care of him. Good luck with him and please keep us posted!

      • Hi Lori- We were just checking in with you to see how Charlie was doing with his allergies?

        • Lori


          Thanks for checking in. Here’s an update. We were referred to a dermatologist who put us on a food trial of kangaroo and oats which I cook for him. We wanted to rule out a good allergy. Charlie’s allergies have not changed over the past four months while we have been doing this whicc leads us to believe he also has an environmental allergy. The vet wants to do some allergy testing but wants to wait until the fall season as the test results will be more accurate because pollens and grass allergies will be at its lowest. So for the past four months we have been treating Charlie’s flare ups with steroid pills and ear drops. Last week charlie had a very bad relapse. He has a huge mass in his ear from the scratching. The vet has now referred us to a surgeon to see if we should do a total ear canal ablation which is basically removing his ear and the canal so that the ear we can get rid of the infection. I am really sad we are at this point I don’t want to put him through the agony of the surgery ( after reading some pet owners stories) but we are trying to weigh the options if he is I. That much pain to have the surgery or not. My consult with the surgeon is on Sept 1. So we are just trying to control Charlie’s itching with more steroids and antihistamines in the meantime.

          • Hi Lori- Hope all went well with Charlie’s appointment with the surgeon. I know just how frustrating that it can be when you see him suffering. After doing some research of my own, I came across some interesting products that I am currently in the process of trying. I am only telling you this because you may find some information on their site that could be helpful with Charlie. *Please note that these products were not brought to my attention by our vet, I found them online while looking for other solutions for our Brutus. I am in no way diagnosing your Charlie, or even recommending them for you. I have no medical training with animals.* We are currently in the 3rd week of the Healthy Skin Program by It is too soon to tell if this will be the cure for Brutus, but I do see a decrease in the yeast build-up in his ears. They suggest that it normally takes a whole year to see full results in a dog. Time will only tell. Hope Charlie and your family are getting some relief. Please keep us updated on how everything is going.