The Health Issues of a Perfectly Healthy Bulldog

The sad aftermath of a lacerated bulldog ear - and a cone of shame full of snow

The sad aftermath of a lacerated bulldog ear – and a cone of shame full of snow

Yesterday, I was preparing to put my two year old down for a nap. We were reading his last book when Lunchbox lumbered in and climbed onto the toddler bed – his new favorite dog bed. He started itching his ear and I saw what I thought were flakes falling off his head. “Yuck,” I thought, “he has some gunk in his ear (a normal occurrence) and he’s shedding it all over the bed!” But as I processed what I was seeing I realized he bleeding. On the white bed. On the freshly laundered sheets. On the wall. On the white bulldog. Big red droplets of blood everywhere. This was a massacre scene happening RIGHT. BEFORE. NAP. TIME.

I quickly shuttled him off of the bed and into the bathroom (after smartly removing the bath rug). Then I quickly cleaned and sanitized the room – cursing internally but trying to soothe the semi-traumatized toddler so that he wouldn’t miss his one-hour of PRECIOUS NAP TIME.

Finally, I was able to hoist 50-pound Lunchbox into the bathtub (his least favorite place) and assess the situation. It seemed he’d opened up the knife edge of one of his ears with his claws*. Possibly he had opened up a small cyst; he’d recently had a large growth (benign) removed on the same ear. Inside, his ears were pink and clean.

I vainly tried to apply a few band-aids to his wet hairy ear to staunch the bleeding, which, of course, didn’t work. I then just stuck him in his cone (which we always have on hand and use at least once a quarter) so he wouldn’t bleed all over the house and himself. One hour later he had a bloody smeared cone but his ear was crusting over and he’d crawled onto the cushion-less** couch and was snoring loudly.

This may all sound rather dramatic – and it was – but if you have a bulldog you know that random stuff like this happens ALL THE TIME! (Please don’t tell me it’s only my bulldog…)

The fact of the matter is is that Lunchbox is more-or-less a healthy eight-year-old bulldog. At 50 pounds he’s not too heavy (how he doesn’t gain more weight is beyond me since he won’t go on walks and he eats lots of stuffed animals). He has some joint issues that have creeped up since he’s gotten older. He has an excessive snoring problem but I wouldn’t say he truly has problems breathing. He has a humping problem but that’s psychological.

But he does have a lot of “episodes” and we’ve spent a fair amount of time at the emergency vet ($$$) these last few years. There was the time we thought he had ingested a tennis ball (What? How?) but in reality – after a very expensive scoping procedure at the Colorado State University Veterinary Hospital – turned out to be a ginormous hair ball (WHAT?? HOW??). There are the repeated skin issues where clumps of his hair fall out (“allergies” according to the vet). And the many many ear infections in his deaf ears. Did I mention he’s deaf? He has been since birth due to a gene mutation that occasionally arises in all-white creatures (don’t quote me on that). He’s been on steroids more times that I can count which really do lead to aggressive behavior and excessive peeing.

All this to say that it’s true what they say about this breed. They have issues. They are high maintenance. And they are expensive. I can’t compare them to other breeds because I’ve only had bulldogs (and a Bichon Frise growing up). They are also insanely tough and will really only acknowledge their difficulties when things are dire (at least that’s the case for Lunchbox). Since this is our second bulldog we’re more or used to their needs – at least at a high level. I would never describe them as defective – except when I’m made. I wouldn’t describe Lunchbox as sickly. I keep trying to tell my vet that Lunchbox has “problems” and she keeps saying “he’s young” and overall in good shape – for the breed, hence the title of this post.

I think it’s worth acknowledging that bulldog’s have special needs. They can’t get too hot, or too fat, or walk too far. But overall they are great house animals and very loving and loyal to their pack. Especially to two-year-olds with toddler beds full of stuffed animals.

Slobber On,

*We are only allowed to cut his toenails if one person puts him in a headlock first and then we move as fast as humanely possible.

**I had decided in the half hour before this all happened that I should sanitize the sofa cushions of bulldog odor!

  1. Having had three of them, I know exactly what you’re talking about. One had bloat (survived), one had an ear hematoma (healed on its own), one had abdominal surgery to remove inedible and indigestible item (twice), one had mast cell tumour (survived many years after surgery and chemo), one had bad skin allergies and was on prednisone most of her life (which was 14 yrs, and she’s the one who bloated and, separately, had surgery to remove something non-edible that she ate), one had brain cancer (glioblastoma, which she was diagnosed with young but she lived to be 12 anyway, she was just a bit weird), one had glaucoma and lost the use of one eye (same one as the brain tumour), two had explosive diarrhea more than once, one got skunked, one barely missed being trampled by a moose, and a million other little things like dewclaws caught on something, teeth that had to be pulled, torn ACLs, and so on. Of course we had cones, crates, and a whole pharmacy of vet drugs. And basically, these were healthy dogs who lived longer than the average bulldog (14, 12, and almost 12). I empathise with you!

  2. Lunchbox, you poor thing!! Doesn’t everyone know that unexplained medical issues are a bulldog rite of passage? We are high maintenance, quirky and spoiled — but our owners would have it no other way! (Well, I guess if it could be cheaper, that would be a better way…) Hugs and smooches, and hope you are fully recovered by now.

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