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Bulldogs are prone to quite a host of serious health problems which must be taken into consideration when choosing the best dog food for them.
The good news is that I have done my research and compiled a guide on what to look for and what to avoid in dog foods to keep your Bulldog as healthy as possible.
Here’s a little look at my top 4 choices:
Top 4 best dog foods for Bulldogs in 2021:
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How many calories does my Bulldog need?
The Bulldog is a medium-sized, stocky dog who is renowned for being a bit of a couch potato. It is very important to take your Bulldog’s activity levels into account when calculating how many calories she needs.
This is because Bulldogs gain weight easily and often find difficult to shed afterward. And an overweight Bulldog is at risk of many health problems, which we will look at in the next section.
The following calorie calculations* are based on the average weight of a Bulldog which is 54 lb (24.4 kg). The female of the species is smaller and less muscular and usually weighs between 40 - 50 lb (18 - 23 kg). Therefore, she will need fewer calories.
*Calculated using Dog Food Advisor’s calorie calculator. Consult with your vet to get a specific amount for your Bulldog.
To give you an idea of what the activity levels are for this breed, a typical Bulldog will do about 30 minutes of exercise a day, while an active/working dog will do an hour or more.
Common health problems in Bulldogs and how choosing the right food can help
Sensitive stomachs and allergies
Bulldogs have a very sensitive digestive system and can suffer from upset stomachs, indigestion, and flatulence. They need a high-quality dog food that is free of artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors, as these are likely to cause her upset. They can also severely compromise their immune system, leading to a greater risk of developing food allergies.
Since Bulldogs do often suffer from food allergies, in my opinion, all grains should be avoided, as they are common allergens for dogs, as well as beef and dairy.
Gastric torsion is a very serious condition that can occur in deep-chested dogs like Bulldogs. It happens when the stomach expands, becoming overstretched by lots of gasses, and twists, which cuts off the blood circulation.
This condition is usually caused by a dog eating large meals in one sitting or on exercising directly after eating. Bulldogs tend to eat very quickly, and they often swallow a lot of air when they eat due to their short muzzles. This can cause a buildup of gasses and can make them more susceptible to gastric torsion.
To avoid her suffering from this condition, feed your Bulldog 2 - 3 small meals a day rather than a large amount in one sitting. It is also a good idea to choose a small or medium bite kibble over large bite, as the smaller size will encourage her to eat more slowly and cause less gas buildup.
Bone and joint problems
Rapid growth in Bulldog puppies
Though a medium-sized breed, Bulldog puppies are prone to rapid growth like many large breed dogs, which can put stress on their developing skeleton and lead to joint problems, which Bulldogs are already susceptible to.
Therefore, it is a good idea to feed your Bulldog puppy a dog food that is specially designed for large breed puppies. These will have the right macronutrient balance to encourage slower growth and put her at less risk of developing joint problems.
Hip and elbow dysplasia
Bulldogs are bred to be squat, and their bone structure plus their heavy weight often puts a strain on their joints. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, they are the number #1 breed for suffering from hip dysplasia, with 72% being found dysplastic. They are number #4 for elbow dysplasia, with 35% being found dysplastic.
In both cases, there is a malformation of the joint, which leads to joint pain, arthritis, and, in severe cases, lameness.
You can help your Bulldog by keeping her at a healthy weight, as any excess weight will put further strain on her joints. You can also look out for chondroitin and glucosamine in dog food. These nutrients can relieve joint pain as well as help rebuild damaged cartilage.
Tumors and cancers
Bulldogs are particularly susceptible to developing mast cell tumors; in most cases of the disease, it is seen at around 8 years of age.
Most commonly, they are located on the trunk and perineum (between the anus and vulva in females, or the anus and scrotum in males). The second most common place is on the extremities, and, least commonly, on the head and neck.
It is important to keep your Bulldog’s immune system strong to ward off cancer. The best way of doing this by feeding her a high-quality dog food that contains plenty of cancer-fighting antioxidants, like Vitamins A, C, and E.
The English Bulldog is, unfortunately, at risk of quite a few heart conditions, including mitral valve disease and other diseases that stop the heart valves from opening as they should.
Symptoms can include:
- Dizziness and fainting
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
Again, maintaining optimal weight in your Bulldog is paramount for her heart health.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help dogs with heart diseases, especially with heart murmurs, though not as a preventative measure. You should look for a dog food that contains fish or flaxseed oil, as these are high in omega-3s.
You should also opt for a low-sodium dog food, as excessive sodium is detrimental to heart health.
Macronutrient requirements for Bulldogs
Since Bulldogs are prone to weight gain (plus they aren’t the most active of dogs), they don’t need a large amount of protein.
I would say that between 20 - 25% suits a Bulldog just fine, while more active Bulldogs should have about 30%.
It is important that the protein your dog consumes is from high-quality sources such as whole meats like chicken, turkey, or fish.
Steer well clear of dog foods that include by-products or generic terms such as “animal meal” in their ingredients list. These are much less digestible forms of protein, and your dog will not get the proper nutrition from these ingredients.
Fat is an essential macronutrient for dogs, as it provides them with energy and keeps their skin and coat in a healthy condition. It is recommended that all adult dogs get between 9 - 15 % fat.
Bulldogs are short-haired, so they won’t need a large amount of fat to keep their coats nourished. Plus, since they are prone to weight gain (which has a very negative impact on their health) I recommend a dog food that contains no more than 13% fat for your Bulldog.
A low-carb dog food is the way to go for a Bulldog. Lots of carbs will just make them gassy and more likely to gain weight.
A good way of checking this is by reading the ingredient list - if the first ingredient is a carbohydrate, it’s a sure sign the food is high in carbohydrates. Ideally, the first two ingredients should be a source of protein instead.
As we have already seen, it is best to avoid grains, as they could cause her allergic reactions. Instead, she can get her carbohydrate intake from vegetables like sweet potato or legumes such as chickpeas or lentils.
Vitamins and minerals
To prevent the development of tumors in your Bulldog, opt for a dog food that is full of antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage as well as keep your dog’s immune system strong.
Ideally, you want to see a variety of fruit and vegetables in your dog’s food, particularly blueberries and leafy greens. Vitamin supplements are okay, too, but whole food sources are preferable, as they contain a whole lot of other nutrients, too.
What is the best dog food for Bulldogs?
Below are my top 4 choices for the best dog foods for Bulldogs. To prevent stomach upset or allergic reactions, each of them is free from beef, dairy, and grains, nor do they contain artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.
#1 Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Adult Whitefish and Menhaden Fish Meal Recipe
For me, this grain-free recipe from Wellness Complete Health wins hands down as the top choice of dog food for a typical Bulldog.
It includes 26% protein which comes from two types of fish, and just 12% fat, which is ideal for a Bulldog. While there are two sources of protein, the second ingredient listed is potatoes, which makes its carb content higher than desirable.
The fish in this recipe, plus the addition of canola oil, makes it high in omega-3s. This, on top of the fact that there is no added salt, means it is a good choice if your Bulldog suffers from heart problems.
Wellness also adds in some glucosamine and chondroitin to support her joints.
Finally, Wellness Complete Health calls itself this for a reason - it doesn’t skimp on the fruit and vegetables in this formula, including 6 antioxidant-rich sources. This makes it a food that supports your dog’s immune system and helps prevent diseases like cancer.
- Suitable for typical Bulldogs
- High in omega-3s
- Low in sodium
- Contains ingredients to support her joints
- Contains a range of fruit and veg
- Moderately high carb content
- Though it seems rare, some customers reported their dog had an upset stomach with this food
#2 Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Lamb Recipe for Adult Dogs
Blue Buffalo is a favorite of mine; I love their high-quality recipes that focus on providing dogs with healthy and nutritious food. I think this recipe from Blue Buffalo Freedom suits typical Bulldogs well.
The protein content is in the middle of the bracket I suggested, at 22%, coming from lamb and turkey, which are the first two ingredients. The fat content is just slightly over, at 14%, but as the protein is fairly low, I think this balance is fine for a Bulldog.
The omega-3 content isn’t low, but it isn’t high, either, so if your dog suffers from heart problems, you might want to supplement this food or look for a food that has a slightly higher amount.
Blue Buffalo Freedom does include a lot of glucosamine which is great for her joint health. However, there is no chondroitin here, which makes it less well balanced than the top choice in this review.
Finally, where Blue Buffalo Freedom doesn’t disappoint is in the antioxidant department. They provide an array of fruit and vegetables, which come cold-pressed and, therefore, extremely potent! They also include lots of supplements on top of this.
This is a food that will help your dog’s immune system stay strong and ward off illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
- I think it’s suitable for typical Bulldogs
- Contains an ingredient that supports her joints
- Includes an array of (extra potent) fruit and veg
- May not be a good choice for Bulldogs with heart problems
- Lacks chondroitin
#3 Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original
I have chosen another recipe from Wellness, this time Wellness CORE, as a good option for highly active/working Bulldogs who get more than one hour of vigorous exercise a day.
The protein content is very high, at 34%, coming from chicken and turkey, while the fat content is mid-range, at 16%. While the protein content may seem like a lot - even for a highly active Bulldog - the carb content of this food is low, which makes this recipe very well-balanced, in my opinion.
The use of salmon oil and flaxseed provides good sources of omega-3s, but, as with Blue Buffalo Freedom, if your dog suffers from heart problems, you may need to supplement this food.
There is, however, a lot of joint support for your Bulldog, with the inclusion of chondroitin and glucosamine.
As with the first recipe, Wellness CORE packs this formula with tons of fruit and vegetables to provide an antioxidant-rich diet for your Bulldog’s immunes system health.
- For me, it’s a good choice for active Bulldogs
- Low in carbs
- Contains ingredients to support her joints
- Includes a lot of fruit and veg
- I think it’s high protein and fat content make it unsuitable for a typical Bulldog
- It may not be suitable for Bulldogs with heart problems
#4 Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Legume & Duck Meal
This dog food is a great choice for Bulldogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies. The idea of Limited Ingredient diets is to minimize the number of ingredients your dog consumes and, therefore, lessen the chances of causing an allergic reaction. It can also be a good way of testing what your dog does and doesn’t react to.
This recipe includes 22.5% protein from just one source, duck, and just 11% fat, which is fine for a typical Bulldog. The low fat content makes it a good choice for overweight Bulldogs who need to shed a few pounds.
There is a high amount of omega-3s in this recipe, which supports her heart health. There aren’t many fruit or veg sources, given that it is a Limited Ingredient Diet food. However, Natural Balance includes many supplements to give her the antioxidants she needs to support her immune system.
There are no additional nutrients to support joint health in this formula, so it is not the top choice for Bulldogs with joint problems.
- I think it’s a good choice for typical Bulldogs with allergies and sensitive digestion
- Low-fat - good for overweight Bulldogs
- High in omega-3s for heart health
- No whole food antioxidant sources
- No ingredients to support her joints
In my opinion, Wellness Complete Health is the top choice for typical Bulldogs, providing lots of joint support and antioxidants, while Blue Buffalo Freedom comes in at a close second.
Wellness CORE is a good choice for highly active Bulldogs, while Natural Balance Limited Ingredient is a great option for Bulldogs with sensitive tummies or heart problems.
What do you feed your Bulldog? Leave a comment below!