English bulldog

Flat-faced dogs at higher risk of painful skin condition

Flat-faced dogs are at the highest risk of skin fold dermatitis, and the likelihood of diagnosis rises as dogs get older.

New research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) analysed data on more than 900,000 dogs and found that some popular flat-faced breeds, including the English Bulldog, French Bulldog and Pug, have a higher risk of developing this painful skin condition.

Skin fold dermatitis is caused by friction, excessive moisture and lack of ventilation deep in folds of skin. It ranges from reddened to infected and ulcerated skin that has a bad smell and often results in pain throughout a dog’s life.

Although folded skin on dogs may seem ‘cute’ to many humans, it can have high health and welfare implications for affected breeds, the RVC said.

Pug in bed

In the study, 1.0% of all flat-faced dogs were affected compared to just 0.3% of dogs with the typical medium-length skull. Breeds that typically show pronounced skin folds on the face or body were between 11 and 49 times more likely to suffer from the condition than crossbreed dogs. The risk of diagnosis with skin fold dermatitis rose as dogs aged.

The impact of the condition on canine welfare has risen over the past decade due to the significant rise in popularity of some flat-faced dog breeds (which often exhibit deep facial folds). Other factors such as obesity and chronic skin disease are also associated with a higher risk of skin fold dermatitis.

It’s likely that some owners don’t recognise the signs to look out for and may not seek treatment, said Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive at the Kennel Club.

“This is an important reminder that owners of dogs with wrinkles should be aware of the potential problems and know how to avoid them — by cleaning their dog’s skin folds daily, ensuring they’re kept dry and making sure their dog is not overweight.”

Like humans, an ageing dog can develop age-related illnesses and become more susceptible to disease. At Petwise we offer senior dog insurance with no upper age limit and no co-payment excess regardless of the age of your dog. Why not get a quote today?