English Bulldogs have remained one of the top 5 most popular dog breeds in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. From their adorable stocky builds to their funny personalities, what’s not to love? But when your rambunctious Bulldog puppy becomes a slow, senior English Bulldog, caring for them may seem like a difficult task.
So, what makes up our complete guide to caring for a senior English Bulldog? Below are the categories that we’ll be covering to give you a better idea:
- The Lifespan of English Bulldogs
- Physical Signs of Aging
- Arthritis and Aching Joints in Senior English Bulldogs
- Mobility Issues and What to do About Them
- Keeping a Healthy Weight
- Dental Issues in Aging Bulldogs
- Working Around Decreased Eyesight and Hearing
- Potty Issues (Loss of Bladder and Bowel Control)
- Changes in Behavior
In this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to know to care for a senior English Bulldog, along with reviewing some great products to help you along the way. In the upcoming sections, we’ll be covering each of the above topics in more detail, so stick around!
How Old is Old for an English Bulldog?
While many breeds of dog can live upwards of 13 or 14 years, some up to 20 (like the Chihuahua), the English Bulldog, unfortunately, has a relatively short lifespan in comparison. Though the lifespan of individual dogs varies, you can expect a Bulldog’s lifespan to be between 8 to 10 years, with an average of approximately 8.5 years.
This lifespan, being 30% shorter than the average of most other dog breeds, is likely due to the wide range of health issues that come along with English Bulldogs. Despite the average lifespan, if you strive to take excellent care of your Bulldog as they age, you could very well end up with a happy, healthy elderly companion well beyond the years of expectation.
Physical Signs That Your Bulldog is Aging
One common physical sign of aging in English Bulldogs is an overly dry nose. And while you may be tempted to use your personal lotion to offer some relief, it’s likely not the best idea. Ingredients such as artificial perfumes, alcohol, and other chemicals could possibly irritate the issue further.
Dry noses in Bulldogs are often the result of the humidity levels in the home (which you may want to adjust with indoor plants or a humidifier), the climate in which you live, or a condition called Nasal Hyperkeratosis — refer to a trusted veterinarian for a diagnosis.
For general dryness or crust buildup, the best way to care for your senior English Bulldog’s dry nose is by either making your own all-natural nose butter or by purchasing a nose butter made for dogs.
- DIY Dog-Nose Butter: A combination of avocado oil, olive oil, and cocoa or shea butter is an effective at-home solution for that dry nose. Alternatively, you can purchase an organic nose butter, such as The Blissful Dog Nose Butter (made with English Bulldogs in mind).
Other telltale signs of aging include a gray muzzle or grayness on various areas of the body, slower movement, worsened breath or mouth issues, weight problems, and decreased hearing and eyesight (which we’ll be covering in more detail in the following sections).
Arthritis and Aching Joints in Senior English Bulldogs
Because of the English Bulldogs’ build, aching joints and even Arthritis can become a very real problem. This is exacerbated if the dog is overweight, overexerted, has uncomfortable and unsupportive bedding, is placed in an environment that is too cold, or is forced to climb stairs daily.
- A diet: To combat arthritis and aching joints in your wrinkly pooch, you may need to put your English Bullie on a diet (we’ll discuss more on this, later) to lower the overall pressure on their legs, tone down walks or playtime and move their bedding downstairs, as well as purchase a dog bed that is designed to accommodate a dog dealing with painful joints.
- A supportive bed: Our favorite dog bed for senior English Bulldogs is the Furhaven Orthopedic Pet Bed. This is a great option that conforms to the shape of your dog’s body, supporting the back and neck, thus easing the pressure off of the joints.
- A warm spot. Because cold weather and conditions make arthritis more painful, you may want to consider keeping the temperature of your home in the 70s all year long. You can also provide a heater for your senior Bulldog, in a safe place near their bed when winter strikes or whenever your home is on the cooler side.
- Meds and checkups: You should also consider taking your elderly Bulldog to the vet to discuss a personalized care regimen, which may include medications to relieve some of the pain your dog feels. Following up with regular checkups can also be beneficial for monitoring your senior pet’s progress as they continue to age.
Your English Bulldog’s Mobility Issues and What to do About Them
As English Bulldogs age and develop joint issues or arthritis, walking can slowly but surely become a difficult feat.
If you notice that your English Bullie is having problems lifting themselves from their bed, walking for extended periods of time, or just walking around in general, considering mobility tools just might be the best solution for you and your dog.
Here are our favorite tools to help you support your dog’s body when necessary, and help your dog support him or herself:
For Loss of Back Leg Movement: Walkin’ Wheels Rear Dog WheelChair
Made for dogs of all shapes and sizes, the Walkin’ Wheels Rear Dog WheelChair is a must-have for the senior English Bulldog that has lost mobility in their back legs. The wheelchair is placed securely around the dog’s chest and hind end, supporting the dead weight and giving your dog the freedom to pull their body forward with their front legs.
Both ends of the harness are made with comfortable padding designed not to pinch the skin or create chafing whenever your English Bulldog is wearing the wheelchair for prolonged periods.
The wheels are extremely movable and maneuver without sticking or halting abruptly, allowing your dog to walk about as quickly (or slowly) as they please. Not to mention they have a pretty great turning radius to keep your pooch on the move.
For Lifting at the Vet or Up Stairs: The ROZKITCH Rear Lifting Harness
It’s no secret that English Bulldogs, though short-legged, are quite heavy, and lifting them on your own whether at the vet or up the stairs can be a daunting task. Especially as dogs age, awkward lifting can lead to pain and even accidental injury — things certainly aren’t what they used to be, and a senior dog’s body differs tremendously to that of a puppy.
That’s why a rear lifting harness can be instrumental during vet visits, getting in and out of the bath or the car, and going up and down the stairs in public or at home (though, we recommend that you move your dog’s bed and items downstairs for convenience if at all possible). The ROZKITCH Rear Lifting Harness is our favorite option for these tasks.
It’s available in 5 different sizes to fit your English Bulldog’s unique body, they’re veterinarian tested and approved, they fit comfortably under the tail and back legs, and they’re made with thick padding to prevent irritation to the most sensitive parts of your senior English Bulldog’s body
For Prolonged Trips or Emergencies: Pet Rover Heavy Duty Dog Stroller
If you’re worried about your senior English Bullie missing out on family adventures like vacations or a trip to the park, a dog stroller could be a wonderful alternative to leaving your furry family member behind. Though it may seem a little strange at first, they’re actually incredibly helpful for senior Bulldogs with arthritis, breathing troubles, or other ailments.
The best dog stroller we’ve found is the Pet Rover Heavy Duty Dog Stroller. It’s great for dogs of any size, which means that your senior English Bullie should have no problem fitting comfortably and includes a breathable mesh top cover to keep a barrier between your dog and the world if need be. It’s also available in three different colors to match your dog’s personality: sky blue, midnight blue, and red.
Underneath is a large basket to hold water bowls, treats, leashes, and anything else you may need to bring along with you on your walk. This dog stroller also includes a handy cup holder to fit practically any sized bottle and three extra accessory bags for whatever else you need to bring along for the journey.
Overall, for the more immobile or slow senior English Bulldog, a dog stroller is a great option if you plan to travel long distances or go out for the day and want to bring your pet along. It would also be a good tool to have in the car. In the event of an emergency, such as being on a walk during vacation and your elderly dog can’t keep up the pace, you can simply grab the stroller and be back on your merry way in no time.
Keeping Your English Bulldog at a Healthy Weight
As we’ve mentioned in the sections above, a senior English Bulldog that is overweight or obese can have increased joint problems, worsened breathing problems, and an overall shortened lifespan. If you suspect that your English Bullie is overweight, or if you’re not sure, talk to your veterinarian to see what needs to be done (if anything).
For all dogs, but especially dogs of stockier builds and flatter snouts, like the English Bulldog, a healthy weight is essential to their wellbeing. With age, English Bulldogs become more immobile, which can lead to weight gain if you continue feeding them quantity you fed them when they were rambunctious puppies and young adults.
Senior English Bulldogs should only consume approximately 940 calories per day of healthy food. If you’re trying to keep a healthy weight on your English Bulldog, avoid:
- Table scraps
- Too many treats
- An excessive amount of dog food
To address an aging dog’s specific nutritional needs, it’s best to switch to a dog food made with senior dogs in mind.
You should also determine if the state of your dog’s teeth is suitable for hard kibble, or if they’ll need to start eating wet foods. Both kibble and wet dog foods are nutritious for the senior dogs’ body, so which kind you choose really comes down to the physical abilities of your pet and your personal preferences as a pet owner. Let’s go over two of our favorites.
Two of the Best Food Choices for Senior Dogs
These next food choices apply to older dogs, but we did write an article about dry food for younger puppies here.
Best Kibble for Senior English Bulldogs
We feel that the best hard kibble dog food for senior English Bulldogs is the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food.
It’s made with real meat as its first ingredient and no by-products, its formula features glucosamine and chondroitin to help with joint issues and encourage better joint function (an ideal ingredient combination for the English Bulldog breed that is so susceptible to these issues), and it’s made with completely natural ingredients.
Overall, this dog food would be a fine option, giving your dog essential nutrients from sustainable sources.
Best Wet Food for Senior English Bulldogs
In our opinion, the Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food is the best wet dog food for seniors. This wet dog food is highly nutritious and made with real chicken as its first ingredient (and no by-products, dyes, or artificial flavors).
All of the ingredients, including vegetables (besides corn, which is a common irritant in dogs) and meats, are natural and enhanced with essential vitamins and minerals to keep your senior Bulldog healthy and happy during the later parts of their life.
It’s easy on the sensitive teeth and jaws of senior dogs and would do well as a treat, along with hard kibble, or as a meal of its own. Overall, we feel it’s one of the best options for senior English Bulldogs and has a lot to offer in terms of joint health and universal wellbeing.
Dental Issues in Aging Bulldogs
Like humans, as Bulldogs age, their teeth become more sensitive and susceptible to plaque and eventually breakage, pain, and tooth loss. Bad breath and noticeably inflamed gums are also telltale signs of dental issues in your senior English Bulldog.
In order to maintain the integrity of your English Bullie’s teeth (or at least slow negative progression) there are a few things you can do to keep their teeth clean:
- Discuss with your vet whether or not a professional cleaning is a viable option for your senior. A full dental cleaning requires that a dog be put under anesthesia, which can be a risky procedure for senior Bulldogs. These risks include:
- Bad reactions
- Acid reflux
- Increased recovery time
- Depressed Organ Functions
- Lowered heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen
Talk to your vet about your options and whether they think your senior is healthy enough to be put under. A dental cleaning would be beneficial to prevent future decay or sensitivity issues, but if the risk is too high, don’t take the chance. Instead…
- Clean your senior English Bulldog’s teeth at home. Talk with your vet about which dog toothpaste and dog toothbrush would work best for your senior. Never use your own toothpaste or a toothbrush meant for humans on your senior English Bulldog, as this could lead to adverse reactions or irritation.
Dog toothbrushes are often rubbery devices that you would place on your finger, but you can also find bristled dog toothbrushes. We recommend going with a rubber dog toothbrush and an all-natural dog toothpaste unless otherwise advised by your veterinarian.
- Get some chew toys if the vet gives you the go-ahead. While some senior English Bulldogs will not have the tooth integrity to hold up to rapid chewing, others will benefit from chewing. Chewing actually works to clean a dog’s teeth by removing some debris and strengthening their jaws. Some chew toys, like the Wisedom Dog Toothbrush Stick, are designed to act as a floss, wicking debris from your senior’s teeth.
- Keep it up with the senior dog food. As we mentioned in the previous section, dog food made specifically with senior dogs in mind includes a vast range of vitamins and minerals targeted at teeth and joint health. To keep your senior Bulldog’s teeth in tip-top shape, keep feeding them their favorite senior dinners.
- Watch out for signs of gum disease. If you notice any of the following signs in your senior’s mouth, contact your vet for a checkup to discuss what can be done:
- Brown teeth or noticeable brown coating on teeth
- Horrid breath odor that has worsened over time
- Noticeable mouth sensitivity, wincing or pawing at the face
- Redness or swelling of the gums
- Bloody gums when eating or chewing on toys
- Loss of appetite suddenly or gradually
With the proper care and precautions, you can build up and maintain your senior English Bulldog’s teeth and avoid disease.
Working Around Decreased Eyesight and Hearing
If your senior English Bulldog is hard of hearing or his or her eyesight is failing them, you may need to make arrangements in your home in order to accommodate their new state of being. For English Bullies that are hard of hearing, try not to startle them by walking up from behind, petting them suddenly, or picking them up when they don’t see you initially.
For senior’s that cannot see well, some beneficial actions are:
- Placing/installing gates
- Moving furniture
- Concealing sharp edges on tables, walls (or other items)
- Creating an alternative route to the stairs
You can also purchase an anti-collision ring to keep your senior English Bulldog from running into walls, chairs, windows, and so forth. Our favorite is the HEEPDD Blind Dogs Anti-Collision Ring.
Applied like any harness, this ring can be adjusted to your Bulldog’s size and is made with comfortable padding to avoid irritation. Plus, it’s very lightweight as not to injure or annoy your senior. Though likely not necessary for a senior Bulldog with light cataracts, this device may be extremely useful for the partially blind pet.
Potty Issues (Loss of Bladder and Bowel Control)
Another unpleasant aspect of aging Bulldogs is the possible incontinence they (and your home) may face. The loss of bladder and bowel control may be a gradual process that starts out slowly and then comes full force as time progresses.
At this point, there are very few things that you can do to combat incontinence, though doggie diapers are an option that’s available for your senior English Bullie.
Doggie diapers come in two options: disposable and washable. Both have their benefits, with the disposable diapers being more convenient and the washable diapers being less expensive and reusable. Let’s take a closer look at each option:
Best Disposable Doggie Diapers for Senior Bulldogs
Our favorite disposable doggie diapers for female English Bulldogs are the Paw Inspired Disposable Dog Diapers. They’re available in a range of sizes so that you can purchase the right option for your English Bullie; they’re great for containing accidents – including bowel incontinence – and ultra-absorbent.
The fasteners are fur resistant, and they’re relatively inexpensive (though they may get expensive if they’re needed for daily use).
The best disposable doggie diapers for male English Bulldogs are the All-Absorb Male Dog Wraps. They come in two sizes that may be suitable for male Bulldogs (Medium and Large), are fur safe, leak-proof, comfortable, and contain a wetness indicator to let you know when your senior Bullie boy needs to be changed.
Best Washable Doggie Diapers for Senior English Bulldogs
In our opinion, you can’t beat these Pet Magasin Reusable Washable Dog Diapers. The size is adjustable to fit your male or female senior Bulldog just right; they come in adorable colors, they’re machine washable and eco-friendly, comfy, and secure enough to prevent leaks of all kinds. The closures are made of Velcro and won’t pull fur or cause irritation.
Overall, these are great for if you have a senior dog that needs constant potty care, and you need to save on doggie diaper costs.
Changes in Your Senior Bulldog’s Behavior
Another thing to keep in mind when caring for your senior English Bulldog is, as they continue to grow older, their behavior might change slightly or even drastically.
Senior dogs may become more intolerant of other dogs, puppies in particular, and growl, snap or bite them. It’s always best to keep jumpy puppies or dogs away from your senior, as they could accidentally harm their brittle bodies.
The same can be said for young children that interact with your senior. Very young children are unpredictable and may pull on your Bulldog’s ears, grab at them, or accidentally hurt them, resulting in a bite or unhappy snap.
If there are small children in your home, be vigilant in reminding them how to interact with a senior dog, and if need be, separate the child(ren) and elderly English Bulldog to avoid negative interactions.
Combining joint pain and failing hearing or eyesight would make anyone anxious and grumpy, and with people and other animals seemingly coming from nowhere, this can really put an old, sensitive dog on edge.
As a precaution and to make your senior English Bulldog more comfortable, be sure that you’re patient with your senior companion and try your best to let everyone in the household — including guests — know to be careful, quiet, and calm whenever they’re interacting with this elderly furry family member.
Know When to Let Go
Caring for a senior pet isn’t just limited to dental care, vet visits, stroller walks, dental chew toys, and the proper kibble. Sometimes, as hard as it may be, the best care in the world is to let a senior dog go.
Senior bulldogs that are susceptible to and constantly struggling with joint pain, tooth pain, uncontrollable bladders, and bowels, and other ailments are no longer living the high quality of life that they once experienced.
When the time comes to say goodbye, you’ll know it, and it will be the last caring thing you will do for your wonderful, lifelong companion. Goodbyes are hard, but suffering is worse, and the love you feel for your pup should extend far beyond the want of keeping them around just a little longer.
Final Thoughts on How to Care for a Senior English Bulldog
Though the lifespan of English Bulldogs is shorter than most, you can still make the best of the later years you have with them with the proper care and attention. Regular vet visits, the proper diet, and weight slowing down on exercise and changing up your home, routines, and interactions with your pet are all part of keeping your senior dog happy and healthy.
Luckily for senior English Bulldogs that are still full of pep (but just need a little help here and there), there is a wide variety of care tools and toys to make their lives easier and more fun. From strollers and wheelchairs to diapers and dental sticks, the possibilities are endless for care for your gray Bullie.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.