Bulldog Health: Histiocytoma or Button Tumor

Roxy's histiocytoma, April 6, 2012. Notice classic button shaped appearance.
Like all bullies, Roxy plays rough. So when she suffered a small laceration on her snout from a robust French bulldog that developed into a flat, pink scar, we weren't concerned. The scar persisted for months without incidence, then suddenly, within a week, grew into a round, red, fleshy tumor. Was it cancer? An infection? But how could that be, so many months after the injury, and why did it grow so rapidly?

Our vet told us that based on the lesion's appearance and Roxy's young age (1 year), it was almost certainly a histiocytoma or button tumor. She reassured us that it was a benign growth common in young dogs that would most likely regress over the next few months. Unless it became infected, caused discomfort, bled or persisted for too long, there was little need for intervention or removal.

According to PetMD.com, histiocytomas are more common in flat-coated retrievers, bull terriers, boxers, dachshunds, cocker spaniels, Great Danes, and Shetland sheepdogs. Symptoms are:
  • Small, firm, dome or button-shaped masses on the skin surface
  • Rare autoimmune blistering (dermoepithelial) masses, which may be ulcerated
  • Fast growing, nonpainful, usually solitary
  • Common sites are the head, ear edges, and limbs
  • Occasionally multiple skin nodules or plaques
Our vet couldn't explain why Roxy's scar developed into a histiocytoma, however, upon further research I learned that histiocytomas are made of Langerhans cells, specialized cells that are an essential part of a dog's immune system. And although most sources couldn't explain why they occur in young dogs, according to Maria Hiltner (who cites Joan Rest's 2008 paper on http://www.vetcancercare.com/),
"It is believed that the tumor forms when a foreign agent infiltrates the Langerhans cells and stimulates unchecked proliferation. These tumor promoting agents are carried by ticks and other insects from dog to dog, and facilitate spreading of the agent causing cutaneous histiocytoma."
Histiocytoma, April 17. Tumor is pinker and less pronounced.
This makes sense, since foreign material from the French bulldog's fangs may have been introduced during the injury. And anyone who's had a child in daycare is familiar with the frequent fevers and colds toddlers suffer while their developing immune system adjusts to the outside world. This explains why histiocytomas are common in young dogs under two years of age.

Although histiocytomas are benign, Ms. Hiltner goes on to emphasize that a proper diagnosis is necessary, because "problems arise when malignant tumors disguise themselves as cutaneous histiocytoma and owners delay diagnosis and treatment."

Happily, Miss Roxy's histiocytoma resolved after a month or two, and she's as happy and beautiful as ever.

Further reading:

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee

Bulldog Health: Heat Stroke

In August 2012, Louisiana Tech University's beloved mascot, Tech XX, died from heat stroke when a caretaker left him out in the sweltering sun.
Roxy's piglike snorting and snoring may seem endearing, but in hot weather, her compromised breathing can quickly lead to trouble, even death.

Dogs do not sweat, and instead rely on panting to cool down. Short, rapid breathing increases air flow over the moist surfaces in a dog's upper airway, increasing evaporation and dissipating heat. The English bulldog's short snout, long soft palate, and genetic predisposition to stenotic nares (narrow nostrils) and hypoplastic trachea (narrow windpipe) interfere with its ability to breathe properly under exertion, making this breed especially prone to heat stroke.

According to Jim Young, DVM,
Bulldogs are extremely intolerant of heat. They must be kept in an air-conditioned area with limited trips outside when the outside temperature is over 80 degrees or the humidity is high. Close supervision is required during outside activity, especially in spring and summer to prevent over-exertion leading to over-heating. They also are not usually capable of prolonged physical activity whether the temperature is very warm or cold: a Bulldog is not for someone who enjoys taking a dog for long walks through the countryside.
I always laugh that walking Roxy is not like walking a dog. Runners whiz by with obedient labradors at their heels while I'm pulled along on what I call Roxy's Miss Aloha tour. She stops under every tree, begs for adulation from every passerby, and is unabashed about dragging/scooting her ass across the neighbor's driveway. Nevertheless, I am always mindful of the effects of overheating. I always walk her at dusk, bring along a squirt water bottle so I can give her a quick drink and mist her down, and always watch for signs of overheating and overexertion. (One article I read recommends the "wet-shirt" method: put your bully in a child's t-shirt and wet him down in water before the walk.)

One day our adult son, unaware of Roxy's limitations, took her on what he thought was a very short walk in 82 degree weather. Despite many rest breaks and ample water, she came home to us with labored panting, frothing mouth and protruding dark red tongue. She was staggering, refused to drink (because of her labored breathing), and vomited. We hosed her down with water and when she was able to tolerate it, gave her ice chips and iced water. I even mixed a little electrolyte "vitamin drink" into her water--I don't know if this is advisable--because I was worried about hyponatremia with all the water she was gulping down. Very scary. We were lucky that day, and our son has learned that despite her sturdy appearance and bully personality, our little girl does have her limitations.

Articles about heat stroke in bulldogs and life-saving interventions:

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee

Bulldog Health: When to Take Your Dog to a Vet

Dogs are like young kids...they can't tell you what ails them. With all of Roxy's frequent health problems, we've often wondered, aside from obvious signs of trauma, when does she require immediate veterinary attention? Here's a helpful article by Cesar Millan, "When to Take Dog to Vet ASAP."

Bulldog Health: Pains and Sprains

Little Miss Roxy
I affectionately refer to my Roxy as my dainty ballerina, my petite princess, or my little pixie. In reality, she is anything but. With fifty pounds of exuberance and a low center of gravity, she seems indestructible as she barrels into shins, knees, furniture, the screen door...

Yet Roxy's mounting vet bills are proof positive that she does have her limitations. Because she has a floating patella that needs further evaluation by an orthopedist, we've been careful about her jumping off and on the furniture. The problem is, Roxy isn't always compliant. So, when she took a particularly hard tumble off of the sofa and couldn't immediately bear weight on her right foreleg, we were worried.

My husband, who is a physician, examined her and didn't think she had a fracture. He thought she more likely suffered a sprain or possibly, a torn ligament. I made an appointment to take her in for an x-ray--however, after reading that soft tissue injuries wouldn't show up in an x-ray and that torn ligaments may require surgery, I was a bit hesitant. Her limp did seem to improve with rest, so I canceled the x-ray and did more research. I found this bit of advice from Jan Oswald, the author of The Healthy Bulldog:
"Keep her confined to walking only for a week.  That means no jumping on or off the couch, no running around, no walks – as little activity as possible. If she is still limping in a week, it’s a pretty sure sign of a torn ligament.  It’s important to take care of this injury as additional injury can occur with movement and this can lead to arthritis."
It wasn't easy, confining a one-year-old bulldog. But I'm happy to say that after four or five days, Roxy is fine, and now we are more careful about her jumping from the sofa.

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. If your dog experiences an injury or any other health concern, it is best to have it evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee

Bulldog Health: Cherry Eye

They say English bulldogs can be walking veterinarian bills, and yup, our little Miss Roxy has her fair share of health issues--one of which was cherry eye, which was quite alarming since we knew nothing about this condition.

Roxy finds a handsome playmate
at the Humane Society Pet Walk.
We had taken Roxy to a Hawaii Humane Society Pet Walk and were thrilled to meet other bulldog owners. As the labradors, shiba inus and yes, even the pekinese pups made their way around Ala Moana Park, the bulldogs were hot, pooped and panting after a few hundred yards circling Magic Island. During a long session of enthusiastic and rough bully play, Roxy's eye became irritated when another dog drooled mud and frothy spittle onto her face. Almost immediately, her eye turned red and by the time we brought her home, the pink mucosa of her lower eyelid was swollen and inflamed, nearly obliterating her vision in the left eye.

Not Miss Roxy, but a photo to illustrate the extent of her cherry eye.

After much internet searching, we learned that cherry eye is a prolapse or protrusion of a dog's third eyelid (who knew they had three eyelids!), often associated with a "congenital weakness of the gland's attachment in the dog's eye" (PetMD). Certain breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Lhasa Apsos, and Shih Tzus, are more predisposed to this condition. After reading that surgical intervention to remove the gland may be necessary (along with medical interventions such as eye drops to reduce the inflammation), we decided to explore less drastic options.

After cleaning her eye, we reduced the cherry eye by slowly and gently massaging it back into place, as illustrated in the video below, then applied cool wet compresses to the affected eye. The cherry eye recurred three times over the next 12 hours, and needed to be massaged back into place. Keeping Roxy calm, clean and comfortable over the long ordeal finally paid off. By the next day she had only a minor pink medial protrusion, which soon resolved.

Cherry eye should not be left unresolved, or other complications may arise. According to Dr. Jim Young, DVM,
"Dogs have three eyelids, upper lid, lower lid and the third eyelid. The third eyelid is under the lower eyelid in the corner toward the nose. There is a gland under the third eyelid. If this gland is swollen, it pops out as a little pink “cherry” in the inside corner of the eye. If we catch this early, we can show you how to replace the gland under the third eyelid and have you medicate the eye to get the gland to shrink back to normal size. If we are not successful in getting the gland to return to normal size and position, the cherry eye will need surgery.
There are two methods to surgically treat cherry eyes. We can remove the gland with laser surgery or we can refer your bulldog to a veterinary ophthalmologist to have the gland sutured back in place. Once a dog has had a cherry eye, he has an increased chance of having "dry eyes" later in life no matter what the treatment. Studies (in other breeds) have shown a lower chance of "dry eyes" with the suture down surgery."
Another good article: Cherry Eye in Bulldogs.

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee

Bulldog Health: Foreign Body Ingestion

Everything goes into a bulldog's mouth... everything. No matter how hard we try to puppy-proof the house, little Miss Roxy seems intent on diversifying her culinary experience. Shoes, lawn furniture, plastic bottles, my obscenely expensive ergonomic task chair...nothing is sacred.

And forget Bitter Apple spray deterrent! To Roxy, Bitter Apple is nothing but an exotic spice. Fifteen bucks for a bottle of doggy taco sauce, as Roxy calls it.

Anyone with puppies is familiar with that dreadful silence...when the furball is occupying herself another room, seemingly in quiet contentment.

Nice puppy, you think, congratulating yourself on your superior training skills--all those episodes of Cesar Milan have paid off. Finally, you can catch up on your computer work.

Then all hell breaks loose, and no amount of "quiet, calm assertiveness" can help you.

What Roxy chose to chew on, one fine day, made me long for the glory days of her benign destruction, when all I had to complain about were mangled car seat belts and eviscerated sofas...what my baby chose to chew on was my pin cushion. The cushion was shredded, stuffing was everywhere, and the carpet was strewn with sewing pins. How a squat, 13-inch tall bulldog can jump and retrieve sewing supplies from a 32-inch high shelf is beyond me.

I rushed her to the nearest VCA animal hospital and was given two options:
  1. Do nothing. Maybe she didn't swallow pins, and if she did, wait and see if she can pass the pins herself
  2. X-ray to assess whether or not she did swallow pins ($200)
Knowing how chunky our bully is and how roughly she plays, letting sharp objects float around in her gut wasn't an option, and wasn't what the vet would have recommended--after all, if she did swallow some pins, then complications arising from them lodging in her gut and causing a perforation or infection seemed to be a costly way to save money in the short run. We got the x-ray. And we were glad we did, because the little meatball did have a large sewing needle in her tummy.

On to the next set of options:

  1. Wait and see if she'll pass it, and hope it doesn't get lodged and infected
  2. Induce vomiting, which is not guaranteed to dislodge the pin--the position may change, causing the pin to lodge itself in her esophagus, which would require more medical intervention
  3. Scope her. Pass a flexible scope down her throat to see if they can retrieve the pin. Not only would this be expensive, but there would be no guarantee that the scope can remove the pin. In addition, it would require anesthesia and there's the possibility that she could aspirate, since she had a tummy full of kibbles.
  4. Surgery to remove the pin. Yikes! Sure, we'd get that pin, but Yikes!
Funny how the prospect of a silly, drooly, farty baby being harmed can frazzle your ability to make a decision. I decided to call my husband, who happens to be a medical doctor, and he advised that we start with inducing vomiting...it was least costly, least invasive, and if it was ineffective, then voila!--at least then, we'd have a nice empty tummy, which would reduce the chances of aspiration upon scoping.

Roxy went willingly with the vet, her jowls stretched into a goofy bulldog smile, her but wagging. They fed her cotton balls soaked with chicken flavoring--which Roxy woofed with delight--then gave her an emetic to induce vomiting. This did not please Roxy, but in the end, the needle became entangled in the cotton balls, and when the cotton came up, so did the offending needle. Which we have kept, as a souvenir, right alongside her baby teeth.

So what have we learned from this ordeal? Prevention, prevention, prevention. Having Roxy is like having a 50 pound perpetual toddler, and despite Roxy-proofing the home, we must be ever vigilant.

Who knew there was a use for chicken-soaked cotton balls and barf meds would do the trick.
A few months later, while we lunched with Roxy at beautiful Kailua Beach, a visitor from the mainland approached us and asked if she could pet our bully. She was a veterinary assistant, and her clinic once conducted an informal study on what dog breeds swallow the most unusual items. English bulldogs were at the top of the list, ingesting random items such as toys and spoons.

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee

English Bulldog Flowchart

My son created this flowchart after our bulldog, Roxy, tore into the armchair....again.

Doggy Crafts: Paper Bulldog

Here's a cool paper craft bulldog by Tommy Perez, who has two bullies at home:

Doggy Crafts: Knit an English Bulldog!

CanadianLiving.com features a pattern and the instructions to knit a delightful bulldog, from the book Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne. I'm no knitter, but it sure makes me want to learn!

Doggy Crafts: Bulldog

Print and construct an English Bulldog, by artist Hiroshi Haruki.

Dog Ready to Be Killed Just Wanted to Be Loved

An example of the power of love...after years of abuse, this dog was to be euthanized. All it took was three days of love and patience to revert her to the loving dog she was meant to be...

Bulldog of the Year Contest

Check out Cesar Millan's Bulldog of the Year contest: http://www.cesarsway.com/newsandevents/photos/bulldog-of-the-year-gallery.

Reading the contestant profiles, it's so apparent how these lovable, goofy and loyal bulldogs have become members of the family. Voting ends on March 29, so pick your favorite now!

Doggy Dayz of Summer

Little Miss Roxy approves of her fellow canines finding creative ways to beat the heat...

Doggy Crafts: Puppy Origami

For all you doggie lovers, here's some easy print and fold origami...Of course, little Miss Roxy frowns on any craft activity requiring opposable thumbs, which every English bulldog knows are overrated...

Puppy Origami
If you're ready to print your Puppy Origami, Click Here.
Or print pattern:

1a. Print and cut out image along outer solid lines.
1b. Fold in half along diagonal line, as shown.

2a. Fold back along solid line as shown.
2b & c. Fold ears forward along diagonal lines. Your Puppy is pau (done)!

Print Black Puppy
Print Poi Puppy with Lei

Other pups to print and fold:
Puppy OrigamiPuppy Origami

©2009 Tammy Yee. All rights reserved.

Bulldog Versus Monkey

Silly monkey thinks he's a personal trainer. Bulldog will show him.