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Hives?! Oh my! Why do French Bulldogs get hives?

Hives?! Oh my! Why do French Bulldogs get hives?

If you discover hives on your French Bulldog, you are not a bad pet parent, and your Frenchie is not the only one.

If you want a French Bulldog, allergies, and the veterinary adventure that goes along with them are nearly guaranteed to become part of your pet parenthood journey.

According to Dr. Patty Khuly of VetStreet, who owns three French Bulldogs who have all suffered from allergies; "Skin and ear diseases are commonly inherited in the breed…

This means lots of home care, frequent trips to the veterinarian… expens[ive] allergy testing, food trials, allergy vaccines, and chronic medication must be employed".

Hives are caused by allergies, insects, or skin infections. According to VetStreet, Frenchies and other Brachycephalic breeds are prone to allergies and skin issues.

If you discover hives on your French Bulldog, schedule a veterinary appointment for her to be examined. Never attempt to medicate your French Bulldog with human medications at home without a veterinarian's direction.

What are hives?

According to Dr. Katy Nelson of PetMD, hives are raised, red bumps that appear on a dog's skin. Hives generally appear very quickly after exposure to an allergen.

Dr. Tammy Hunter of VCA Hospitals describes the appearance of hives as follows: "The individual welts can vary in size from about 5 mm (1/4 inch) to several Cm in diameter, and if there are a large number of welts, they can blend together. The hives are usually very itchy."

What causes hives?

According to FrenchieWiki, your French Bulldog may have allergies for a variety of reasons:

French Bulldogs may inhale allergens, such as breathing in mold, pollen, or cigarette smoke.

Frenchies may physically contact allergens, such as rolling in poison ivy, using a perfume or grooming product, or coming into contact with household cleaning products.

A Frenchie bitten by an insect may experience hives; bees and fleas are known to cause hives. A regular flea infestation may cause hives, and some dogs are allergic to fleas, worsening the severity of the reaction.

Severe ear infections may cause hives to develop around the ears or across a French Bulldog's head between the ears.

If a Frenchie consumes food allergens they may experience hives.

Though this rarely occurs, the administration of vaccination may also cause hives. The hives usually appear very quickly after a vaccine is administered.

If you notice hives appear the same day your French Bulldog got a vaccination, call your veterinarian to bring her back to be examined.

What to do if you find hives on your French Bulldog

If you find hives on your Frenchie, start here:

  • If you believe it was an environmental allergen, take your French Bulldog inside to distance her from the allergen.
  • If the weather is hot, take your French Bulldog inside to air conditioning to prevent overheating and reduce her urge to itch.
  • Apply a cold compress to the hives to alleviate itching.
  • Call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment.

If your French Bulldog develops hives on their face and throat, according to Vet Street, this may be considered a medical emergency, as swelling on the face and throat impact their ability to breathe.

Swelling of the face and throat may impact Frenchies more severely than other breeds of dogs as a result of their short snouts, known as Brachycephalic Syndrome.

If you are not sure if you should take your French Bulldog to the vet to be examined, watch this video about skin allergies in pets to help determine if veterinary care is needed.

Determining the Cause

Hives are caused by exposure to an allergen. According to Vet Street, your French Bulldog's veterinarian will want to perform allergy tests to determine what caused the hives.

Thankfully, your veterinarian has several options available to address the exact cause of your French Bulldog's allergies and hives:

According to VetStreet, Intradermal skin testing is occasionally performed by your French Bulldog's regular veterinarian, however, you will likely be referred to a specialist, a veterinary dermatologist, for this test.

Intradermal skin testing involves a portion of your French Bulldog's coat being shaved, and a variety of allergies being injected into their skin.

They must return to the veterinarian to have the allergen sites evaluated to determine their allergies. It is very important for your Frenchie to be carefully monitored during the waiting period, as the injection of the allergens may necessitate emergency treatment.

Serum allergy testing requires a blood sample to be drawn and sent to a laboratory for testing.

Mistaken Identity

The ringworm fungus may be mistaken for hives. According to the American Kennel Club, ringworm is a zoonotic disease, meaning that both people and pets can become infected.

This makes seeking veterinary treatment an urgent matter to prevent other family members from becoming afflicted with the ringworm fungus.

Treating Hives

Veterinarians prescribe either oral or topical antihistamines to treat hives. These cannot be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Never use human antihistamines to treat your Frenchie's hives, unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.

Hives may appear as a result of seasonal allergies. If you and your veterinarian are able to pinpoint the cause of the hives and allergies to a season, you are able to obtain a prescription shampoo to help prevent future hives or reduce the severity of future hives brought on as a result of seasonal allergies.

Being aware of your Frenchie's allergies will help you prepare for future outbreaks, and give you the ability to keep your Frenchie more comfortable.


French Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds are unfortunately prone to skin issues and allergies. Many owners will spend significant amounts of money on veterinary care to determine what causes their Frenchie's allergies