What You Need to Know About Feeding Your French Bulldog
The Soaring Popularity of Frenchies
French bulldogs have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. In 2013, they were the 11th most popular dog breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. A short three years later, they'd jumped to the #6 position.
With their soaring popularity, more and more people are adopting Frenchies to be a part of their family. Unfortunately, many people don't know about the French bulldog's specialized dietary needs. They think that wheezing, snorting, coughing and sneezing are just cute little breed characteristics, when they may be warning signs that you're feeding your bulldog the wrong type of food.
Keep reading to explore what French bulldogs need in their diet, the optimal dog food ingredients for a healthy Frenchie and a nice coat, and what ingredients you should definitely avoid if you want a happy bulldog.
Does Your Frenchie Eat Too Fast?
With a cute snort and a loud sniff, French bulldogs are notorious for inhaling their food. These gluttonous little puppies are infamous for being treat-motivated and eating anything they can. If your French bulldog eats too quickly or too much you may be promoting obesity and you can also be increasing her risks of puppy bloat. Bloat is dangerous and kills many Frenchies every year! Slow down how quickly your Frenchie eats to help manage his weight and protect against dog bloat.
Feeding Your Frenchie Wrong Could Be Lethal
Depending on their parents, the typical French bulldog is about a foot tall and weight 16-24 pounds (for girl dogs) and 20-28 pounds (for boy dogs). While a fat, chubby Frenchie may look cute, all that overfeeding is actually lethal.
"A healthy Frenchie is not overweight," warns the French Bulldog Club of America. "Too many pounds can damage their physical structure and shorten their lifespan." That's because the more obese the French bulldog, the more at risk he or she is of experiencing the many health issues this breed can experience.
Follow the label on your Frenchie puppy's food. Every food is different, whether it's canned, raw or dried kibble. Because the calorie density differs from food to food, measure accurately and don't overfeed your Frenchie with snacks or treats. You may feel like you're giving him some extra loving, but you're actually hurting his ability to live a long and happy life!
Common Dog Food Preservatives
For a healthy and allergy-free French bulldog, watch for these common dog food preservatives:
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
These ingredients are VERY common in mass-produced dry kibble. Additionally, common supermarket or grocery store brands (Purina, Iams, Pedigree, Alpo, etc.) contain not only French bulldog-unfriendly preservatives, but also often contain wheat and corn!
What to Avoid (Tip: Most Commercial Dog Food)
"Use consideration to feed a French Bulldog properly," warns the French Bulldog Club of America (FBCA). According to the club, Frenchies need to steer clear of:
- Any foods with artificial preservatives. According to the Whole Dog Journal, many mass-produced commercial dog foods have artificial preservatives in them but find ways to avoid putting those ingredients on the label!
- Excessive protein
- Wheat and corn. "Food allergies are not uncommon in Frenchies," warns the FBCA. Wheat can make your French bulldog gassy and fart a lot. If you want to avoid stinky French bulldog farts, skip the wheat. Additionally, Frenchies are allergic to corn. This ingredient is used in many commercial dog foods as a filler, and it can make your Frenchie break out in skin rashes, skin irritation or even hives!
The Best Foods for French Bulldogs
Now you know what to avoid feeding a French bulldog. But what's the best, optimal diet?
- Check the ingredients label. You want one or more whole meats as the first ingredients on the pet food. French bulldogs love whole meats like lamb, fish (salmon is common in Frenchie diets), beef or chicken. Some premium dog foods, like this grain-free kibble made by Fromm, is made with wild gamebird. Note how duck, peas, and turkey are the first three ingredients. The ingredients listed first on your puppy's feed are the most prominent ingredients in the meal.
- Plant-based proteins. Instead of using cheap fillers, look for premium plant proteins to round out the protein list. Examples that don't provoke an allergy in your dog include vegan sources of protein like lentils and peas. These are hypoallergenic vegetarian proteins that a French bulldog's sensitive digestive system can easily break down and digest. For example, Nulo's grain-free food for Frenchies has plant proteins from whole peas, sweet potato, chickpeas, lentils and dried fruit.
- Healthy fats. Omega-3s keep your Frenchie's coat and skin glossy and healthy. Examples include fish oil and coconut oil. If you're feeding a French bulldog puppy, your vet may recommend a food containing an essential fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While I've used all of the above foods, my current choice is Taste of the Wild's salmon food. Its first two ingredients are salmon and ocean fish, which are both rich in essential fatty acids to keep my puppy healthy, with a gleaming, soft fawn coat.
Can a Bulldog Eat a Raw Diet? (Other Food Types to Consider)
Canned dog food for Frenchies has very similar ingredients when compared to dry food, but typically costs more and is also higher in water. Some people feel this helps to keep their bulldog puppy better hydrated.
Raw food diets are gaining in popularity but are much more work intensive and require lots of freezer and fridge space, plus some prep time. When feeding a Frenchie a raw food diet, watch for the same allergens and ingredients that are problematic in dry kibble. Often, a raw Frenchie diet includes some bones, plus raw meats like liver, kidney, beef or chicken. Some people also mix in plant-based foods like apples or sweet potatoes.
French Bulldog Raw Diet Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups raw chopped meat
- 1/2 cup vegetable/fruit blend (use a blender to break them down and make it easier for your Frenchie to digest)
- 2 teaspoons fish oil
- Vitamin/mineral supplement, as directed on the product
- Mix the above ingredients together.
- Store in your freezer until you're ready to feed your bulldog.
- Over the weeks, alternate the types of meat you use. For example, one week you might use chicken, and another week you might use lamb.
- It's also important to use a vitamin and mineral supplement to fill any nutritional gaps in your raw ingredients. Look for one that contains a wide range of whole foods-based ingredients that provide a spectrum of nutrients. For example, the Better in the Raw for Dogs food supplement derives its minerals from beef liver, kelp (a great source of magnesium) and parsley (high in vitamin K).
What to Know About Raw Foods and Bulldogs
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2017 Jay Duve