Among dog breeds, the Bulldog is special for several reasons, most of them very positive. That being said, one of the negative aspects of the bulldog breed is that they are more susceptible to developing skin issues, including a reddish-pink color around their mouth or muzzle. In this article, we’ll take a look at what, exactly, can cause the condition and what, if anything, can be done about it.
All dogs produce the chemical porphyrin in their tears and saliva which can cause redness on their faces. A pink muzzle is more common in bulldogs than other breeds due to their flat faces and wrinkly skin, because the saliva and tears more easily accumulate within their face folds.
What causes Pinkness Around the Mouth and Eyes of Bulldogs?
There seem to be several causes for the pink staining that occurs around the eyes and muzzles of Bulldogs, so let’s take a closer look at them. For my bulldog, a lot of the pinkness is due to the smearing of tearstains on his muzzle. I’ve been able to reduce the off coloring using angel eye wipes found on Amazon.
Bacteria and Yeast
One of the most endearing aspects of the bulldog breed is their wonderful wrinkles but, unfortunately, those wrinkles can harbor bacteria and yeast which, over time, can cause skin issues that can sometimes become severe. If this happens your bulldog will often lick, rub or chew on the infected area, especially around their eyes and muzzle. This, in turn, can cause the pinkish color that you’re seeing. By the way, it can also happen to their ears, toes and groin area.
In a dog’s tears and saliva is a substance called porphyrin that occurs naturally. Over time their constant licking of the fur and skin around their muzzle and eyes can change the color to a pink hue due to this substance, especially if they’re licking a lot or if their eyes tend to tear a lot. The good news is that the stained skin and fur aren’t harmful. The bad news is that they might be symptoms of an underlying dental or other health problem.
Interestingly, dogs have 3 eyelids, including bulldogs. While this is necessary to help them see and produce tears, the 3rd eyelid, also known as the ‘nictitating membrane’ can sometimes become mispositioned or ‘prolapsed’. This problem, sadly, is found more in bulldogs that other dog breeds and is one of the major causes of the pink or red color seen in their eyes. This is also sometimes referred to as ‘cherry eye’ and is termed conjunctivitis.
The good news is that cherry eye is treatable and, in most cases, is only see in younger dogs that are 2 years old or less. Also, it’s usually seen in only 1 eye (but can affect both) and will cause your pet to scratch away incessantly, which can cause more problems and so should be treated as soon as possible.
Cysts and Polyps
If your bulldog has a cyst or polyp in their mouth it can and usually does cause excess saliva and, due to the aforementioned porphyrin, can lead to the pinkish staining we’re talking about. Of course, if this is the case the dog should be treated as soon as possible.
If your Bulldog is suffering from any type of periodontal disease it can cause a major buildup of plaque and bacteria which can lead to inflamed gums or gingivitis. This, in turn, will cause an increase in salivation and, due to the porphyrin, the pink tint you’re seeing.
If your dog is suffering from any allergies those allergies can cause excess saliva and/or tears to be made and, again, the pink color that affects their muzzle and eyes.
Like allergies, dental disease and the other health problems we’ve talked about, a bulldog that’s under a lot of stress will create more saliva and tears and get the same, porphyrin-produced pinkness.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Depending on certain factors like their environment and overall health, your bulldog can develop dry eyes. When this happens, it is because their tear ducts aren’t making enough tears to keep the eyes moist and, in most cases, can make their eyes quite red (much the same as in humans).
Corneal Ulcers and Glaucoma
2 of the most serious illnesses your bulldog can suffer are glaucoma and corneal ulcers, both of which should be treated right away and both of which can cause serious redness of their eyes. Glaucoma can also cause a lot of pain and so if that’s the problem causing your bulldog’s pink or red eyes, it should be treated immediately.
Do All Bulldogs Get Pink Faces and Eyes?
The occurrence of pink muzzles and eyes can happen to all bulldogs but some are affected more than others. The fact is, with their relatively flat faces, the bulldog breed is much more susceptible than other breeds to this problem. As we’ve mentioned earlier, however, the pink or ‘cherry’ eye that affects them usually only happens to younger dogs. But, since all dogs have the substance porphyrin in their tears and saliva, and all dogs normally salivate and shed tears, nearly all bulldogs will get pink muzzles from time to time.
The real question is how often the problem occurs. If it’s just once in a while then your pet is probably just fine. If it’s happening all the time then there might be an underlying cause (which we’ve already discussed, above) that needs to be treated by a vet.
Should Bulldog Owners Be Concerned about their Pet Having a Pink or Reddish Muzzle and Eyes?
Yes and no. Again, as we’ve already discussed, the pink color can come from several different sources/causes, including the chemical porphyrin, bacteria, yeast, problems with their teeth, stress, cysts, polyps and allergies, dry eyes and more.
If your bulldog has this pink color all the time it may be a sign that they have an underlying health problem that you should have taken care of by a trained veterinarian. On the other hand, normal salivating and eye tearing can cause this pink color as well from time to time and is normal. So the best thing you can do is keep tabs on when, and how often, your bulldog is having the problem and, if you suspect it’s occurring too often, have them checked out by your local vet to discover if there’s something happening that needs to be medically treated.
What Do Veterinarians Say about the Pink Color on the Face and Eyes of Bulldogs?
Veterinarians are trained to know the difference between a normally occurring situation and one that requires attention and treatment. When it comes to pink or red eyes they will be more concerned because it can be a symptom of conjunctivitis (cherry eye) and could cause lasting harm to your pet. As for the pink color on their muzzles, most vets will ask how often it is happening and, if you tell them it happens a lot, will look for an underlying cause that goes beyond the naturally occurring chemical porphyrin.
The good news, as we’ve mentioned, is that a slight, occasional pink color of their muzzle and eyes is completely natural and no cause for alarm. It isn’t harmful to your bulldog or its’ skin and will come and go depending on different environmental factors.
Can Pink Muzzle and Pink Eyes Be Treated?
Yes, although sometimes it isn’t necessary. As we’ve talked about already, a slight pink color around their muzzles and eyes can be caused by porphyrin, a natural chemical all dogs make in their tears and saliva. If this is the only cause of your bulldog’s pink muzzle and eyes then there’s no need for alarm and no need for treatment either.
On the other hand, if the pink or red coloration is being caused by one of the other illnesses or maladies we’ve mentioned, treatment is available and should be sought as soon as possible. There is a test called the Schirmer test that can determine what’s happening, as well as blood tests and others. Once the exact cause of the discoloration is found your vet will prescribe the correct medication and other treatments that will either solve the problem or, in the case of glaucoma, ease your pooch’s pain.
Do Other Breeds of Dog Experience this Pink Coloration?
Yes, most definitely. All dogs produce the chemical porphyrin in their tears and saliva and thus can be affected, although in some dogs the color change will be brown instead of pink. However, the pink discoloration problem occurs more frequently in bulldogs because of the many wrinkles and folds of skin that they have. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels tend to get this discoloration around their gums due to infection, for example, while other dog breeds are more susceptible to allergies and other health issues.
A pink muzzle and eyes are more common in bulldogs than other breeds due to their flat faces and wrinkly skin. In many cases, this is normal due to the chemical in their tears and saliva, although it can also be an indicator of an underlying health issue.
If you see that your bulldog has a pink muzzle and/or eyes all the time, or they are scratching, licking and chewing incessantly, your best choice is to bring them to your local veterinarian to have them checked. As with all living creatures that can’t talk, taking care of your bulldog means keeping mental notes on their behavior, color, coat, and other factors and, if you see a change or feel that they are in discomfort, make sure to get them treated so that they can recover and get back to being the lovable pet that you adore.