Written By: Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA | Professional Services Veterinarian, Wild Earth
October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month – which means it’s time to celebrate these affectionate and loyal companions that are often mislabeled.
If you are a pittie parent, you know just how amazing these dogs are– and you also know that these breeds can be prone to skin issues. Part of celebrating our pittie pups is making sure we keep them happy and healthy, and sometimes it can be a challenge to find ways to help make them more comfortable.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about pit bull allergies, and what you can do to help your fur baby.
Pit Bull Skin Conditions
We know that breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier, are prone to skin conditions, allergies and subsequent skin infections. This is because pit bulls have short fur and do not have a protective undercoat, making their skin vulnerable to environmental allergens and irritants. Genetics also play a role as many skin and coat health conditions are hereditary.
Uncontrollable scratching, excessive licking, paw chewing, ear infections and skin infections are very common symptoms that can occur secondary to allergies, and if left untreated, they can quickly get out of control. Just as with all dogs, Pit Bulls experience three main types of allergies – food allergy, flea allergy, and environmental or contact allergy. Keeping track of what time of year your pittie is itchy, and what symptoms they develop will go a long way to determining the type of allergy.
Believe it or not, your Pit Bull’s allergy symptoms might be from the food they’re eating. The animal-based ingredients in dog food (beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, egg, pork, fish, and rabbit) are responsible for over 3 times as many food allergy cases as the plant-based ingredients. According to a study on PubMed.gov, after five weeks of their dog patients “starting an elimination diet, more than 80% of patients had achieved a remission of clinical signs of CAFR [Cutaneous Adverse Food Reactions].”
That means your dog’s allergies could be eliminated just by changing what they eat, namely by removing those common food allergens, so consider switching their dog food. 86% of customers reported a positive health benefit for their dog after switching to Wild Earth dog food!
If your pup does suffer from food allergies, make sure to eliminate all other sources of animal-based protein, including treats and table scraps. Our Wild Earth treats are a great way to treat your dog, without the itch! Try one of our flavors – Banana and Cinnamon, Strawberry and Beet, or Peanut Butter.
Pit Bulls can be sensitive to irritants in their environment as they have short fur and don’t have a thick undercoat to protect their skin like many other breeds. This means that their skin comes into contact with environmental irritants more often, including grasses and pollen, which can easily be picked up on walks. To help protect your pup from these common allergens, wipe down their paws and bellies after walks with a damp towel.
Other possible environmental allergens can be found in the home, for example dust mites, and contact allergens can include anything your dog comes into contact with, including household cleaning products, detergents, and shampoos. If you suspect your dog is suffering from environmental allergies, speak to your veterinarian. You can also help by changing your HVAC filters regularly, and using powerful air purifiers indoors.
Flea Allergic Dermatitis
Flea allergies, or flea allergic dermatitis (FAD), is the most common dermatologic disease of dogs in the United States. The allergy is to flea saliva so just one bite from a flea can cause an allergic reaction. An important step in ruling out the cause of your dog’s itch is to make sure your pet is on a year-round prescription flea preventative prescribed by your veterinarian.
Try Wild Earth 30% Off Today!
Learn how Wild Earth can help your dog live longer and visit the vet less.
If your Pit Bull starts to develop dry, scaly skin, it may be caused by zinc-responsive dermatosis. This is a common disorder in pit bulls, which can develop at a young age. The issue occurs when dogs don’t get enough zinc in their diets, or cannot digest it properly. It’s a main reason we’ve added zinc to our Skin & Coat supplements.
Signs of zinc deficiency include red, hairless, scaling, crusting, or oozing skin around the mouth, eyes, ears, and chin or lesions on the nose and foot pads. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, please consult with your veterinarian.
Another reason that your dog may be suffering from itchy skin is due to parasites. Parasites such as mange and mites can cause itchy, red skin, and frequent scratching. Unfortunately, pit bulls are the most common breeds in US shelters, and they tend to stay in shelters longer, leading to stress, which decreases the immune system, and makes them more susceptible to mange.
Genetically, pit bulls are prone to skin issues, and can inherit hereditary skin conditions such as zinc deficiency, mentioned above, ichthyosis, and some types of dermatitis.
Allergies cause chronic inflammation and decrease the skin barrier, so coupled with scratching or licking, can lead to infections, which need to be treated. If your pittie has areas of reddish brown discoloration on their fur, for example, this could indicate a yeast infection. If you suspect your pittie has a skin infection, speak with your veterinarian.
We love Pitties! But, sometimes they need a little help with their skin issues…
Keep An Eye On Your Pit Bull!
We love our pets like family and hate to see them uncomfortable. The reality is, Pit Bull’s are more susceptible to skin irritations and allergies than some other breeds. Fortunately, by keeping an eye on their activity, watching how they react to their diet, bathing them as directed, and giving them a supplement if you think they need extra support, can go a long way toward helping them live a more comfortable life!
Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA
Dr. Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva is the Professional Services Veterinarian here at Wild Earth. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Brown University, and attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in general practice, on telehealth platforms, and in animal rehabilitation. She has worked tirelessly to gain expertise in the field of canine nutrition through numerous certifications and coursework, and plans to pursue her Masters in Animal Nutrition.