How to identify skin allergies in your Bull Terrier

Home » How to identify skin allergies in your Bull Terrier

Before I start with this topic I want to tell you something very personal: 95% of the things in this blog are not only thoroughly researched by me but they are actually based on my own experience. And that means that they are also based on mistakes I made myself. It has happened more than one time in my life that I asked myself: “Why did I not know this sooner? Why did I not ask the right questions?”
But at the end of the day there is no reason to beat yourself up about mistakes made of the past.
We always have the chance to learn from them.
So, when you read this and you find yourself doing things now or in the past I describe here as not so good, please don’t take it personal and don’t feel judged. I’ve been there and I have done them myself.


Allergies, especially skin allergies, sadly are part of many Bull Terrier’s lives. This breed – once rated among the healthiest dog breeds in the world – is actually not so healthy anymore.
I blame this on different factors, such as irresponsible breeding, environmental changes and highly processed modern day food. But most of these are topics for another article.
For many Bull Terrier owners it takes a long time to realize that the health problems their dog is suffering from are actually related to allergies.

Why do so many different things cause skin to react?

The skin is the biggest organ of most mammals and it is connected to our inner system. It is the body’s line of defense against influences from the outside and it is willing to do so. All parts of the dog’s body interact in some ways. Hormones that are released from the adrenal glands are acting all over the body. When the intestines are weakened by say antibiotics this can affect the entire body.
When allergies are causing the body to activate its defense mechanisms this can show in the form of itchy and inflamed skin, even if the trigger does not get in direct contact with the skin, but rather comes from the inside (as in the case of nutrition).

Skin allergies in Bull Terriers can be caused by different triggers, the three main causes being:

  • nutrition
  • parasites
  • environment

Very often when people notice their dog suddenly becoming excessively focussed on cleaning themselves by frequently licking different parts of their bodies these owners do not even realize at first that they are dealing with allergies.

What are the symptoms of skin allergies in Bull Terriers?

  • red or raw paws, redness between the toes and under footpads caused by excessive licking and biting
    discolored fur on the paws (coppery red)
  • pustules
    ear infections
  • red belly
  • hair loss
  • lesions and inflamed areas on different parts of the skin

When owners notice their Bull Terriers suddenly licking their paws or other parts more often they should be alert. This could be the first sign of a skin allergy. Many owners wait this out for too long and secondary infection gets good chances to start unnoticed at first.

Many Bull Terriers like licking themselves, other pets in the household and people to keep themselves busy or show affection. To a certain extend that is ok and normal. But even without allergies being present this can easily become obsessive. As Bull Terriers are a very active breed they are prone to developing obsessive behaviors, such as tail chasing or excessive licking, if they are alone and bored for longer periods of time, for example, don’t get enough exercise or if they are mentally on a constantly overexcited level. But excessive licking and biting can also be a sign of allergies.

If you notice excessive licking don’t fool yourself and think that’s only normal. Don’t hesitate to count the incidents and examine your Bull Terrier. Take a look between your Bull Terrier’s toes because that is often a moist area, optimum breeding ground for bacteria and often a lot worse already than it looks from the outside.
It may as well be the case that you do not notice more licking than usual because your dog only does it during alone time or so. But you may notice the color of the fur changing from white into a coppery dirty red instead or in addition. This discoloration is often a sign of excessive licking (as is hair loss on the paws) caused by minerals in the saliva.

If you want to do something, first here’s what you should NOT do:
If you notice red and raw paws, please, do not go the very common route of putting socks over the paws, or a surgery collar around the neck or even worse tape the paws in order to stop the licking and give things a break. This really does not help anything! In bad cases it does quite the opposite! And that is especially true if it is the ONLY measure you take.


The Bull Terrier is licking because its skin is itchy.
If you have ever had a broken limb in your life and had the honors of wearing one of those ancient closed casts you will probably know how dreadful that itch developing inside the cast and the fact that you can’t reach down there scratch yourself can be.
That is exactly what your Bull Terrier experiences when you tape those itchy paws.
The itch doesn’t stop. Only your dog can’t reach it any more to relieve itself.

It also does not really help with healing because neither does it stop the allergy triggers nor does it do anything good to heal the inflammation. In the worst case it traps already accumulated bacteria in a very bacteria-friendly moist environment making everything even worse.

What you can do as a supporting measure is to frequently flush or wipe the paws and between the toes or other infected areas with a non-stinging skin disinfectant especially after walks outside to curb the bacterial growth from that secondary infection and aid the healing. Also you can use medicated (anti-itch) dog shampoo for bathing. Please do not use products formulated for humans! These are formulated for a  different skin ph and only make things worse.
Also, just because the belly may be red and the paws raw that does NOT necessarily indicate that you are dealing with a contact allergy to say grass or your carpet cleaner. Allergic breakouts can happen either locally or systemic (= affecting the entire organism). In case of a contact allergy the trigger is something the skin gets in direct contact with, like an insect bite, for example, or plants. Triggers are often easier to find and avoid. Signs of a systemic allergy can show all over the body. Something the dog eats can cause itch and breakouts in any area of the body. Triggers are much harder to identify.

Read more on page 2

Related Bull Terrier Posts

How to Feed a Dog who has Food Allergies to Beef and Chicken 

How to Feed a Dog who has Food Allergies to Beef and Chicken 

When it comes to allergies of our canine companions, today a dog with food allergies to beef and chicken unfortunately…
Help, my Bull Terrier won't walk!

Help, my Bull Terrier won't walk!

What can I do if my Bull Terrier won't walk? I have found an answer to this question. Find out…
Bull Terrier health issues

Bull Terrier health issues

Bull Terrier health issues become more relevant with aging. In this article I talk about Mila's issues, the measures and…
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

Just stumbled upon your sight and love it!!!!
Wondering why no recent posts?

Reply to  Julie
3 years ago

Hi my baby white stud BT and I don’t seem to get it right over have control of his allergies. Yes I do get steroids pills and antibiotics, he definitely allergic to corn which has been around now 2yrs and rashes on his feet .. 2-3 home baths( topical Shea control lifesavers and GNC sephebarracous (relieve allergic reactions/ rash) I think spelled it wrong . He now on grain canned 1/2 canned per day mixed dry but I don’t fell like it’s enough. Pethonesty multivitamin senior duck. Please I’m open for suggestion

Carole ann tandey
4 years ago

Hi we have a ebt hes 3yrs old. And for the last two years hes been on aquopel for his allergies. We initially thought this would be seasonal but unfortunately hes on it all year round. He also developed folliculitis. He has been prescribed anti biotics which didn’t clear it up so it he was given steroids. We also give him piriton which helps with the itching. And now hes developed small lumps all over his body they seem to be scabbing and drying up. We wash his feet with a mild antiseptic when hes been exercising. We are managing his allergies I dont think hell ever be free of them poor dog. Hes an amazing dog and puts up with alot. Any advice would be great.

Bob Lauver
4 years ago

I’m trying to determine whether scratching I’m seeing in my 12-week-old Bull Terrier puppy is the result of allergy, or neurosis. He has (healing) scabs on his front legs and particularly in the morning seems unable not to scratch. I’ve dremeled his nails so they are rounded, tight to the paw and smooth so he has his best chance for healing. I also redirect with games and toys to try to take the focus off his legs. Aside from the obviously healing injury (which I at first attributed to litter mates), his heart doesn’t really seem to be in it when he’s scratching…almost like “here we go again”. I’m going to the vet next week to get 2nd shots and have this looked at. He’s a terrific pup. I’m just worried for him.

Doug Morales
4 years ago

I foster care bullies & applied medicated powder on skin rashes on bellies for overnight clearing next morning. Bought powder at Dollar Store.
Good luck.

Reply to  Doug Morales
4 years ago

What kind of powder?

Jennifer Gray
Reply to  Doug Morales
3 years ago

I just adopted a 3 year old bull terrier and i noticed he started obsessively licking his privates and his eyes became very red. Today the outer skin of his privates is red, raw and swollen. I am positive he obsessively was licking because he is having allergies.
What is the name of the powder bought at dollar store

4 years ago

My 4 year old bull terrier has been shedding a lot recently, but today as I was brushing his hair, chunks of it started to fall out and at the roots of the hair chunks was some sort of brown bacteria. I’m not too sure what it is.

Cuisette Laatsch
4 years ago

Hi there! Just stumbled on your site while researching for a solution for my poor doggy. “Biggie” is a 4 year old male EBT. About 2 years ago he seemed to suddenly become allergic to EVERYTHING… all feathered things. name it .. I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried a raw diet (that’s how we figured out he is allergic to chicken and beef) and various dry food brands. We’re currently trying Zignature Kangaroo dry food, we’re going on month 3 and not seeing much change. We’ve tried apoquel and didn’t see improvement with that either. He isn’t a big self licker.. but his poor tummy is soooo red! And I can tell he’s itchy and frustrated. I’d so appreciate any ideas you might have. I hope you and your loved one are safe and healthy.

4 years ago

Hello everyone,

I’m looking for help with determining and trying to find answers as to what my 6 month mini is allergic to. He’s on day 4 of antibiotics, I eliminated all treats and feeding now raw diet (salmon) with few grain free natural dry food in the mix. His belly rash and paws are only getting worse. I’m trying to pin point triggers but and wondering if it’s grass that he’s allergic to. I do add probiotics 2-3 times a week and wondering if I should stop giving him antibiotics as I read they may only worsen the problem by wearing his immune system. Will be scheduling a dermatologist appointment tomorrow as his regular Vet is at a loss and does not have experience with the MBT breed or allergies at such a young age. Any advice or suggestions please?

Thank you,

Lazaro Labrador
4 years ago

Bravecto!!!!!!!!! I have a mini bull terrier that was having terrible skin issues. Scrabs everywhere blood blisters on his belly and all. It was so depressing for him and myself. I tried EVERYTHING from 3 different food all grain free. Tried all different types of protein from salmon to bison and nothing was working. Washed him every 2-3 days with oatmeal based shampoos and conditioners. Vet finally found the issue and prescribed bravecto. He was feeling better within a few days and he’s now 95 percent better after a month.

barbara howell
3 years ago

I recently got a bull terrier pit mix that had been rescued from multiple bad homes one I was told she was to be a fight dog her back leg had been broken at some point and she has had a litter at least once at a very young age.from what I was told she’s only about 1 1/2 she had some skin issues and lose of hair but with in a few days of bringing her home she got better then all a sudden it got worse I feel so bad for her gonna start her on grain free food to see if that helps but if any one can give me any advice on the steps I should take how to claim her itching h ow I should bath her anything would really be appreciated

Bianca Tordai
3 years ago

Hi I tried everything with my female bull terrier and vets could not tell me something sure and she still have pustules all over the body. Hypoallergenic food only with a few ingredients she was well for a while and now in 2 days shes full of crusts
What can I do ???

Robert Alvarez
3 years ago

Hello everyone so Lucky is my bt and he is 18 months old, have had him since he was 8 weeks young. He has recently started bitting, licking his legs and paws. Have also noticed a bunch of hair and flakes accumulating in his kennel. Almost looks like dandruff, not sure if dogs get that too? Also has developed a rash around his genitals and redness on his inner thigh. So I’m going to schedule a appointment with a dermatologist to have the proper tests done to hopefully find out what is triggering all of this. Hate to see my boy always scratching and biting himself. Have done a lot of research involving this symptoms and have learned that the best way to go about this is to take him to a dermatologist, but I figured I’d ask some fellow bull terrier owners on there personal experience with there awesome companions. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Fernanda Hussein
3 years ago

Hi, thank you so much for this post, it’s great! I’m also trying to find out the trigger for my BT allergies: constant paw licking and biting. I’m having difficulties with “money-driven” vets, unfortunately, so I’m researching about the home tests sold online. Do you, or anyone here, have any experience with home tests? There are fur and saliva based tests available and they are not cheap so I was wondering if anyone could tell me if they are good/reliable.
I’d appreciate your comments! Thanks!

3 years ago

Hi I have a ebt that is almost thirteen within the last couple of months he has developed zit like sores all his body that pop and bleed. The vet has had him on antibiotics, steroids and now we have added thyroid meds due to bloodwork. We are also giving him probiotics because of him being on antibiotics. Has any one ever run into this before? He is a wonderful dog and dont want him to go thru this.

3 years ago

Would your advise the use of Apoquel, Cytopoint or Atopica on my bull terriers?

Karen Kitch
3 years ago

Hi. My tricolour bully has allergies. His feet break out so bad that he can’t walk. He is poorly at the moment. I have put him on a raw food diet but I think he has been stealing out of the bin. He is really miserable. He is now 6 but has suffered on and off since he was a puppy. The vets won’t do an allergy test because of the cost. Is there anything I am missing and is there anything I can give him to make him feel a bit better

Kathie Quintel
3 years ago

Thank you so much for your information. I have a bull terrier and he suddenly started itching again. When we first bought him he started breaking out in little hives all over his body our veterinarian put them on hills science diet prescription . This worked, I have tried to use some of the more expensive popular brands they say are better for dogs and his little bumps have come back. He exercises outside,This year this spring he has had itching and chewing on his paws. I bought a hypoallergenic shampoo. Our vet said I could give him a half a tablet a Benadryl do you know if he gets real itchy. If it continues he said to bring him in. Your article was very informative and I will look up the pet honesty website thank you. Our bull terrier it’s four years old.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top