How to identify skin allergies in your Bull Terrier

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What is secondary infection and why is it called secondary?

Secondary infection is called secondary because it is not what started the chain of allergy problems. While it can become very serious and weakening for the dog’s body it is not the core cause behind the entire allergy problem. It is more like a consequential event.
The core problem is the skin allergy causing itch, causing the Bull Terrier to lick. The licking causes tiny lesions which opens up the way for bacteria sitting in skin folds to enter the damaged parts of the skin and cause inflammation.

The bacterial infection and the subsequent inflammation in the scope of allergies is what is called secondary infection.


If your Bull Terrier has a lot of active secondary infection this can lead to serious problems because over time all of these battle fronts on the body weaken the immune system which is now in a constant state of fight. Read more about this fight in this article about allergies and medication.

This secondary infection is actually what makes your dog really miserable after a while.
Not only regarding skin allergies it is important to realize that Bull Terriers have a very high pain tolerance. And because of that you can be sure that things are very bad already once your dog starts to actually show signs of discomfort or pain and that the situation has already been developing for quite some time.

Secondary infection is also what is usually addressed when the doctor prescribes all of those antibiotics and steroids. The problem is that antibiotics themselves do not only attack harmful microorganisms. They also put a lot of stress on the gastrointestinal tract.
Remember how I explained earlier that basically everything in the body is somehow connected?

That’s when the bad side of antibiotics takes effect. The stressed gastrointestinal system weakens the immune system further making it even more likely that all of the symptoms – itch, licking, and most importantly secondary infection – will soon return right after the treatment with antibiotics ended if the Bull Terrier is still exposed to the triggers of the allergies.

As for the steroids. They really seem like miracle medicine when all of those lesions and infections vanish and the Bull Terrier seems happy and fit again in no time.
But they also will have to be administered again and again once that vicious cycle has been entered. And the longer the dog is taking them the more severely will they contribute to shortening the lifespan of your dog!

So, what should owners of Bull Terriers with skin allergies do?

The best advice is:

  1. Do not wait it out!
  2. And look for the real causes!

See the vet early and focus on finding out what’s triggering those allergies!

Medicated shampoos and disinfecting are good assisting measures to prevent inflammation from becoming worse. But they are no cure! If your Bull Terrier is already impaired to the point when there is no longer a way around antibiotics and steroids make sure that your dog’s immune system gets an extra boost and think about also supporting the gastrointestinal tract.

There are products formulated especially for dogs on the market.
Here are just three examples (there’s a lot more on the market):
NuPro
Nuvet
Nusentia Pet Probiotic

As a side note: Vets who are experienced with allergies often have recommendations on supplements and special nutrition ready. BUT, many vets such as human doctors as well are frequently visited by pharmaceutical und nutritional salesmen aiming to establish THEIR products in the market. A vet’s recommendation does not necessarily have to be bad advice. But it is almost certain that there are also other options in the market – some maybe even better than the vet’s recommendation. When it comes to food – we will talk about this also a little later in detail – manufactured special foods for allergies will often be the recommended ones. But especially in the case of food allergies a raw nutrition could make all the difference.

If you repeatedly run into the situation that your dog has to take rounds of steroids and antibiotics please know that you are probably waiting too long when the problems return and that the way out of this cycle is very hard but in no scenario ongoing treatment with these medications is a good solution. This therapy repeated over and over will impact the longterm health of your dog and has the potential of making things worse for the reasons explained above.

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13 thoughts on “How to identify skin allergies in your Bull Terrier

    • Well, I am not going to make up excuses. I am in the same boat with many people: This is my hobby project and I always need to find time to write & publish more articles besides working my regular job and having a family. I still have some unpublished topics I want to talk about and I am trying to add more new content very soon.
      However, if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to write about, please just let me know. If I am able to say something relevant about the topic, I will make that one of my next stories.

  1. 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.

    • Scabs on the front legs more likely originate from excessive licking.
      This can have different reasons, from boredom to allergies.
      It is a very good idea to bring this up at your next vet visit.
      Also, if you want to give your pup’s immune system a boost, check out NuPro or NuVet and think about a little good quality fish oil now and then for omegas.
      Both, NuPro and NuVet are great supplements to help your pup getting the nutrients it needs during growth.

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

  3. 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.

    • Hello Sophia,
      sorry for answering so late. But I would only be able to speculate what this could be or could have been. Maybe it has resolved in the meantime.
      To me that sounds like it could be some kind of yeast issue.
      But there are a number of reasons why Bull Terriers loose hair or get bumps. And the brown specs could as well be something entirely different than yeast.
      Very often hair loss and bumps are related to allergy and environmental factors, nutrition or both.
      In these cases it is vital to look at every aspect of the animal’s live. Does it experience sudden stress, sudden changes that could cause stress? Has the nutrition changed? Does the dog show any other signs of discomfort or illness? Is the dog itchy?
      There is so much to consider that after making a list of these things I would always suggest to have the dog evaluated by a veterinarian, especially because a lot of ailments in this category and in particular if you ARE in fact dealing with yeast overgrowth, these issues do not resolve until the underlying factors change.
      Good luck! Very sorry for not being more helpful.
      But without seeing the dog and knowing a lot more about the issue, it is just impossible to give really helpful advice over the internet.

  4. 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. .beef..grains..you 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.

    • Hello Cuisette,
      so sorry to hear about your dog suffering so badly. Even though Bull Terriers are known for skin issues and allergies being very common among the breed, and even other breeds starting to more and more sensitive over time often from consuming a lot of very high processed food, this really sounds like an extra special case.
      Kudos for taking on the challenge and taking such great care of your little one! Your dog is just lucky to have you.
      Unfortunately besides the usual tips, such as keeping Biggie very clean, use only care products formulated for very sensitive dog skin, try coconut oil (if that does not get licked off!) to soothe the belly and try to add a vitamin supplement to the nutrition if tolerated to boost the dog’s immune system, I admittedly do not have a whole lot in my quiver for this case, which makes me sad.
      If you are at the point where Apoquel – a medication that should only be considered when all other options are exhausted – does not bring any visible relief, I can’t offer any more ideas.
      This will likely remain a day to day journey for all of you.
      The only thing that comes to my mind when I read your story is that I really feel like, if you can’t find any kind of nutrition that helps with the redness and itchiness, is this really food related? Because, honestly, this is a loooong list of allergies. I’ve heard of such cases in the past. I know they do exist.
      But if you have not done this so far – which I doubt – but just in case, you may want to look deeper into all the environmental factors around your dog. Maybe there IS something else at least contributing. I don’t know if this input is of any help. But I sincerely hope it is.

  5. 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,
    Rita

    • Hi Rita,
      I just told another owner about how hard it is to detect the causes of allergies. You are right that antibiotics are not great for the gut and can sometimes do more harm than good. But at this point I would probably not stop giving it, the reason being: Stopping now would mean having exposed the dog to the side effects without giving the medicine a chance to do its work. But that is only my opinion. I want to stress that I am NOT a doctor and this is NOT medical advice. I have not seen your dog and there may be circumstances I do not even know about that make you think about stopping the antibiotic and that may be very valid. Therefore, for the final decision the prescribing vet would be the best person to discuss this with.
      Adding probiotics definitely sounds like a good idea to me.
      Just as with young children in puppies it takes some time for the immune system to develop and they can experience allergies at a young age.
      Sometimes they literally grow out of it. But not in every case. Sometimes they grow up fine and allergies start breaking out at a later age. Allergies are not tied to any particular age in general.
      No matter if puppy or grown adult, the best chance to find allergy triggers is either testing, if available, or exclusion. Taking a look at everything that may have changed for the dog since the breakout started and limiting exposure to the things that have changed if that is possible.
      If it is seasonal you will probably need some time to watch it recurring or have an allergy test performed.
      One thing you can definitely do during breakouts it try to prevent secondary infection which usually is what requires the treatments with antibiotics.
      Disinfectant, mild shampoos, epsom salt baths, disinfecting wipes … there are several things that can be used.
      Avoiding secondary infection is one of the most important things besides finding the allergy’s trigger, because they are what usually puts a LOT of additional stress on the immune system of your dog and make it feel more miserable in general.

  6. 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.

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