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:
- Do not wait it out!
- 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.
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.