Other skin issues
In terms of itch and infection, however, the culprit are not always allergies.
If your dog suffers from frequent ear infections this can be a sign for allergies as well OR it could be mites.
Also excessive licking, discolored brown nails and brown dirt-like smear in skin folds combined with obvious itch can point towards an overactivity of skin mites (parasite).
Therefore in case it is at first not really clear if the dog is actually suffering from allergies a vet visit is the only reasonable option.
Two tests should be performed: One for allergies and one for mites. The treatment of either mites or allergies is very different while the symptoms can look very similar.
Also mites can come of top of an allergy problem when the immune system is already weakened.
Which therapies make sense?
The treatment actually depends on the trigger, which again makes it very important to find the trigger of the skin allergy.
While a mite infestation is usually only controllable by a (often long-term) medicated therapy, allergies can not be HEALED by medication.
The best strategy is to find and avoid the trigger.
Learn more in this article about how allergies work and how they can be treated.
If your dog is dealing with systemic allergies and it looks like they are food-related, an exclusion diet can make sense.
Exclusion in this case means that an ingredient suspected to be the allergy trigger is completely left out of the dog’s food for a while. If the condition improves it shows that thee trigger has been found and successfully avoided. This can then be continued in the future. If the condition persists the next ingredient under suspicion is left out in order to see if that brings any improvement. This process takes time for the changes to take effect. And there should only be one of the suspected ingredients be left out at a time. This is the only way to reliably identify the allergy trigger when using this method. But it gets more complicated if different triggers are involved, which can be the case.
In order to find the trigger using an exclusion diet, a switch to a homemade balanced diet with very limited ingredients can be the solution to get the situation under control. The reason is that raw/homemade diets – provided they are composed in the proper way – are not only of better quality than most kibbles. They also allow the largest amount of control over the ingredients and the best options to limit or eliminate nutritional allergy triggers.
Another approach to identify local or systemic triggers – expensive but also effective in many cases – is allergy testing. This can be done by a vet and can bring the answers needed to provide relief to the dog by avoiding the allergy’s trigger/s.
If the dog is in bad shape and the immune system weakened from the allergy symptoms, much inflammation present and the situation very critical, medication, such as antibiotics and/ or steroids may be needed to get the condition under control. But once the trigger has been found and can be avoided, no more medication should be necessary!
In the case of environmental allergies, however, avoiding can become a hard task. Triggers from the environment are usually contact allergens and often produce symptoms right where they get in contact with the body. If it turns out to be a detergent or a certain substance used in the household it is easier to avoid them. But if the triggers come from mother nature these allergies can mean lifelong medical treatment because there is no way to avoid these triggers.
In my experience with Bull Terriers nutrition plays a key role in the overall health, skin allergies and other ailments
Not only are the most common triggers for skin allergies in Bull Terriers related to nutrition. But even if that is not the case nutrition has a huge impact on how your Bull Terriers’s body is able to handle illness and allergies.
A strong and well nurtured body and a strong immune system are the best armor against illness.
The wrong nutrition on the other hand is not only not helpful. It can really worsen everything.
If the immune system is weak already it has nothing to put into the fight against ailments and it will be down in no time, leaving the dog with no defenses.
Some ingredients in modern highly processed pet foods, such as fillers (often grains) used in large amounts in some kibble varieties, are not allergy triggers themselves. But this ingredient puts stress on the digestive system of the Bull Terrier because it is not designed to deal with these amounts of non-animal-sourced nutrients. This can cause gas and irritated stomach or go completely unnoticed, but causing inflammation in the guts and weakening the immune system.
There is generally nothing wrong with taking advantage of the convenience of processed foods and feeding kibble. But it should be a good quality product. By-products, fillers and grains should be avoided. Animal protein should be the first ingredient.
The list of ingredients on a bag of food – even though it does not exactly tell amounts – tells you about the ratio of ingredients. The ingredients are sorted in descending order. That means the ingredients contained in larger amounts appear at the top of the list.
There is a great website to compare dog foods – dogfoodadvisor. The food you choose should be a 4.5 – 5 star rated food. But I also encourage you to read more about the particular foods you are considering because the description tells you even more about their contents.
Highly rated and high-protein foods can either be plant- or animal-based. I prefer animal-protein-based foods, meaning that the majority of the contained protein is sourced from animal parts and not from plants.
Always remember: Proper nutrition is the key to a healthy Bull Terrier!
I had to learn that myself the hard way. And today Mila is the perfect example of the truth behind this motto. I noticed a certain predisposition for skin issues in her and she is prone to yeast issues as so many Bull Terriers are. But she is looking and feeling good on her nutrition and we have never had any real problems other than a small pimple now and then.