Have a Pitbull that's scratching and chewing like crazy? You're not alone. Pitties are predisposed to a wide range of skin conditions and allergies. Not only that, but their short fur provides very little protection against environmental factors.
Many owners think that the occasional rash is nothing more than a minor irritation. But those who have owned Pitbulls for a long time know that innocent itchy spots can be the precursor to something even more severe.
Even the most sheltered Pittbull is bound to experience irritation at some point in their life. The key to providing your dog with some relief is identifying its source and knowing how to address it.
6 Common Causes of Pitbull Skin Problems
There's no single irritant that can lead to skin complications. There are several! Understanding what triggers your dog's skin can help you avoid these issues and provide ongoing relief. Here are some of the most common irritants that plague the Pitbull breed.
#1. Dog Food Allergies
Believe it or not, food allergies are pretty standard with Pitties. Unfortunately, these dogs just don't agree with many of the ingredients you find in commercial dog food products.
Your pup may not have any issues scarfing the food down when it's placed in front of them. But, they'll pay for that eagerness later!
Many Pitbulls are allergic to multiple ingredients. Some of the most common offenders are corn, wheat, and soy. Often used as cheap fillers, they have very little nutritional value and often do more harm than good. In addition to skin issues, they may cause gastrointestinal upsets.
Some canines are allergic to the protein source. Chicken, beef, and dairy allergies are quite common with Pitbulls. The same goes for fish and wheat.
The easiest solution to addressing food-related Pitbull skin allergies is to change up the diet. You can ask your vet to perform an allergy test. Or, you can narrow down the allergens by switching your dog to a limited-ingredients diet.
#2. Pest Issues
When most people think of skin issues and itchiness, they automatically jump to fleas. While fleas could wreak havoc on your dog's system, it's the other pests that test to plague Pitbulls.
Microscopic mange is a real problem with Pitties. Tiny mites overpopulate the hair follicle, preventing it from growing naturally. This results in noticeably bald spots throughout the body. Itchiness, inflammation, and pain are common, too.
Pitbulls are so affected by mange that many will scratch until they bleed. This can open up a can of worms regarding infection, so you have to be careful and provide treatment as soon as possible.
Fortunately, even widespread mange is treatable. Medicated dips and shampoos will take care of the problem. Though, your dog may need time to recover from physical wounds caused by scratching.
#3. Dry Skin
Also known as ichthyosis, dry skin is an issue that not too many dog owners consider. It's a condition that usually makes itself known when Pitbulls are still puppies. Some will experience it as adults through extensive self-licking.
Dry skin is itchy and uncomfortable. Many dogs will develop small lesions called hotspots. Those spots are ultra-irritating, presenting a persistent issue that determined dogs will fight at to get relief.
Again, Pitties can go overboard with dry skin and hotspots. There's a genuine risk of deep cuts and infections.Most veterinarians will recommend topical solutions to address dry skin and hotspots.
Medicated shampoos, lotions, and oils will do the trick in most cases. You can also try a homemade anti itch spray for dogs
#4. Mineral Deficiencies
Zinc deficiencies can cause dry, flaky, and scaly skin in Pitbulls. It's known as zinc responsive dermatosis. These deficiencies are relatively common in Pitties, usually appearing when the dog is a puppy.
Interestingly enough, dogs can consume adequate amounts of zinc and still have issues. Some dogs simply cannot digest and absorb the zinc efficiently.
Typically, irritated skin comes with a few other symptoms when caused by zinc deficiencies. You might see bald spots, scaly skin, and crusty areas around the mouth and eyes.
The solution here is to supplement the zinc they're not getting. You can do this with supplements and specially formulated diets. Consult with your vet to see how much zinc your pup needs to get healthy.
#5. Environmental Allergens
Your precious pooch encounters all kinds of allergens throughout the day! All it takes is one bad apple to cause chaos in your pup's system.
Pitbulls have short fur that doesn't offer a ton of protection from things like pollen and grass. Romping through your backyard exposes them to tons of irritants that might not agree with their system. Your dog may even come across a new environmental allergen on daily walks.
Another overlooked issue is sun exposure. Canines are fully capable of experiencing sunburn and other complications. Without proper protection, your dog is at risk of suffering from all of those issues.
Your best bet here would be to avoid irritants. But because that's not always possible, your vet may recommend allergy medicine or additional precautions.
#6. Product Sensitivity
Chemicals in and around your home may be to blame, too. Cleaning products can stick behind long after you use them. Pair that with the harsh fumes, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Everything from the soap you used to mop the floor to the detergent you used to wash your pup's favorite blanket could be the problem.
Even the products you use on your dog could be irritating them! Soaps, shampoos, and topical sprays all have the potential to cause a Pitbull rash.
It can take some time to figure out which product is the culprit. It may take some trial and error to narrow things down. But once you find that irritant, addressing the issue is as easy as removing it from your home.
Pitbull Skin Care Techniques
Now that you understand common irritants and Pitbull skin allergies, let's talk about some treatment options. There are many ways to address skin problems.
Chances are, you'll have to combine a couple of methods to give your dog relief. The trick is to start as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the worse those issues can become.
Improving Your Dog's Diet
If your dog's diet is causing trouble, a changeup is in order.
Food allergies can be tricky to work around. Many dog food manufacturers use the same protein sources, carbohydrates, and fillers. While there are always variations in the formula, you're going to see a lot of chicken and beef!
For dogs that are allergic to common ingredients, more "out-of-the-box" recipes are worth a try. Many brands make products that contain unconventional ingredients. They're meant to help dogs with common allergens.
You might see protein sources like kangaroo, venison, or even crocodile meat. The point with those products is that they don't contain any known irritants.
Another option is to use a limited ingredients formula. These products only have a few essential ingredients. All of the fancy extras are left by the wayside. They make it easy to narrow down potential allergens and give you greater control over what your pooch is eating.
Add Omega Fatty Acids
Did you know that mega-3 fatty acids support the skin?
Many think that omega fatty acids only help with heart health and circulation. While they do benefit those areas, they also improve skin quality in dogs. The fatty acids keep the skin supple, which ultimately supports the fur and avoids skin complications.
Adding some fatty acids into your dog's diet can make a world of difference. You can provide salmon oil, which is rich in the stuff. Flaxseed oil works, too!
Many dog foods already contain those ingredients. However, you can also add them separately in the form of supplements or oil. Either way, the addition can treat a bevy of conditions in one fail swoop.
Topical Oil Application
Sometimes, a good rubdown with oil will do the trick.
Some oils have natural healing properties that can soothe the skin. Take, for example, coconut oil. It has anti-fungal properties. Plus, it smells great and is safe if your dog licks it off.
Take some extra virgin coconut oil and rub it on the affected area a few times. Repeat this process a few times until symptoms of irritation subside.
Prescription Medications and Injections
In severe cases, your vet may recommend medications. Antihistamines, cyclosporine, and prednisone are all practical choices.
The medication may help alleviate symptoms temporarily. Dogs that suffer from seasonal environmental triggers may need to use them for several months at a time.
Medications aren't a permanent fix, but they can buy you some time while you and your vet try to figure out a more permanent solution.
The same goes for injections. Some injections, such as Cytopoint, can provide relief from a Pitbull rash for up to eight weeks! But again, it's only a temporary solution that most vets will only supply during flare-ups.
It's never fun to watch your Pitbull suffer in silence. While these dogs have a reputation for being super tough, skin issues are just as debilitating for them as any other breed.
As an owner, it's your job to be hyper-aware of the issues your dog faces. Keep an eye out for allergens, and do your best to avoid them. By being proactive, you can limit exposure as much as possible and prevent severe flare-ups from occurring at all.
If your dog is suffering, try some of these Pitbull skin care techniques. They might be the solution your dog needs.