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Black and white Pit Bull with red eye

The essentials

  • There might be a genetic predisposition for allergies — Multiple sources note that the pitbull breed can be prone to allergies.
  • Your vet can help you make a custom plan to help — No two allergy experiences are the same. Your vet can help you build a custom plan that works.
  • Don’t overlook dietary contributors — It might not be just pollen to blame. Your pit can also suffer from hidden allergens in food or treats.

Pit bull allergies and how to treat them

There are many reasons why your pit bull has allergies. A few of the different causes of your pit bull’s allergies include:

Environment. Since pit bulls have a sleek undercoat, they don’t have thick fur to protect them from environmental irritants like other dog breeds. Grasses, pollen, and other environmental irritants your dog comes into contact with on a walk could trigger an allergic reaction.

Underlying medical concerns. Fungal infections and yeast infections that develop in moist areas like your dog’s ears, paws, and groin could be what’s causing your dog’s skin conditions.

Internal and external parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mites can result in skin symptoms like itching, excessive scratching, and hair loss. Some dogs can also have a flea allergy, which causes their skin to overreact to the bite of even a single flea.

Grooming and cleaning products. Shampoo, detergent, and perfume could irritate your pit bull’s sensitive skin.

Food. Some pit bulls can suffer from food allergies. If a dog has food allergies, typically it’s because they are sensitive to the more commonly used protein source within dog foods, like beef, lamb meat, chicken, or pork.

Seasonal allergies. Pit bulls are susceptible to seasonal allergies, just like humans. Seasonal allergens, like certain types of pollen, may irritate your pit bull.

Medication. Just like food, dogs can also be allergic to certain types of medications.

👉 Your veterinarian can diagnose your pit bull’s allergies and help you treat them.

Common signs of allergies in pit bulls

The specific symptoms of allergies seen in dog breeds vary depending on the cause. These symptoms are the most common signs of dog allergies:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Dandruff
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Hair loss
  • Hot spots
  • Hives
  • Excessive scratching, biting, and licking
  • Nasal discharge
  • Paw chewing
  • Scabs or sores
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes

Contact allergens and inhaled allergens, along with subtle food allergies, separately are possibly not that severe. But, during certain times and places all three stacked up together make for marked changes in the allergy and itching threshold for the pit bull and other dogs.

Dr. Bruce Armstrong

Types of allergies in pit bull dogs

While seasonal allergies can irritate your furry friend, they might not be the only cause of the symptoms above. Dogs and cats can also react to allergies triggered by food, cleaning products, and their environment — which means that you might have to do some trial and error to figure out how to best support your pit bull while the allergen is identified.

We’ve summarized the types of allergies and the strategies you can try to deal with them below:

Food allergies

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Soy

Diagnosing food allergies

Diagnosing food allergies in your pet can look different depending on their specific needs. For instance—your vet may choose to run bloodwork to try to spot antigens that can indicate the presence of an allergy, or they may recommend that you try an elimination diet at home to see if you notice any difference. Intradermal allergy tests may also be recommended, depending on what the suspected allergens might be.

Treatment options

There are many different ways to treat canine allergies. The most common include removing the allergen if possible (which usually happens if it’s something related to the dog’s diet or environment) and steroids. Your vet might also recommend specialty supplements to help your dog have a better overall experience.

Environmental and seasonal allergies

  • Pollen
  • Perfume
  • Grass
  • Cleaning products
  • Latex or rubber
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Certain fabrics or textiles

Diagnosing environmental allergies

Environmental allergies can be more difficult to diagnose than allergies with a food-based cause. Your vet often has one of two options: Skin or blood tests. Depending on your pet’s temperament, symptoms, and experience, they will determine which option is most suitable.

Treatment options for environmental allergies

If you and your vet are confident that you know the cause of your dog’s environmental allergies, you can try removing the possible trigger and assessing your dog’s symptoms. Depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms, your vet might also prescribe ongoing treatments (such as routine oral antihistamine medication) or steroid treatments, depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms.

Contact allergies

  • Grasses
  • Ground covers
  • Pyrethrins (such as in flea sprays or collar-like products)
  • Fragrances
  • Fabrics

Diagnosing contact allergies

Contact allergies can show up differently than food allergies, resulting in itching, topical rashes, and visible red irritation. Your dog might also experience hives or painful bumps if left untreated or, when in contact with the allergen.

Treatment options for contact allergies

Much like the other types of dog allergies, your vet may choose to treat with medications (such as antihistamines) and topical lotions or drops. Antibiotics are only used in case of infection, which can happen if your dog is allowed to itch and bite at the skin.

Skin allergies and conditions in pit bulls

Contact allergens are very different from chronic or acute skin conditions. Knowing both symptoms can help you give your vet a more accurate (and effective) report. We’ve summarized what you need to know about allergies, skin problems, and skin irritation below:

Symptoms of skin allergies

Canine skin allergies can appear much like you’d expect to see in humans. Many dogs can present with symptoms like:

  • Dullness in skin tone
  • Rough, reddened, or raw patches
  • Itchy skin (indicated by chewing, licking, or biting)
  • Balding patches
  • Fur abnormalities
  • Discoloration
  • General irritation

These symptoms may be more visible if you have a dog with short fur. This means that pet owners will have to conduct intentional checks across different dog breeds, especially those with longer hair. These checks should be happening before common symptoms appear. Catching your dog’s skin infections and symptoms early can help you address possible causes.

Diet can be a pretty significant main reason for skin allergies, so you might consider asking your vet about changing the type of food you’re using or bolstering with less inflammatory dietary options — such as sweet potatoes or food that has natural antioxidant and quercetin support infused in the mix.

Common skin conditions

Many common skin conditions can be triggered by environmental allergens, new food, or your pup’s extra-vigilant immune system. We’ve listed a few of the most common below:

Atopic dermatitis

While flea allergy dermatitis is the leading cause of allergies in dogs, atopic dermatitis comes in at a close second. This disorder is among common health concerns for multiple breeds and happens when there’s genetic possibility for a dog to develop pruritic inflammatory skin disease . While it is genetically driven, flea and mosquito bites can make it worse — as can the presence of environmental factors.

If your dog has this, consider seeking treatment from your vet. You should also swap products you currently have in the home for those with limited and skin-sensitive ingredients, as this can help reduce the severity of your pup’s symptoms.

Flea allergy dermatitis

This condition is an autoimmune disorder caused by immune system hyperactivity that happens when a flea bites your dog. As your dog’s system goes on the attack, their skin can bear the brunt of that — often showing up as fur loss, inflammation, pain, and fur loss.

Medicated shampoos can be helpful — but we don’t recommend using a DIY recipe. If you don’t have access to prescription washes or hypoallergenic skin-soothing wipes, you might consider an over-the-counter option with skin-friendly pramoxine. Be sure to rinse your dog thoroughly to prevent allergic reactions or skin irritation.

Bacterial and fungal infections (general)

Sometimes, your pup might experience health issues. Skin sensitivity and skin issues can be caused by unnamed bacterial or fungal infections, which your pet can treat with medication.

Diagnosing skin allergies

Skin allergies are commonly diagnosed with blood work or topical skin tests, confirming vet hypotheses about possible triggers for your pet.

Treatment for skin allergies

There are many possible vet-approved treatments for dog skin allergies. Some of the most common can include:

  • Hypoallergenic dog food or a balanced diet plan
  • Cleaning or skin-soothing formulations with natural ingredients (or limited ingredients)
  • Supplements, such as capsules for omega fatty acids
  • Anti-inflammatory meal plans

Cortisone products, antihistamine products, and newer systemic injections or oral medications to calm the allergic reaction at the cellular level within the body are becoming available and more affordable daily as well.

Dr. Bruce Armstrong

Pit bull allergy prevention tips 

Try to prevent health problems by avoiding the allergen. And, keep in mind that treatment depends on what’s causing your dog’s allergy.

Check indoor and outdoor spaces. If your pit bull is experiencing a skin allergy, examine your outdoor and indoor environments for potential causes. Make sure your cleaning products are dog-safe, and use a wet towel or rag to wipe your pit bull down twice a day.

Inspect them for any ticks, mosquito bites, or fleas. If you find any ticks, remove them immediately. If you find fleas, try a natural flea treatment and/or consult with your vet for prescriptions to fix the infestation. Always keep your pit bull updated on their flea and tick medications.

Monitor their time in the sun. Since pit bulls have such short hair, they can get sunburned faster than other breeds. Burns will irritate their skin and can make skin allergies worse.

Use moisturizer. If your pit bull has dry skin, use a natural moisturizer. Also, if your dog is prone to allergies, antifungal shampoos can also help decrease additional yeast in their skin that could over-reproduce and cause a problem. Our vet’s favorite is Dechra MiconaHex + Triz Shampoo for dogs.

Maintain proper nutrition. Maintaining a well-rounded diet is one of the most helpful steps for many owners when it comes to managing pit bull allergies. Keeping your pet’s diet free from fillers, colors, inflammatory foods (like eggs) and preservatives can help them experience a big reduction in symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

What is the most common food allergy in pit bulls?

Every pit bull and breed is unique. However, many believe that beef is a top food allergy as it is one of the most inflammatory protein sources found in most dog foods.

What are the top three food allergies in dogs?

VCA Hospitals has conducted a statistical analysis showing that dairy, beef, and chicken are three of the most serious and prevalent food allergies for dogs.

What dog food is best for itchy skin?

Hypoallergenic dog foods can be especially helpful if your furry friend has itchy skin. However, we always recommend talking to your vet before making drastic diet changes.

What diet changes help itchy dogs?

Your dog could be itching for several reasons, which is why it’s important to consult with your vet before treatment. However, many pet parents find that their dogs might stop itching with a boost of Omega-3s — found naturally in salmon and cod liver oil.

Do eggs help dog itchy skin?

No. While many believe eggs can help, they are an extremely common allergen that could worsen your pet’s allergies.