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Pit-Bulls with Skin Allergies

Pit-Bulls with Skin Allergies


The pit-bull, or more formally known as the American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier, are a breed known for their muscle mass and strength. They’re thought to be the breed with the greatest amount of muscles per pound of body-weight.1 Pit-bulls are dogs with big personalities, that are smart, adventurous, and brave. Their strength has traditionally caused them to be bred for hunting, herding livestock, and unfortunately for blood sports.1,2Pit-bulls are highly trainable, stubborn, and fearless, which is why they were historically selected for fighting.1 Nowadays, a well bred pit-bull is a fun-loving social family dog, that is loyal, up for any challenge, and comes with a side of adventure!1,2

Type of Coat

Pit-bulls have a short, flat, and stiff coat with minimal grooming needs, coming in a wide variety of colors.1,2  Despite being tough dogs, their short coats offer them little protection and are not the most weather-proof.1 Pit-bulls do not do well in cold wintery conditions, and should be protected with a nice winter coat or fashionable sweater. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re wearing a coat, your pit-bull should be too!

Susceptibility to Skin Allergies

Generally a healthy breed, however, their short coat can allow easy exposure to allergens, pests, and other irritants that can lead to skin allergies, dry skin, and other skin disorders.2,3 Additionally, their short hair can leave them more susceptible to sunburns than other breeds.3 Seasonal and environmental changes can leave your pit-bull feeling itchy, and lead to excessive licking and hair loss.3,4 However, skin and contact allergies might also develop on your pit-bull due to exposure to irritants such as shampoos and detergents, pests, or a backyard plant. Minimize your pit-bulls exposure to substances that induce irritated and cracked skin, rashes, skin bumps, or bald spots.3,4

Allergy Locations

Bald spots, alongside excessive licking, are usually visual indicators of a skin allergy on your pit-bull.3 Pit-bulls, as a breed, are highly susceptible to seasonal allergies which cause them to scratch themselves all-over, sometimes causing more than just hair loss, untreated allergies can lead to sores and skin infections.3,5 Due to their sensitivity toward contact allergens, often their irritation occurs at the site of exposure, so skin allergies can occur all over your pit-bull, including on their face, or as a rash on their belly. Additionally, compared to other breeds, pit-bulls tend to experience stronger reactions to allergens.6 

Causes of Skin Allergies 

Environmental, seasonal, and contact allergens are the most common culprits of skin allergies in pit-bulls.4 However, as a breed, they are more genetically prone to skin problems and allergies. With their shorter coat they are more exposed than other breeds to irritants.4 Seasonal allergens, such as pollen, can be a major cause of skin allergies for pit bulls. Additionally, their sensitive skin can have allergic reactions to chemicals (i.e. pesticides and household cleaners), shampoos and detergents, and plants.4,6 Further, allergies to foods and medications can manifest as skin problems.4,5

Treatment Options

If the source of your pit-bull’s irritation is obvious then minimize their exposure to it! Furthermore, due to the breed’s increased sensitivity it’s best to use hypo-allergenic shampoos and lotions in general.6 Keep your pit-bull up to date of their flea and tick medications, and be further mindful of how much sunlight your pit-bull is getting. Their short hair allows them to burn more easily than other breeds, and this can further irritate skin allergies, so it is recommended to apply veterinary sunscreen to your pit-bull.3,6

The correct treatment option comes down to finding the source of your pit-bull’s allergic reaction. Some skin allergies can treated with hyposensitization therapy, where shots containing the allergen are given.7 Other times medicines can be given including antihistamines, corticosteroids, and cyclosporine may prove helpful.7 Hydrocortisone spray often works great for some quick itch relief.4 Sometimes moisturizers can also provide your pit-bull with relief, the tricky part is convincing them not to lick it off.4 Coconut oil is gaining traction as a beneficial moisturizer for irritated skin, and it’s not dangerous if they end up licking it off too.4,5

However, dietary modifications may also be the right remedy for your pit-bull’s skin allergies. If your pit-bull is suffering from dry and itchy skin, they may have and imbalance of fatty acids, and supplementing them with fish oil and omega-3’s, may help restore their skin condition and reduce inflammation.4 Helping your dog to stop scratching further lessens their chance of infection and possibly even hematoma.5 Food allergies and sensitivities or poor diet may be behind your pit-bull’s skin allergies too. For one, it is imperative that they follow a well balanced diet, to guarantee malnutrition is not the source of their discomfort.5 Additionally, if food is the suspected source of your pit bull’s skin irritation then, an elimination diet of at least 8 weeks, may be necessary to identify the allergen.4 If a food allergy is discovered, the best thing to do to help alleviate symptoms is avoid that food! However, true food allergies in dogs are rare, and more often they suffer from intolerances, and changing up your pit-bull’s diet, offering them variety in their protein source and fat content, may help clear up symptoms.5

Key Ingredients to Fight Allergies

For one, ensuring that your pit-bull’s diet is complete, is one of the first things you can do to make sure they are not suffering from any deficiencies. Key nutrients imperative for skin health are copper, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, B3, and B5.Additionally, try offering them a variety of foods to help combat possible food sensitivities. Furthermore, as stated, omega 3’s and other fatty acids such as linoleic acid, may be helpful in restoring and maintaining skin and coat quality.5 Protein is often the source of food allergies and intolerances, yet it is imperative for proper skin and hair growth. Certain amino acids are highlighted as particularly important, including phenylalanine, tyrosine, methionine, cysteine, and proline.5 Finally, newer research is suggesting probiotic supplementation as a viable method of relieving allergies in dogs!

Consider these dietary adjustments for you pit-bull with the following conditions:


Coat Color Changes

Dietary Needs and Adjustments

Increase amino acids which can be found in  protein (>75 grams per 1000 calories); use our calculator to convert a label percentage to the caloric basis (grams per 1000 calories)

Concurrent GI Signs

Avoid foods with tryptamine and histamine such as dairy or fermented vegetables and meats (yes, this includes bacon); try a simple ingredient food trial

Chronic Itching and Dermatitis

Fortify the diet with Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Zinc, and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil; add a probiotic; try a simple ingredient food trial

Dull Coat and Scaling

Adjust EPA and DHA levels in the diet (added fish oil being the most common way); try a food that has added zinc

Dandruff and Crustiness

Add Zinc and Vitamin A levels

How Fresh Food Can Help

Providing your pit-bull with fresh food can help them eat a balanced diet that includes essential vitamins, nutrients, and fatty acids. Further, fresh food can be easier to digest, so the nutrient content is more effectively utilized. This can help your pit-bull combat skin allergies by resolving any nutrient imbalances that damage the skin and coat. Additionally, fresh food produced under clean conditions is less contaminated than commercial products, and does not contain hidden ingredients. Further, fresh food ingredients are simple and easy to understand, they’re things we would eat ourselves. This makes it easier to monitor what your pit-bull is consuming, and avoid foods containing known irritants to them.  Making a nutritionally balanced fresh food diet a safer option for a pit-bull with skin allergies caused by food sensitivities.

Some pet owners like the idea of providing their dog with a fresh food diet, but do not have the time and energy to make it themselves. Ensuring the diet is nutritionally adequate for your dog’s needs is another challenge for pet owners. 

About NomNomNow

Luckily, companies like NomNomNow are here to help bridge the gap, providing carefully balanced fresh food fit for the needs of your pit-bull, right to your door. Each recipe includes the NomNomNutrient mix guaranteeing a nutritionally balanced diet, regardless of the recipe. Further the recipes are designed to meet your dog’s life stage, and are portioned to your dog’s size and weight goals. Dog owners can get the benefits of cooking their pit-bull a homemade diet, while having someone else do all the heavy lifting for them. Commercial food labels don’t always tell the whole picture, with many of them containing unlabeled ingredients. Further, pet food isn’t regulated closely, so big companies often have issues with contamination. NomNomNow guarantees quality human-grade ingredients, that are prepared under high safety regulations, so every meal is wholesome and safe for your pit-bull!

  1. Latimer, M. American Staffordshire Terrier. American Kennel Club (2017). Available at: (Accessed: 27th November 2019)
  2. Pitbull Allergies | Pet Dermatology of Vancouver and Richmond. Available at: (Accessed: 27th November 2019)
  3. Atopic Dermatitis Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments | petMD. Available at: (Accessed: 4th September 2019)
  4. Olivry, T., Mueller, R. S. & Prélaud, P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (1): duration of elimination diets. BMC Vet. Res. 11, 225 (2015).
  5. Diets and the Dermis: Nutritional Considerations in Dermatology | Today’s Veterinary Practice. Today’s Veterinary Practice (2017). Available at: (Accessed: 4th September 2019)

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