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Learn : Dog Allergies

Boston Terriers with Skin Allergies

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Small, sturdy, and muscular, the Boston Terrier is a lively, affectionate, and highly intelligent breed whose stubbornness and high energy levels can quickly be forgiven with one look into his large, soulful eyes. Known as the “American Gentleman,” the Boston Terrier is an ideal family pet who gets along well with children and adults equally and easily adapts to his living circumstances be it an apartment or rural farm. This even-tempered and sweet breed can be a delight to his pet parents, but he is also a dog with a high chance of developing food and skin allergies that can manifest in a variety of ways.

Type of Coat

The Boston Terrier has a fine, sleek coat and can be either brindle, black, or seal colored with a white “tuxedo,” including a white muzzle, blaze, and chest. The breed is hypoallergenic and sheds minimally. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt and an occasional bath will keep your Boston Terrier’s coat shiny and bright. Proper care encourages the spread of skin oils throughout the coat and promotes new hair growth. 

Likelihood of Skin Allergies

Contact, environmental, and food allergies are a common occurrence in the Boston Terrier, a breed more susceptible to allergens than other types of dogs. Allergic reactions may happen when your dog is exposed to environmental (contact and inhalant), food, or medication allergens. Genetics is partially responsible for this hypersensitivity, and a Boston Terrier can experience multiple allergic reactions simultaneously. Without appropriate treatment, your dog can suffer chronic itchiness, discomfort, infections, and skin damage. 

Common Allergy Locations on the Boston Terrier

A primary location for allergic reactions is the skin itself which, when inflamed from exposure to an allergen, can become red, flaky, and itchy (atopic dermatitis, also known as environmental allergy). This first wave of inflammation then spreads, manifesting itself in areas around the belly, ears, and legs. To find relief from the itching, your Boston Terrier may lick or chew constantly at hot spots or areas of frequent irritation. When left untreated, atopic dermatitis may lead to the thickening of the skin, hair loss, and secondary skin infections. Other common allergy sites on the Boston Terrier include the ears, leading to chronic ear infections, eyes, and nasal areas. 

Skin Allergy Causes

Due to its hypersensitive immune system, the Boston Terrier can develop allergies from a wide range of sources. Any of the following sources may prompt an allergic reaction in this breed:

Of particular sensitivity are food allergies which often cause pruritus (itching) that may be accompanied by flatulence. Corn and soy are the primary culprits of food allergies in the Boston Terrier, and these ingredients are frequently found in commercial dry dog foods. 

Treatment Options

Treatment options for immediate relief are available both over-the-counter and from your veterinarian. Bathe your Boston Terrier with a hypoallergenic shampoo to calm the skin’s surface and provide some respite from itchy skin and hot spots. Look for ingredients in shampoos that help reduce skin inflammation, such as tea tree oil, hydrocortisone, and aloe vera. Medical options include over-the-counter antihistamines, prescribed corticosteroids, and topical antibiotic sprays and ointments.

If you suspect that your Boston Terrier has a food allergy, then follow the steps below to conduct a food trial or elimination diet: 

  1. Feed him entirely new and generally pure food for a minimum of eight weeks. Feeding your dog a non-contaminated, simple ingredient diet for the entire trial period will provide the most accurate results. 
  2. The diet can be cooked or commercially produced. Dog food that has single sources of animal protein, vegetable protein, and carbohydrate calories is an ideal choice for Boston Terriers with allergies; the animal protein is the most important and be sure it’s not something to which your Boston has been exposed. Avoid foods that include other natural flavors as those can consist of unidentified proteins.
  3. During the food trial, do not feed your Boston Terrier any treats, table food, supplements, or flavored medications (if possible). 

After eight weeks, slowly reintroduce specific ingredients.

Since food allergies and intolerances can be challenging to diagnose, your next step would be to partner with your veterinarian, an allergist, or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to develop a fresh food diet that can make life better for your Boston Terrier. Diets that rely on natural foods, especially ones that incorporate a protein source, varied ingredients, and appropriate fat levels may be just what your dog needs to beat the allergy. Additionally, including a dog probiotic supplement in a fresh food diet can have a significant impact on managing or reducing the severity of a dog’s allergic reactions. Studies have shown that probiotics successfully decrease the level of inflammation by bolstering the dog’s immune system.

Ingredients to Combat Skin Allergy Reactions

An excellent solution to combat a Boston Terrier’s skin allergies is diet that’s rich in healthy fats, certain omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid, gamma linolenic acid) and Omega-3 essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA can often alleviate a dog’s dry, flaky skin and in some cases resolve itching and discomfort. Sources of these oils could include sunflower oil, blackcurrant seed oil, and fish oil, respectively.  Other critical ingredients to look for in your Boston Terrier’s diet includes essential amino acids, B-vitamin complexes, and zinc.

Consider the following suggestions for addressing the variety of allergic reactions that Boston Terriers may develop:


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, omega-6, and the 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

Fresh food diets that are nutritious and that include higher amounts of antioxidants and well-preserved fats can reduce your dog’s allergies, and in some cases, eliminate them. Although commercial dry dog foods are relatively inexpensive, they are cooked using completely different techniques than fresh foods that may change nutrient levels, alter absorption of the food, or introduce contaminants of other possible allergens; And a fresh diet contains ingredients you can see, knowing that what you’ve purchased is what’s in the food. 

Any fresh dog food should include a source of essential fatty acids, such as fish oil, which will keep your Boston Terrier’s coat and skin healthy. The minerals and fatty acids found in a fresh food diet fight inflammation in the body and strengthen the immune system to fight off allergic reactions. For dogs with severe food allergies, custom elimination diets with limited ingredients can be the answer to all their allergy woes.

About Nom Nom

For Boston Terriers with food allergies, Nom Nom’s appropriately portioned, cooked, and inspected fresh dog food diets are a simple solution to a complicated problem. Our fresh food arrives at your door in small batches that are created using human-grade ingredients and with your dog’s wellbeing and happiness in mind.

The Nutrient Mix is included in every serving of our fresh foods. Full of vital minerals and vitamins, our Nutrient Mix may help you manage your Boxer’s allergies. Vitamins A and E give your dog that extra boost of health needed for his skin and coat. Minerals like magnesium, selenium, and zinc also work to build a better immune system for dogs. With the added protection of our Nutrient Mix, your dog will be on his way to winning the fight against food allergies.

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