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How to Treat Pit Bull Skin Problems: 8 Easy Ways

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog skin

American Pit Bulls and related breeds like Staffordshire Terriers can suffer from a host of skin problems. These can be caused by sunburns, food and environmental allergies, and deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. Some illnesses may also cause Pit Bull skin problems.

The ideal treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Finding a suitable and effective treatment starts by determining the root cause of the problem. Let’s take a deeper look.

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Identify the Cause of Skin Problems

Although Pit Bulls are especially susceptible to skin problems, any breed can suffer. Pit Bull-type breeds are genetically predisposed to certain conditions that can encourage dermatitis, flaking, and itchy skin, but it also comes down to their coat colors. The blue-gray coat color is caused by a recessive gene, and this gene also means that your Pit Bull is prone to skin disorders. White-coated dogs are far more likely to get sunburns, for instance.

Pitbull Checked By Vet
Image Credit: Andy Gin, Shutterstock

Other possible causes of skin problems in your Pit Bull include:

  • Pit Bull Sunburn – Dogs can suffer from sunburns just the same as people can. Although white pitties suffer more, any color can burn in the sun. Apply sunscreen if your dog will be out in sunny conditions for long periods. Aloe vera and witch hazel can be applied topically and externally to your dog and can alleviate the problem.
  • Zinc Deficiency in Pit Bulls – Zinc is used to form enzymes, proteins, and hormones, and the production of all of these is hampered if your dog suffers from zinc deficiency. It is also used in immune system function and for the healthy operation of the thyroid. Skin conditions are the visible face of zinc deficiency, but it could also be causing a host of other physiological problems that need addressing.
  • Pit Bull Skin Allergies – Your dog might be suffering from an allergic reaction to their food. Ingredients like beef, dairy, chicken, eggs, or even yeast, which are just some of the allergens commonly found in commercial dog foods, could be the cause. Identifying and removing allergens from your dog’s diet could be enough to prevent allergic skin reactions.
  • Pit Bull Irritants – Environmental irritants are all around us. Your dog could be allergic to the dust in your home, the grass in your garden, or the plants on their daily walking route. They also suffer sensitives that are similar to our own, so they could be experiencing a negative reaction to washing powder or shampoo.
  • Pit Bull Parasites – Fleas are the most common form of dog parasites, and one of the major causes of skin problems in any breed. They may be more common during warm months but can invade at any time. Other parasites include mange and mites, fungal and yeast infections, and any of these infestations include skin complaints as a side effect.

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The Top 8 Dog Skin Irritation Treatments

If your dog is suffering from skin issues, you can try the following techniques to alleviate the complaint and prevent it from reoccurring in the future.

1. Check Their Diet

Change your dog’s diet. It could be an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in their food. If you always feed beef food, change to chicken. If the food you feed is grain-inclusive, try a grain-free alternative.

An elimination diet means starting out with a very basic food that does not include any known allergens. If your dog’s skin problems and other symptoms clear up, you can start to gradually reintroduce ingredients until the problems start again and then you can identify the ingredients they’re allergic to. Keep in mind, however, that most allergic reactions come from the protein type, so start there!

Pit bull American Staffordshire Terrier with food bowl eating
Image credit: BoJack, Shutterstock

2. Bathe With Dog Shampoo

You shouldn’t use human shampoo on dogs, and you can get medicated and sensitive canine shampoo for use on dogs with allergies and skin complaints.

Change your dog’s shampoo and, after checking with your vet, consider monthly or even fortnightly bathing. A lot of owners are concerned about bathing too often because they have heard that it strips the natural oils from a dog’s skin. However, done properly and with the right shampoos, it can help prevent skin complaints. Of course, speak to your vet first about how often this should occur.

3. Wipe Their Feet

Many environmental irritants are picked up while out on walks because you cannot control what is in the grass or on the floor. Once your dog has these irritants on their paws, they will scratch and transfer them onto other areas of the skin.

Consider wiping their paws using a towel and then wash the towel immediately afterward. If this is the root cause, change your exercise area.

Washing Pitbull
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

4. Check for Fleas

Fleas are a major irritant and even if the fleas themselves do not cause skin complaints, your dog’s itching and biting to eradicate the fleas can be a major source of problems.

Look for signs of fleas and apply flea treatment according to the instructions on the treatment package or given by your veterinarian.

5. Introduce Fish Oil

Fish oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These play a key role in good health, immune system health, and they also encourage healthy eyes, skin, and coat. If your dog is not getting enough omega oils, they will start to suffer from flaky and itchy skin.

Ensure that the food you offer includes a reasonable amount, and add omega fish oils to their diet using supplements or by adding fish oil directly to their food.

Omega 3 Fish oil Capsules
Image Credit: Myléne, Pixabay

6. Consider Medication

Always consult with your vet before administering any over-the-counter medication to your dog, but Benadryl has proven an effective antihistamine, so it could help combat skin complaints that are caused by allergies and allergic reactions. Benadryl can cause tiredness and drowsiness, but it could be an effective treatment.

7. Clean Up

If anybody has picked up any allergens while out of the house, they will have settled on the floor. Alternatively, your dog could be allergic or sensitive to dust or even to the carpet or rug itself.

Make sure you dust and vacuum regularly. Use an air filter to remove pollen and other potentially sensitive ingredients.

a woman vacuuming furniture in a house with a hand-held portable vacuum cleaner
Image Credit: Den Rozhnovsky, Shutterstock

8. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is something of a cure-all and a holistic solution to a wide range of problems. Not only is it effective for humans, but it can also be used as an effective treatment for dogs.

Make up a spray consisting of diluted cider vinegar and mist your dog daily to help prevent itching and scratching. It won’t work with all dogs and some may dislike the misting itself, but it could potentially provide relief for your canine friend.

9. Visit the Vet

If all else fails, or if your dog is suffering serious skin problems, consult a vet. They will be able to help identify the most likely cause. They can provide a prescription for steroid creams when required, and they can even prescribe grain-free foods and other foods that are suitable for dogs with sensitive skin.

Above all, though, a vet can identify whether a skin complaint is a surface symptom of a much deeper and potentially more serious underlying problem.

Vet Checking Pitbull
Image Credit: Andy Gin, Shutterstock

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Conclusion: Pit Bull Skin Problems

Pit Bull breeds are more susceptible to skin problems and skin complaints, but any breed can suffer. Although the tips above are geared towards Pit Bull breeds, you can try them with any breed in the hope of alleviating itching, biting, and other skin complaints.

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