Maybe it's something she ate, or maybe it's something in the air, but your Bullmastiff seems uncomfortable in her own skin. Itching, scratching and chewing her skin could be a sign of allergies. Offer relief with a change of diet or environment and you will have a happy pup.
A Different Diet
It may take some detective work, Sherlock, but if you eliminate the right foods from your pup's diet, you might solve the mystery of her allergy problem. Some Bullmastiffs start to itch after snacking on anything that contains corn, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, beef or chicken. Ingredients that cause itchy skin also can cause hot spots, ear infections, diarrhea, vomiting and breathing problems. Change the menu and try specialty pet foods with limited ingredients geared toward dogs who show a sensitivity to certain meats, dairy or grain products. Whip up homemade meals for your Bullmastiff so you know exactly what she is eating. Add fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil or flax seed oil to her diet to relieve itchy, dry skin. And always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
In the Air
Achooo! If your pooch has a runny nose and watering eyes, she might be reacting to pollen, dust, mold, cigarette smoke and other airborne allergens. Allergies to dust and flea saliva can make her an itchy, sneezy mess. Removing your pup from the offending inhalants is the first step toward relief. Use a flea control product on your pooch and put your vacuum to work to reduce dust. Clean your dog's bed, rugs and other dust catchers weekly. Try regular soothing baths with an anti-itch shampoo or oatmeal to rinse the allergen out of her fur. Gently clean and dry those wrinkles around your Bullmastiff's nose where allergens and moisture can get trapped. When home remedies don't help, your vet may prescribe an antihistamine or even cortisone to relieve chronic symptoms. An antibiotic might be prescribed to treat a secondary infection caused by excessive licking and chewing.
Pinning down an allergy can be tough, even for your regular vet. You don't necessarily need a referral to visit a specialist such as a veterinary dermatologist. As expert in animal skin diseases, he can run a blood test or skin prick test that will reveal the cause of your dog's sensitivity. He also can scrape your dog's ears for mites, a nasty parasite that can burrow in a Bullmastiff's floppy ears and make her miserable. A dermatologist can recommend changes to your pup's routine and diet so she can live itch-free.
Be aware that not all skin bumps and irregularities are caused by allergic reactions. Warts and skin cancers are sometimes mistaken for allergic reactions but require very different treatment. Bullmastiffs are prone to a variety of cancers and commonly diagnosed with hair follicle tumors called trichoepitheliomas. These tumors, which commonly occur in middle-age and older dogs, can be benign or malignant. Tumors are most often found on the dog's trunk or face and need to be surgically removed. Consult with your veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and treatment of all skin ailments.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.