Pit bulls are loved and cherished by many people in the US despite the controversy associated with the breed.
While they can become aggressive with other dogs or humans, with proper training and socialization, they can become great family dogs that play and interact with other breeds safely.
Due to their looks and the stories of their aggressiveness, Pit bulls are the most misunderstood dog breeds in the US. But they are also prone to many health conditions. You’ll, therefore, need to take proper care of these mid-sized dogs.
But taking care of them is very easy if you know the common diseases and symptoms to look out for. Below you’ll find 10 common health problems in Pit bulls.
1. Pit Bull Skin Problems
Unfortunately, Pit bulls are naturally prone to several skin disorders ranging from itchy allergies, tumors, and even skin cancer. You should groom your Pit bull regularly and clean their ears as a way of preventing skin allergies. Due to their short hair, they are prone to sunburns, which is why you must provide them with shade.
Additionally, if your yard is infested with mosquitoes and bugs, you’ll want to consider picking up a dog-safe bug repellent for your dog. If the itching persists, your Pit bull may scratch themselves until cuts develop, causing the problem to worsen.
Skin cancer is the worst disease that your Pit bull can face, so be sure to consult a veterinarian immediately if you notice any skin abnormalities.
2. Knee Complications
Pit bulls are prone to knee problems. Pit bulls are active dogs and they like playing with toys and just have a good time just running around. The high activity level combined with the pit bull’s powerful build makes them prone to hind leg injuries, ligament tears, and knee problems. Due to these movements, the cranial cruciate ligament of your dog, the same as ACL in humans, can get affected. The cranial cruciate ligament is a thin tissue on a Pit bull’s knee that connects the thigh bone to the tibia. Since Pit bulls are always in movement, the CCL bears a heavy load. Most partial tears are at a high risk of becoming complete tears to the active nature of the pit bull breed.
Knee Problems in Staffordshire Terriers
The CCL problems usually begin as a partial tear with signs such as pain or mild limping. However, if your dog continues with physical activity, the condition can worsen.
Usually, surgery is done to fix the torn connective tissue. If not treated on time, it can lead to other health issues and mobility problems later on as your Pit bull ages.
More than 60 percent of dogs with torn CCL are likely to impair the other knee. Since the one knee is weak, the other leg is burdened. You can use leg support to mitigate the effect of imbalance.
3. Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common issue among pit bulls. Pit bulls are prone to hind leg problems and these back leg health conditions can slow pit bulls down and one common, inherited condition for Staffordshire Terriers is hip dysplasia. In this condition, the hip is improperly formed leading to arthritis and constant pain.
Pit bull Hip Dysplasia Symptoms & Treatment
Dogs with hip dysplasia will have difficulty climbing stairs, running, and face lameness in the hind legs. Hip surgery is not uncommon for hip dysplasia, but you can also manage the condition with a non-invasive approach. Canine rehab therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy as well as hydrotherapy can help a pit bull dealing with arthritis and hip dysplasia. You can support your dogs hips with a hip brace. Supporting the hip during exercise can relieve hip pain and promote activity and ease of movement during exercise.
Pit bulls are genetically predisposed to hip and hind leg problems. Early signs of hip pain in pit bulls include: a bunny hopping gait, hind leg lameness, and limping.
Compared to other dog breeds, Pit bulls are more prone to allergies. Pit bull allergy problems tend to be skin allergies that can cause dry and itchy patches of skin, hot spots, and hair loss. As a breed, pit bulls are more affected by pollen, grass, ticks or flies than other dogs. They are also affected by food allergies, particularly grain or wheat components.
A pit bull with allergies will scratch, lick, drool, and shed abnormally. The scratching can cause wounds and bleeding. You must treat your dog immediately to prevent skin infections.
5. Thyroid Disease
Thyroid disease is another common problem for Pit bulls, specifically, pit bulls are at high risk for hypothyroidism. Your pit bull will gain excessive weight and develop skin problems when thyroid glands aren’t producing adequate thyroid hormones.
In addition to the physical signs, thyroid disease can cause fearful aggression and other behavioral changes.
Your veterinarian will perform blood tests to diagnose thyroid disease. Your pit bull might require lifetime doses of thyroxine to counteract the disease.
6. Gastric Dilatation – Volvulus
While many pit bull owners dismiss this disease as mere bloating, it can be fatal within a few hours. Pitbulls with this condition will have excess gas in their tummies after eating food. Fermented food and “air eating’’ can worsen this condition.
If your dog exhibits signs like an enlarged tummy and anxiety, take him to the vet immediately. The doctor will find ways to decompress the air.
Pit bulls are prone to ichthyosis disorder. Ichthyosis is a condition that occurs at birth that can become painful if not treated. Sometimes you might notice the thickening of the outer layer of your Pit bulls skin and also the footpads. This may indicate that your dog has ichthyosis. Your pit bull can inherit this problem from its parents and it is something that’s more common in terrier breeds.
It is a strange skin problem that shows signs similar to fish scales or human dandruff. If left untreated, the scales will worsen as the dog ages.
You should always have the eyes of your pit bull checked. The Staffordshire Terrier is more prone to developing cataracts than other breeds. This condition can either be inherited or developed. Other health conditions such as hypocalcemia, diabetes, and uveitis can lead to the development of cataracts. If discovered earlier, pharmaceutical medications can help soothe cataracts; otherwise, surgery will be needed to remove the excess protein buildup. Young pit bull puppies are prone to juvenile cataracts as well. Juvenile cataracts develop at a much younger age, usually before the age of 6.
Other eye problems that impact the pit bull breed include corneal ulcers which can leave the eye inflamed and infected.
9. Cerebellar Ataxia
Cerebellar Ataxia is an inherited condition characterized by poor muscle coordination and imbalance. With signs often showing as a dog ages. Cerebellar ataxia is a genetic condition that impacts 1 in 400 pit bulls. Pit bulls with this condition will exhibit signs such as tremors, uncoordinated movements, wobbly gait, and in severe cases, an inability to move. Dogs with this condition may require the additional support of a wheelchair in order to maintain balance and help improve mobility.
10. Heart Disease
Heart disease is a commonly inherited condition effecting the pit bull breed. The most common heart disease affecting the breed is aortic stenosis. This disease rarely shows any symptoms, and so you should have your dog checked regularly so that the condition can be spotted earlier.