10 Health Problems Common in Pit Bulls

Staffordshire Terrier needs wheelchair

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, they can become great family dogs that safely play and interact with different breedswith proper training and socialization.

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 ten common health issues 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 Pitbull regularly and clean their ears to prevent skin allergies. Due to their short hair, they are prone to sunburns, so 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 Pitbull may scratch themselves until cuts develop, causing the problem to worsen.

Skin cancer is the worst disease that your Pitbull can face, so 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 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 playful nature of the pit bull breed.

Knee Problems in Staffordshire Terriers

Dog wheelchair for pit bull with torn acl

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 as your Pitbull ages.

More than 60 percent of dogs with torn CCL are likely to impair the other knee. Since 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. The hip is improperly formed in this condition, leading to arthritis and constant pain.

Pit Bull Hip Dysplasia Symptoms & Treatment

dog hip dysplasia brace

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, and hydrotherapy can help a pit bull dealing with arthritis and hip dysplasia. You can support your dog’s 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.

By using supplements to support the aching joints and all-natural muscle supplements, such as fortetropin can help optimize muscle mass and health, which in turn can help support better mobility for our arthritic patients.”
Dr. Albert Ahn, Veterinary Advisor MYOS Pet

4. Allergies

Compared to other dog breeds, Pit bulls are more prone to allergies. Pitbull 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. It would help if you treated 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 pitbull 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. After eating food, pitbulls with this condition will have excess gas in their tummies. 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.

7. Ichthyosis

Large disabled pit bull wheelchair

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 your Pitbull’s skin and the footpads’ outer layer. This may indicate that your dog has ichthyosis. Your pit bull can inherit this problem from its parents, which is 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.

8. Cataracts

It would help if you always had 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, leaving 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 dogs age and is a genetic condition that impacts 1 in 400 pit bulls. Pit bulls with this condition will exhibit tremors, uncoordinated movements, wobbly gait, and an inability to move in severe cases. Dogs with this condition may require the additional support of a wheelchair to maintain balance and help improve mobility.

The Full Support Walkin’ Wheels can help with balance, coordination and provide the support dog’s need to move.

10. Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is a common inherited condition affecting the pit bull breed. The most common heart disease affecting the breed is aortic stenosis. This disease rarely shows any symptoms, so you should have your dog checked regularly so that the condition can be spotted earlier.

How long do pit bulls live?

The average Pitbull lifespan is between 8 and 16 years. The variety of Pit Bull you have as well as their overall health will play a part in your dog’s life expectancy. Staffordshire Bull Terriers on average live 12 to 14 years. American Staffordshire Terriers can live to age 16.

With attention to your Pitbull’s overall health, diet, and plenty of exercise a Pitbull can live a long and healthy life.

Pit Bull Overcomes Mobility Loss

Callie, a Pit Bull mix, lost all mobility in her rear legs one night due to a herniated disk. After the first couple of months of trying pain and anti-inflammatory medications, her veterinarian recommended trying acupuncture.

Weekly acupuncture treatments, coupled with daily use of the Walkin’ Wheels, were the keys to her recovery. Callie began to respond, and within a few months she regained her mobility and no longer needs her wheels. That’s what we call success! But the other indispensable key to Callie’s recovery was the love and devotion of her family!

I am a believer that many dogs with some of the same issues as Callie can in fact be treated successfully with medication, therapy, and acupuncture. She is living proof that these treatments worked. I want others to know not to assume the worst. I would never have thought Callie would walk again until we started to see her in the cart! She actually began to move her back legs. For months they had zero feeling, and a pinch was not even noticed. Once she exercised daily in her wheelchair, her legs moved more and more. Then … she just stood up! I must have cried for two hours waiting for my husband to come home and see her walking.”

DiAnne Craig

See All Walkin' Pets Products Noodster Wheelchair Buynow

11 Comments

  1. Thank you, I have a blue nose pit and I had no idea of these common health problems. Now I know I need to keep a eye on his health better and I have a better idea on what to watch for.

    Sincerely
    Jamie Mele

  2. […] are certain health issues that are particularly related to Blue Fawn Pit […]

  3. I have a 2 1/2 yr old male pit. Nearly every week he will have one or two days of “smelly, mucus like diarrhea”. I havent changed his food and he doesnt get treats or people food. What could it be and what can I do to help him?
    Thank you
    Elliott’s Mom

    • Hi Angela – it’s possible your pit bull needs his anal glands expressed. Most dogs can express their glands naturally by scooting across the carpet, but others need their glands expressed regularly to avoid infection. I would recommend checking with your Vet.

    • I have a pittie too. When I first got him he had terrible diarrhea it.He has a very sensitive tummy. Try out different foods. He was on kibble but now he’s on cooked ground chicken, mixed with freeze dry raw (Stella and chewy). When he has a upset stomach give him pumpkin or apple sauce till his stomach recovers.

      When giving him new food do it in small batches till he is accustom to his meal. I know what your going through! It’s hard but you just need to figure out his diet.

  4. My 3 yr old little gets too exhausted after 5 mins play
    Just lays on ground panting crazy
    Otherwise in great health

    • Hi Deborah, it sounds like you may want to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian and make sure there isn’t an underlying health concern that needs to be addressed

  5. I had a pit bull Zander I took him to the vet because he had bloody diarrhea..the vet said he had a very bad bacteria infection and very dehydrated suggested euthanizing him now I regret it I should of not done that after reading these items he could of been cured..😪😪

    • You should always get a second opinion. I don’t know who this vet was but I thought of at least he would of tried other options before suggesting that😪

  6. My son’s pit has been to the vet several times he just gets worse . He started with sneezing lots of thick snot has now started bleeding badly. Any ideas? Thank you

  7. We found a Rednose pup about 6 months old. 11 years we still have her. She has been a great pet and companion. I socialized her with other dogs and humans. She did great until about 6 years old. She started showings of not getting along with other dogs. So I stopped socializing with other dogs.
    We had an issue where a lady wanted to meet her. When I took Molly to where she sat down, she corralled Mollies head and held it close to her own. When she released her. Molly did a quick grab at her, I believe it to be a warning, Molly bit the lady in the lip. She left a tooth mark in her lip costing my insurance 37,000 dollars in a law suit. The police officer that came out agreed with me that she crossed boundaries. That is something we constantly do is boundary issues. She just adores children. Especially newborns.

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