The pit bull breeds tend to be rather healthy, high energy dogs. That being said, the pittie breeds can sometimes have health issues. Here is some pit bull health information that you might find useful.
Possible Health Issues In Pit Bulls
I know that this is a long list, but it does not mean that your pit bull will have these problems. If you have any concerns that your pittie might be suffering from any of these issues, please consult your veterinarian right away.
- Hip Dysplasia – abnormal formation of the hip socket
- Thyroid Disease – their body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone
- Bladder Stones – caused by an inherited condition, Hyperuricosuria, which causes more uric acid to be in the urine
- Knee Problems – common because of the structure of their legs
- Skin Infections – skin redness, inflammation, bumps, or hives are usually related to an infection
- Eye Problems – double eyelashes, which causes the lashes to grow in towards the eye and rub against the eye ball. Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous, causes hazy vision due to failure in blood supply to the eyes. Cataracts, the lenses behind the pupil turn cloudy, eventually causing blindness.
- Heart Disease/Defects – irregular heart rhythm, valve malformation
- Allergies – Flea saliva causes an allergic reaction. Allergens inhaled from the air: molds, dust mites, grass, and pollen. Food allergies. All of these allergies can have the same symptoms: tail-chasing, scratching, biting belly, legs and paws, sneezing and coughing, eye and nose discharges.
- Ichthyosis – is a genetic skin disorder. skin is red and scaly. skin gets
itchy and sore and flakes off.
- Cerebellar Ataxia – genetic disorder that doesn’t usually show in pit bulls until the ages of 2-6 years old. It affects the dog’s ability to balance. It causes premature aging and death of cells in the part of the brain that controls coordination.
- Parvo – is a viral disease that is very contagious and can be fatal. It causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Signs of parvo are: diarrhea (can be bloody), vomiting, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite.
- Cleft Lip or Palate – Birth defects that occur during pregnancy. The
puppy’s mouth or lip does not develop properly.
- Babesia Infections – Babesia are transmitted mostly by ticks. Babesia are parasites that attack the red blood cells. Symptoms: lethargy, weakness, fever, red or orange urine, jaundice, pale gums and tongue, enlarged spleen, swollen lymph nodes.
- Deafness – Is usually associated with a white coat. The puppy’s hearing loss usually occurs by 3-4 weeks of age. Deafness can also be caused by infection, trauma, blockage, or poison.
There are ways to help prevent some of the above health issues. Schedule regular vet check ups. Feed your pit bull a proper diet and make sure he gets the right amount of exercise.
Hip Dysplasia – weight control, physical therapy and swimming to help build muscle, pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs, based on the age of the dog there are different surgical options.
- Thyroid Disease – Diet changes may be made. If thyroid levels are too low, then a hormone medication could be given. If thyroid levels are too high, then an anti-thyroid medication could be given as well as, radioactive iodine or chemotherapy.
- Bladder Stones – A low-purine diet can help prevent bladder stones. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the stones. Other times the vet can perform an urohyfropropulsion, where they place a urinary catheter and flush out the bladder with sterile saline.
- Knee Problems – Maintain your dog’s proper weight. Keep your pittie active but no strenuous activities. Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your dog’s diet could be beneficial, and what dog doesn’t like ‘people’ food? Try to prevent slipping on floors. A knee brace may help your pit bull or supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. But unfortunately sometimes pain medication and surgery are needed.
- Skin Infections – Keep the area of and around the infection clean. Twice a day it should be disinfected with a diluted povidone iodine solution. If the infection is bad, your dog may need antibiotics.
- Eye Problems – Sometimes eye drops applied several times a day is all that is needed. Other times eye surgery is needed.
- Heart Disease/Defects – Manage your pit bull’s weight with limited activity so there isn’t too much stress put on the heart. There are medications that can help the heart correct irregular heart beats. There is also a surgery to correct a valve or to put in a pacemaker.
- Allergies – Aloe vera can soothe the skin. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Apple cider vinegar, used as a rinse for paws, will help to remove pollen and other allergens from being outside. Coconut oil helps reduce allergic reactions to fleas. Start flea and tick control for all of your pets. A weekly bath can help rid your dog of allergens. Vacuum your home twice weekly and clean your pittie’s bedding once a week. Food changes may need to be made. And there are medications: allergy injections, benadryl cortisone.
- Ichthyosis – This disease is highly un-treatable. But there are things that could alleviate symptoms a bit: medicated shampoos, fatty acid supplements, propylene glycol sprays, topical phytosphingosine (has anti-inflammatory properties).
- Cerebellar Ataxia – There is no cure or treatment. Keep your pit bull as comfortable and as happy as you can for as long as you can.
- Parvo – Prevention is key. Make sure your pit bull is up to date on shots. There are no drugs that can kill the virus. Antibiotics, IV fluids, and medicine to stop the vomiting are all needed to boost your pit bull’s immune system to help him fight the virus.
- Cleft Lip/Palate – Cleft lips are usually only a ‘beauty’ concern. They don’t normally need to be repaired. Cleft palates should be operated on to repair them.
- Babesia Infections – Dogs that heave survived may relapse. There is no vaccine for babesia. Your veterinarian will probably prescribe antibiotics and discuss any alternatives, such as blood transfusion, with you.
- Deafness – There is no treatment or cure for a deaf dog. Your deaf pit bull just needs more patience from you.
Some of these health issues I had never heard of before I got my boy. Most of them he never had. My pittie had major skin problems though. And there was definitely going on with one of his right back leg. Unfortunately there wasn’t much that my vet could do at the time but recommend diet changes and aspirin. As far as his leg, there really wasn’t anything that I could have done to stop it… other than to not let him be a dog. He loved to run and play. It would have broken his spirit if I kept him from being himself. The skin issues? We never did figure it out. We tried different foods, medications, oils… The only thing that seemed to give him any relief was adding pumpkin to his kibble. After a week of pumpkin twice a day his skin seemed to not be as itchy. Though the itch never seemed to entirely go away.
Hopefully, if you see any odd behaviors in your pit bull, all of this information will give you a starting point. But please, if you do have any concerns about your pittie, talk to your veterinarian. The sooner a problem can be identified the better.