Having a pit bull is one of the happiest things a person can ever experience in their life. But part of owning this beautiful and majestic breed is also learning how to take care of them properly. Just like any other dog breed, pit bulls have specific needs that pet parents should keep in mind in order for them to thrive and live their lives to the full.

Allergies, hip dysplasia, and cataracts are a few of the unfortunate risks associated with the breed. This comprehensive guide will help prepare you for the causes, symptoms, treatment, and appropriate care your beloved pit bull will need if faced with common health issues in the future.

Pit Bulls In A Nutshell 

Pit Bulls are one of the most misunderstood breeds. They are often classified as dangerous animals that will harm anything and everything that they come into contact with. But what people need to know is that their fighting image has been brought about by humans that wanted to benefit from their strength. People need to realize how obedient, intelligent, and highly trainable they are. They also make fantastic companion and service animals. 

“Pit Bull” doesn’t mean one specific breed of dog. The word pit bull contains many kinds of dogs under one family. To date, many are still confused about which dog breed is considered a ‘pit bull.’ For starters, dogs under the pit bull family share common physical characteristics. Their bodies are relatively more muscular and toned compare to other breeds. They stand in medium height and have square-shaped snouts, as well. 

The most known types of pit bulls include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and some people even consider the American Bulldog a pit bull. Generally, this family of fearless-looking dogs is one of the sweetest, most loyal, fun-loving, and affectionate-hungry dogs you will find despite the stigma surrounding them. 

5 Common Pit Bull Health Issues 

Not known to many, pit bulls are prone to various health conditions. No matter how tough and independent they might seem, this breed actually relies heavily on consistent love and care from their human parents. Responding to their needs is easy if you are familiar with the diseases and symptoms to look out for. Read on to discover five of their common health problems.

1. Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland is a miniature gland close to your pit bull’s voice box. Its job is to produce a thyroxine, an important hormone that aids in your dog’s digestion. 

With hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland fails to manufacture enough thyroxine to assist your pet. The upside is, with proper medication and utmost care, hypothyroidism does not usually pose a “between life and death” situation.

Common symptoms to watch for are hairlessness behind the hind legs, trunk, and tail, dark coat, black skin patches, increase in weight, low heart rate, cold-sensitivity, and, ear and toe inflammation. 

2. Allergies 

Another usual health concern in pit bull-type dogs is allergies. The good news is, fair to say, it can be treated right away. Pit bull allergies are naturally due to pollen, grass, fleas, and many other external agents. In many scenarios, food like corn, wheat, and beef are not advisable for pit bull-type dogs as they can also give them itch, skin injuries, and uncomfortability. 

Yes, allergies may be considered “less threatening” compared to other canine health risks. However, you must not forget that it may still make your pets uncomfortable and unhappy. Moreover, if treated as if it’s nothing, an ordinary skin allergy can lead to serious, life-threatening concerns. 

To keep these allergies away from your fur babies, identify your pit bulls’ allergy triggers once and for all. Although at times,  medicinal intervention may help ease the symptoms and let your pit bull live a healthier life. 

Common symptoms to watch out for are severe itching, scratching, red and crusted skin, irritated eyes, back or ears, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

3. Heart Disease

The pit bull is prone to heart disease. It also includes congenital heart disease in the form of aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the left ventricle and the aorta.

Pit bulls can also have irregular heart rhythm. Veterinarians can quickly diagnose irregular heartbeat or murmur by just listening to your dog’s heart. Depending on the harshness of the condition, your pit bull may require more testing, such as an echocardiogram or a chest x-ray. They may also give your pitbull a treatment plan, which includes diet control and medication.

Common symptoms to watch out for are coughing, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weakness, fainting, behavior changes, weight change, restlessness, and body tissue swelling. 

4. Hip Dysplasia

If you have any kind of dog, then you probably have heard of the medical term hip dysplasia. This is one of the most common skeletal diseases within the canine world and is described by a malformation of the ball and socket of the hip joint.

Hip dysplasia usually starts when your pit bull is still young and physically immature. Dogs like the pit bull are prone to this condition and should have an x-ray done at two years-of-age, to ensure they do not have any hip issues. If your pit bull does develop hip dysplasia, a change in diet to help them lose weight and surgery may be required.

5. Cataracts

Cataracts are a condition that is described by thickening and cloudiness to the lens of the eye. Cataracts can develop from diseases like diabetes, trauma to the eye, and old age. However, most of the time, cataracts are hereditary. Cataracts may be inborn or develop when a dog is very young, between the ages of one and three years old. Cataracts can lead to blurred vision or blindness if ignored. 

Common symptoms to watch out for are bluish-gray or white layer on the eye, clumsiness, reluctant to jump, continuous scratching of the eye and redness, irritation, and discharge. 

How To Make Sure Your Pit Bull Lives A Healthy Lifestyle 

With a high risk of diseases, it is a surprise that pit bulls have a long lifespan of up to 16 years. And to avoid health problems pit bulls typically have, you have to make sure both their dietary and exercise needs are met.

Exercise – Your pit bull needs regular exercise so he/she can burn off that famous pittie energy.  Pit bulls are known athletes; that is why these pups need at least two hours of playtime every day. Remember, a happy pit bull is a healthy pit bull. 

Keep Her Trim – A chubby pit bull is an unhealthy pit bull. They can develop hip dysplasia and other health issues, which excess weight will make worse. Active joints and lean figures will lessen these effects on your pittie.

Create a tailored diet for your pit bull – Most pit bulls do well on high protein and very low grain diets. By avoiding low grain food, this will help prevent the common allergies pitties are known to be prone to get. Keep in mind that all dogs are different, and it is essential to find the right diet that will work for your pit bull. 

Enjoy getting to know your dog – Despite all the hard work, always remember to enjoy your dog. Whether your pup loves long hikes, swimming, or just plain old napping, you and your best friend deserve to enjoy all the wonderful bully love!

Frequently Asked Questions About Pit Bull Health Risks

At this point, we are pretty sure that you have picked up a few crucial and life-changing information about your pitties and how you have the power to make their lives better. But, this guide does not end there. In this section, you will find out more helpful answers to three of the frequently asked questions of other pit bull owners around the world. Keep reading, pittie parent! 

1. Do Pit Bulls Have a lot of health Problems?

Pit bulls are generally healthy but can have problems with hip dysplasia, cataracts, and allergies. Pitties usually live up to 16 years of age. They are energetic, muscular dogs with good skeletal formation. But just like all dogs, they can be prone to hip dysplasia, one of their primary health conditions. Dogs with hip dysplasia may experience pain or discomfort. 

This problem is addressed by surgery and is treated by proper weight management. They can also be vulnerable to cataracts, the thickening, and clouding of the eye lens. In older dogs, the condition is often ignored, although surgery is an option if eyesight becomes particularly impaired.

Pit bulls are prone to several forms of heart disease and congenital heart defects, including valve malformations and heart murmurs. Some of these problems are minor and can be ignored in an otherwise healthy dog, but some may require surgery and medication. 

This breed is also prone to different types of allergies, with some dogs even sensitive to grass. Skin irritations can be dealt with shampoos and ointments, and allergies are treated with antihistamines.

2. What Do Pit Bulls Suffer From?

health problems that affect pit bulls most often are skin allergies, bone diseases, thyroid problems, and congenital heart defects. It is fair to expect that this breed is prone to several skin diseases from allergies to skin-related cancer. Regular and consistent grooming prevents them from getting skin allergies. Sunburns, as well, are to look out for because of their shorter fur. Providing them shade is a must when taking care of a pit bull. 

Compared to other dogs, pitties are more prone to allergies. They are more likely to be affected by grass, pollen, ticks, or flies. A pit bull with allergies will lick, scratch, and shed abnormally. The scratching can cause wounds must be treated immediately to prevent skin infections.

Pit bulls are known to be energetic dogs, and they love to release their energy by playing around. Due to their productive activities, their CCL (cranial cruciate ligament), known as ACL in humans, are at risk, too. The CCL is a knee tissue that attaches the tibia to the bone on the thighs. Because your pets are always moving, the CCL takes a beating.

The CCL problem starts as a small tear, bearing signs like limping and painful moving, to be exact. However, with continuous and heavy physical movement from your companion, and without treatment, the condition may worsen. If ignored, it can blow up to more serious health concerns.

Pitties are also at a higher risk for Thyroid issues. You will notice your pittie to be overweight, with developing problems on the skin when thyroid glands do not produce enough hormones. Additionally, thyroid disease brings about changes in behavior such as aggression due to fear and pain. Ask your vet to do a series of tests to find out if your dog has thyroid disease. Your loving fur baby might need drug assistance from thyroxine to beat the disease.

3. What is the Average Life Expectancy of a Pit Bull?

It is sad to think that no dog lives as long as we wish they would. However, it is nice to hear how long our pets will be with us to give them all the love and care we can as long as we have them. Luckily, pit bulls are one of the breeds that are known to outlive many other types of dogs. 

The average lifespan of a pit bull is 12 to 14 years. However, your beloved pittie may live as long as 20 years without any severe health issues or terrible accidents; then, you can expect to have at least a dozen years with your pit bull. 

Conclusion

To sum it all up, you definitely have a resilient canine companion in your hands when you have a pit bull. But, even the strongest beings have weaknesses, too. In times when they cannot fight for themselves, it is comforting to know that you, their parents, are fully prepared to take on the battle for them. 

It does not take much to raise and nourish a pit bull. Most often than not, all it takes is adequate knowledge of their breed’s background and daily needs, attention, patience, care, and most of all, undying love.

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