Common Health Issues for Pit Bulls

Pitbulls are generally very healthy and sturdy dogs that are known for their immense loyalty, tenacity and ready affection. However, some individual Pitbulls can be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses and health problems. Common Pitbull disorders include hip and elbow dysplasia, allergies, deafness, congenital heart defects, bloat and cataracts.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic hip deformity that can be passed from one generation of Pitbulls to the next. It can affect one or both hips and can be painful and debilitating to the point that it limits the dog’s mobility. Surgery for this condition is very expensive, and hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis later in a dog’s life. Pitbulls are also prone to get elbow dysplasia which has similar repercussions.

SEE ALSO: How To Train Pit Bull Puppies

One of the more common genetic health issues for pitbulls is allergies including seasonal allergies, grass and dust allergies and sometimes even an allergy to fleas. This can result in itchy, bumpy skin rashes and can cause the dog to scratch so vigorously that it results in serious skin infections. Feeding the Pitbull a high quality diet and using skin moisturizers will often help. Medication can be taken for more severe allergies.

Deafness is another genetic predisposition of Pitbulls. Some of these dogs are born deaf, and many become deaf after a serious ear infection which can also be common in Pitbulls. Oftentimes, when owners don’t know their dog is deaf, they assume it’s misbehaving or ignoring their commands, often resulting in Pitbull abuse. It’s important for owners to have their Pitbull tested if they have any inclination that their dog might be deaf.

Some Pitbulls are afflicted with congenital heart disease which is present from birth. When this is present, the dog is born with a very narrow connection between the heart and the aorta which can cause symptoms as mild as a heart murmur and as severe as sudden death. This abnormality can be detected with a simple x-ray or electrocardiogram. Dogs with a mild abnormality can live a normal and healthy life, but those with more severe defects will probably require surgery. If the congenital heart disease is serious enough, often dogs do not live past the first year.

Another disorder common to Pitbulls is stomach bloat and torsion. This can strike very quickly and requires immediate surgery. The stomach actually twists in on itself and cuts off blood flow, causing severe pain and sometimes death. Because it can happen without warning, Pitbull owners are encouraged to watch for general signs of pain, dry heaving, drooling and pale lips and gums. The dog may also pace and become overly restless. Once a Pitbull experiences this stomach torsion, it is highly likely to occur again. Therefore, during surgery, the dog’s stomach is often tacked to prevent recurrence. Stomach tacking is sometimes done as a preventative measure even in Pitbulls that have not experienced bloat and torsion.

Lastly, Pitbulls are prone to congenital cataracts which are similar to cataracts in humans. The eyes become cloudy and unable to translate light to the retina efficiently. Most often, Pitbulls do not advance to blindness, and their cataracts are easily treated with surgery.
In general, Pitbulls are incredibly healthy dogs. Like other breeds, they do have some diseases and health issues passed down genetically. Many of these health problems can be tested for before or shortly after birth, and the likelihood of treatment and cure is high.

  • Terry Loveless

    I love this breed

  • Alison Howton

    Demodectic mange is another common ailment that is passed genetically at birth due to poor backyard breeding. My rescued pittie suffers this. However, it’s easy to control. After her initial outbreak at 6 months and 8 weeks of a chemical dip treatment, all I’ve had to do is feed her a high quality, grain free dry food and make sure she gets fish oil, probiotic, and digestive enzyme supplementation. Not a single outbreak since…2 1/2yrs :-)

  • Antonios Hamouridis

    Hi my bitch is 4 years old and I have noticed two lumps above her nipple it’s seem like they are on a string one the size of a walnut the other a pea booked her in for Friday at the vet has anyone come across something like this

    • Traci Skinner

      It could be a number of things my dog has what the vet has said is like moles on his skin they are small like pea size but if its bigger it could be anything my brother’s mastiff mix has large growths and they are cancerous. Best thing to do take her to the Vet have them tested and go from there. Good luck hope its really nothing.

      • Antonios Hamouridis

        Thank for your advise took her to vet on Friday they done a biopsy and will get back to me in a week but the vet said he don’t want to scare my but he thinks it’s cancer prey his wrong will find out soon
        Subject: Re: New comment posted on Common Health Issues for Pit Bulls

  • Kenda Knitter

    our female pitty just 4 yrs old has awful food allergies… cant eat the food in the stores. she has to eat blue buffalo only. no grains or additives. also pure treats. she gets so bad that she digs her ears open and they bleed. vet says she gets yeast in her ears. but she loves her food, in fact the vet says she needs to lose about 8 lbs. try telling our rosie that.LOL

  • Heather Hampsey

    What is considered a HIGH quality diet? My pittie has allergies and so far we put on resicort leave-on lotion on his skin after a bath. I use shampoo with baking soda, but he is still itching. I want to help him feel better. Any help is welcomed

    • Lori Barton

      We took all the grains out of our pits diet…feeding her a taste of the wild….but you can also try raw or kibble that doesn’t contain high allergens such as egg beets and grains. Our pit also has a flea allergy. We use diatomaceous earth to help control the fleas

    • jeremy grab

      Anything all natural. I have 2 pits both with skin allergies. Certain foodd were causing hair loss and irritation. I feed the nutro(which they love), bkie buffalo is another good one, also the brand “before grain”. They are all natural but also $50+. Hope this helps.

  • Kevin Johnston

    my pit bull sandi ,is three years old and i noiticed pea sized lumps and had i biopsy and she has stage two cancerand im devestated .She is best friend in the world and they are known to get cancer in the lymphnodes

  • jeremy grab

    I have a 96 lb blue pit. And since birth he has had ear problems. Ive been to vet 3 times and they just put him on meds, it goes away and come back when the meds are done. Its a thick black tar looking substance when i ckean his ears. He cant stop shaking his head and it stresses him out bad. Any suggestions please?

    • repomike

      I have the same issue with my blue pit. He has been to the vet several times, given drops and it clears up and keeps coming back. If I take a wet Q-tip and clean his ears often it tends to reduce the problem

  • Jacob Carrasco

    I love this miss understood puppies, the really dont get the credit they deserve for being both good friends and even rescue dogs. So to everyone who loves pits like i do, keep loven those big puppies. :)

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