Max isn’t an old dog yet, but as a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be aware of the health issues that my four-legged friend could experience as he ages.
While Pit Bulls are very strong, resilient and well-built animals, that does not mean that they won’t develop health conditions. In fact, as most beings age – even the strongest – they will experience complications with their health. Pit Bulls do, too.
A lot of the health issues that Pit Bulls face as they grow older is due to their genetic makeup. Here’s a look at some of the most common afflictions that Pit Bulls experience as they age.
This is a hereditary defect that develops in the joints between the hips and the hind legs. As a result, they can experience pain or discomfort, which can cause them to walk with an uneven gait.
There is the potential to treat hip dysplasia with surgery; however, the best thing Pit owners can do is to manage their pup’s weight with a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. The more weight a Pit gains, the greater the chance that he will develop this issue as he ages.
Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a hereditary defect that impacts the elbow joint. It occurs as a result of abnormal cell growth, tissues or bones within the elbow. In short, it causes malformation and degeneration in the elbow joint.
Pit Bulls who develop this condition will usually exhibit lameness in their elbow, which can show suddenly, or can be aggravated by exercise, or when the dog has been sitting still for long periods of time.
This endocrine condition affects the amount of hormone the thyroid creates. It is usually an autoimmune response and it can cause dry skin or coats, hair loss, weight gain and changes in behavior, including aggression and/or fearfulness.
Pit Bulls are also prone to cataracts, or the thickening and clouding of the lens in the eye. There isn’t anything that can be done to prevent it. It can impact their vision, making them stumble or walk into things. Generally, cataracts are left untreated, though surgery is an option of the vision does become very impaired. If your Pit Bull does develop cataracts, make sure to make special accommodations for him. Move objects out of his way that he may walk into, and don’t introduce new objects in a space that he is very familiar with, as he may not be able to see them, which could make him more likely to bump into them.
Heart Disease and Congenital Heart Defects
Many Pit Bulls develop heart disease and congenital heart defects as they age. These issues can include malformations of the heart valves and irregularities in the heart rhythm. Oftentimes, these issues are minor and won’t require treatment, especially in dogs that are otherwise healthy; however, if the condition is severe, or if the dog is experiencing other health problems, surgery may be necessary to repair the issue.
In my post about what I feed Max, I stated that he was suffering from allergies, which caused his skin to become inflamed, scaly and itchy. Skin allergies are not uncommon in Pit Bulls, even in young ones, like Max. In most cases, allergies can be controlled with diet, which is what I was able to do for Max; however, in extreme cases, antihistamines may be needed. Also, washing a Pit that suffers from allergies with specially formulated shampoos and applying topical ointments can be very helpful.
Overall, the Pit Bull is a strong and resilient breed; however, this dog can develop certain issues, and it is in their best interest for owners to be aware of the health problems that they may develop as they age.