5 Common Pitbull Health Conditions (Symptoms & Prevention) (2023)

While Pit Bulls, including blue & red nose pits, are fairlyhealthy overall, like all dogs they are more prone to certain health problems.

Today, we’re going to learn about symptoms & preventive measures for common pit bull health conditions.

Whether you’re thinking of adopting one of these sweet “nanny dogs” or already brought one home and want to know what to watch for, these tips will help you catch these common pitbull illnesses & diseases early so your pup can live a long & happy life with you!

Related: How to care for a sick dog at home

Common Pit Bull Health Problems

1. Hip Dysplasia

If you have a dog (of any breed), then you’ve most likely have heard the medical term “hip dysplasia.” This is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in the canine species and is characterized by a malformation of the ball and socket of the hip joint.

Hip dysplasia usually begins when the dog is still young and physically immature. Dogs (like the Pit Bull) that are prone to this condition should have an x-ray done at two years-of-age (if they are going to be bred) to ensure they do not have any hip issues.

If your Pittie does develop hip dysplasia, weight control and surgery may be required.

(Video) 6 Best ways to cure your Pit bull's skin allergies at home!

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in the Pit Bull

  • Uneven, swaying or “bunny hopping” gait
  • Pain
  • Decreased range of motion/activity
  • Lameness in hind end
  • Looseness in joint
  • Narrow stance
  • Difficulty or reluctance in rising, jumping, running, and climbing stairs
  • Grating in the joint during movement

Wondering about the lifespan of your pup? Check out

2. Heart Disease

The Pit Bull is prone to heart disease. This includes congenital heart disease (born with it) in the form of aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the left ventricle and the aorta.

This breed can also have an irregular heart rhythm or a heart murmur. Your veterinarian can easily diagnose an irregular heartbeat or murmur by simply listening to your dog’s heart. Depending on the severity of the condition, your Pitty may require further testing such as an echocardiogram and/or a chest x-ray and a treatment plan which could include diet control and medication.

Symptoms of Heart Disease in the Pit Bull

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Fainting/collapsing
  • Behavior changes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Restlessness
  • Swelling of body tissue

3. Hypothyroidism

There is a small gland located close to the dog’s voice box in its neck called the thyroid gland. It is responsible for making a hormone called, ‘thyroxine,’ which controls the dog’s metabolism. When your pet has hypothyroidism, it means the thyroid gland is not producing enough of this hormone.

5 Common Pitbull Health Conditions (Symptoms & Prevention) (2)

The good news is, this condition is highly treatable with medication and is not usually life-threatening.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in the Pit Bull

(Video) Best way to PREVENT Allergies for Pit bulls in 2022!

  • Hair loss – tail, trunk, and on the back of the hind legs
  • Dull, thin coat
  • Flakey skin
  • Black patches of skin
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle loss
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Sluggishness
  • Intolerance to the cold
  • Toenail and ear infections

4. Cataracts

This condition is characterized by a thickening and cloudiness to the lens of the eye. Cataracts can develop from disease, (such as diabetes), old age or trauma to the eye; however, most of the time it is a genetic disorder. Cataracts may be present at birth or develop when a dog is very young (between one and three years-of-age).

Cataracts can lead to blurred vision, glaucoma or even blindness if left untreated.

Symptoms of Cataracts in the Pit Bull

  • Bluish, gray, or white layer on eye
  • Clumsiness
  • Reluctance to jump onto furniture or climb stairs
  • Persistent rubbing or scratching the eyes
  • Irritation, redness, discharge or blinking

Do red and blue nose pit bull health conditions differ? Check out “What is the Difference Between Blue Nose and Red Nose Pit Bulls?” to find out!

5. Allergies

Allergies are also one of the most common pit bull health issues, but thankfully it’s also among the easiest to treat on this list. Pitbull Skin allergies are typically caused by environmental allergens such as fleas, grass, pollen, and dust. However, allergies can also be caused by food, although this is less common is the Pit Bull. Typical food allergens include beef, rice, wheat, and corn.

Even though allergies may be perceived as a “lesser” threat than the above conditions, they can still cause discomfort to your Pitty. Severe allergies can also lead to secondary infections which can develop into tissue damage if left untreated.

To treat allergies, identifying and removing the cause from the dog’s environment can be all it takes. However, sometimes medications may also be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms.

Symptoms of Allergies in the Pit Bull

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  • Severe itchiness
  • Scratching
  • Red, moist, or scabbed skin
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy back or base of the tail
  • Itchy ears and/or ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These common health problems may seem scary. Get your Pit Bull regular check-ups with your veterinarian so he or she can watch for any signs of a genetic disorder. Catching an illness in its beginning stages is one way to ensure your Pittie’s long life.

Want more ways to help keep your Pit Bull healthy and happy? Read on…

Best Preventative Methods for a Healthy Pit Bull

They say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true when it comes to the health and welfare of our fur babies. The Pit Bull, albeit a tough and rugged breed, is still no exception. Check out these best preventative methods to help keep the common pit bull health problems at bay.

Nutritional Needs of the Pit Bull

The Pit Bull is a muscular dog that has a high activity level. Plus, he’s a hearty eater. Being so, the Pittie needs a high quality, high protein diet that includes plenty of nutrients and vitamins. Be sure to research your dog food options by reading the side of the kibble bag for one that will meet your pet’s nutritional needs.

Look for food that uses only identified meat sources (such as chicken, turkey, beef, etc.) with the minimal of fillers in the form of wheat, corn, soy, and animal by-products.

Also note that Pit Bulls can be big moochers, accepting table scraps and human food any chance they get. Pittie pet parents should try to refrain from sharing their food as this breed is prone to obesity. Providing your pooch with a properly proportioned diet will also help prevent the onset of hip dysplasia and promote overall good health and longevity.

Feeling overwhelmed by the ingredients on dog food bags? Learn how to demystify dog food labels!

Daily Exercise of the Pit Bull

Because the Pit Bull was derived (partly) from the Terrier breed, it has a genetic predisposition to exercise. The breed is energetic and agile so finding ways to burn off all the excess “fuel” shouldn’t be a problem. Here are some fun and satisfying ways to exercise your Pittie;

  • Running – the Pit Bull loves to run, and run, and run. Find a path, park or a quiet neighborhood to take your pooch for daily, moderately long runs. This not only gets out all those “zoomies” but it’s a fine way to keep both you and your Pit Bull’s muscle tone, as well as for weight management.
  • Play Tug – Most dogs love a good game of tug, the Pittie is no exception. For this activity use a strong rope or stuffed toy – remember the Pit Bull is powerful so be sure your tug toy can withstand the pressure. Also when playing tug you will want to monitor your pooch’s intensity level so it doesn’t escalate into nipping or mouthing. Playful growling can also be expected and is normal for any breed of dog.
  • Scent Walks – a dog’s smell is its number one sense so take him to a new area and let him follow his nose (as long as it’s not going to lead him into harm’s way or break any laws).
  • Agility – if you love to teach your dog new skills, then why not try your hand and his paw at agility? This sport requires your dog to complete an obstacle course that consists of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, tires, balance beams, and more. It’s a fantastic way to not only give your pit bull the physical exercise he craves but also to mentally stimulate him as well.
  • Flyball and Frisbee – another fun sport that many pet parents are engaging their dogs in is Flyball and Frisbee. Both of these require your dog to leap, jump, and run (which the Pittie loves to do).
  • Fetch – sure, it may sound like a “basic” playtime activity, but engaging your pup in a game that allows him to chase a moving target, locate it, retrieve it, then return it to you, is the “cat’s meow,” (or at least a dog-gone good time). Plus, all you have to do is stand there! Winner, winner chicken dinner, works for me.

Check out these fun Games to Play with Your Pit Bullfor even more great ideas!

Early Socialization of the Pit Bull

All puppies needearly socialization.Socializing your Pit Bull is key to having a well-rounded and confident dog. This can be done through obedience classes, and playing in an area where there are other dogs and people, like a dog park.

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Allowing your Pittie puppy to meet new people and experience new places, all in a safe and controlled manner, will keep him from becoming timid and unruly as an adult.

Like all purebreds, the Pit Bull does have some common health problems that can be linked to its genetic makeup.

These include hip dysplasia, heart disease, hypothyroidism, cataracts, and allergies. However, with proper care like a high-quality diet, exercise, early socialization, and check-ups with your veterinarian, your Pittie can live a long and healthy life.

If you are a Pit Parent and would like to share some tips on dealing with these common Pit Bull health problems or you have any questions we’d love to hear them. Just comment below!

  • 5 Common Pitbull Health Conditions (Symptoms & Prevention) (4)

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What are the most common health issues with pitbulls? ›

The Pit Bull tends to suffer from bone diseases such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy and kneecap dislocation. The Pit Bull can also suffer from skin problems, such as mange and skin allergies, because of its short coat. Other health ailments seen in Pit Bulls include thyroid and congenital heart defects.

What are common pitbull 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.

Do Bully pitbulls have health problems? ›

Common American Bully health issues include hip and elbow dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, heart disease, ear infections, and dental disease.

What are common pitbull behaviors? ›

Most pit bulls are fun-loving companions, gentle and patient with all their family members (with the very likely exception of other pit bulls). As with all breeds, there are exceptions. Pit bulls were bred to be courageous and game, to continue whatever they are doing in the face of adversity.

What skin conditions do pitbulls have? ›

Your Pitbull is prone to a form of skin infection called zinc-responsive dermatosis, in which he either isn't getting enough zinc in his diet or doesn't absorb it properly. Signs include red, hairless, crusting, scaling, or oozing skin around the mouth, chin, eyes, and ears or lesions on the foot pads and nose.

What two dogs make a pitbull? ›

Ratting and dogfighting both required more agility and speed on the part of the dog, so Bulldogs were crossed with Terriers “Bull and Terriers”, more commonly known as the first Pit Bull Terrier.

What is the difference between a pitbull and a pitbull? ›

Pit Bull is a description for a type of dog, but American Pit Bull Terriers are a breed. Other breeds that rightfully fall under the term “Pit Bull” include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American bulldog, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

How long should a pitbull live? ›

The Pit Bull is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-14 years. They can suffer from some common conditions like hip dysplasia and allergies. Early diagnosis is the key to a long and happy life so be sure to schedule routine checkups.

What is the best allergy medicine for pit bulls? ›

The most common antihistamine for dogs is diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl). Also found in ProSense Dog Itch & Allergy Solutions Tablets, diphenhydramine is safe in most dogs if given in the recommended dosage of 1 mg of diphenhydramine per pound of body weight given by mouth.

What foods are blue nose pitbulls allergic to? ›

Bluenose pitbull allergies result from grass, pollen, ticks, and flies. These allergens cause atopic dermatitis in bluenose Pitbulls. Food allergies are also common in blue pits with the main culprits being wheat and grain.

Can pitbulls be allergic to grass? ›

A dog can become allergic to anything, but grass is one of the most common. A dog's allergy to grass is similar to a human being's allergy to pollen from trees. The pollen from the grass can cause an allergic reaction in dogs, and can develop at some point in its life.

Do pitbulls have mental problems? ›

National Attention

“Every dog is an individual,” Gorant says. “Pit bulls are just dogs and if they are not raised properly and socialized and treated right, they can have behavior problems. But they aren't any more problematic than any other breed by nature.”

Can pit bulls stomachs flip? ›

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a serious condition and is fatal if left untreated. Commonly referred to as "bloat," GDV occurs when a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and subsequently twists. GDV develops without warning and can progress quickly. It is always an emergency.

What two dogs make a Bully? ›

Bully dogs are descendants from crosses between ancient bulldogs and a variety of British terriers. The crossing of the bulldog and the British terrier produced a breed called the Bull-and-Terrier that combined the muscle power and tenacity of the bulldog with the terrier's alertness, agility and speed.

Are pitbulls Velcro dogs? ›

Pit bulls are considered the original “Velcro dog.” Besides always staying as close as possible to you, they love to cuddle, snuggle, crawl into your lap, and roll over for rubs. It is commonly thought that they are all aggressive towards people.

Do pitbulls sense fear? ›

Movements and actions, such as stiffening up or staring straight at dogs, can be seen and interpreted by dogs to lead to a conclusion that a particular person is afraid and therefore may present a threat. Rather than smelling fear, it's probably more accurate to say that dogs can sense fear.

Why do pit bulls play bite? ›

Pitbull attacks can happen for a number of reasons, but most often, it's due to poor or improper training by the dog's owner. Some owners may even train their animals to be aggressive, which is a recipe for horror. When a dog owner fails to train or socialize any dog properly, that animal may bite without provocation.

Why does my pitbull turn pink? ›

Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, explains that porphyrin is the most common reason for pink, red, orange, or brown stains on your dog's fur. Porphyrin is “the chemical breakdown product associated with red blood cells,” Dr. Klein says.

What can I give my pitbull for itchy skin? ›

How to Treat Your Dog's Itchy Skin
  • Over-the-counter shampoos and oils. Treatments like coconut oil and itch-relief shampoos only provide temporary relief. ...
  • Antihistamines. ...
  • Prescription steroids.
Aug 2, 2022

How smart is a pitbull? ›

They are known to be very smart, which is why many owners train them for dog sports like Canicross or Agility: they are very good at playing and learning new skills.

What is a purebred pitbull called? ›

While the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is the only formal breed with the term "pit bull" in its name, there are four breeds that are commonly included in the modern pitbull-type category - the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bully.

How do you get a pitbull to release its bite? ›

2) If the dogs have begun fighting, grab the aggressor by his tail and pull up and backwards. When grabbed by their tail, most dogs will also release a bite grip. Continue moving backwards, pulling the dog by its tail so that he cannot turn around and bite you.

What 3 breeds make a pitbull? ›

“Pit Bull” is an umbrella term commonly reported to contain the following 3 registered breeds of dogs: Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier.

Can pitbulls be house dogs? ›

Pit bulls are primarily house dogs. One great aspect of pit bulls is the fact that they have short coats and don't shed much. Obviously, this is ideal if you aren't interested in dealing with a house covered in fur. However, it also means that pit bulls are primarily house dogs.

How do you tell if your dog is a pitbull? ›

However, the only way to know whether a dog is one of these breeds is to run a DNA test on the dog–and today's DNA tests aren't exactly cheap. For this reason, most people identify “pit bulls” based on individual visual assessments.

What is the mental age of a Pit Bull? ›

According to several behavioral measures, Coren says dogs' mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years.

What age do pit bulls slow down? ›

They do not typically slow down until they hit 5 years of age, and sometimes, not even then. We recommend: daily running, climbing, agility, weigh pulling, tire swinging, hiking...you get the gist. Any kind of strenuous activity will drain a Pit Bulls energy.

What age do pitbulls calm down? ›

After two years of age, most Pitbulls will calm down.

For some, it might take up to two and a half years. Either way, their mental development catches up with their physical development. They're fully mature at this stage, and their temperament will reflect that.

How often should you bathe a Pitbull with skin allergies? ›

Bathing once a week will help relieve pain and itching, and increase healing and recovery from any infections. Once the infection has been treated, either with antibiotics or in many cases with a cream, you should be able to reduce bathing to every two weeks.

Can you give a Pitbull Benadryl? ›

By and large, Benadryl is very well-tolerated in dogs, with few side effects and a low risk of overdose. It remains one of the safest over-the-counter drugs that veterinarians frequently reach for and recommend for their canine patients.

Can pitbulls have Benadryl? ›

Benadryl is safe to give your dog for allergies, anxiety, motion sickness, and vaccine side effects. Though a typical Benadryl pill is 25 mg, you should only give your dog 0.9-1.8 mg per pound of weight.

What foods are toxic to pitbulls? ›

Avoid giving a dog:
  • Avocado. Avocados contain a substance called persin, which is toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Cherries. Cherry pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous. ...
  • Chocolate, coffee, and caffeine. ...
  • Raisins and grapes. ...
  • Citrus fruits. ...
  • Cinnamon. ...
  • Coconut products. ...
  • Nuts.
Feb 14, 2019

Can pitbulls eat chicken? ›

Considering how many dog foods contain chicken as an ingredient, it's a safe bet that you can feed your dog chicken. In fact, it's a good source of protein, and cooked chicken can even be substituted for or added to his regular meal.

Why do pitbulls itch? ›

Flea allergy dermatitis, seasonal allergies or atopy, food allergies, contact dermatitis (e.g., soaps and perfumes), and sarcoptic mange (mites) are some of the most common causes of pruritus in dogs.

Can Apple cider vinegar help dogs with allergies? ›

Apple Cider Vinegar can be added to your dog's diet to support him through an allergy reaction internally and it can also be used topically for particularly itchy or inflamed skin during allergy season.

Can I feed my Pitbull raw meat? ›

Yes, dogs can eat raw meat, but giving dogs raw meat only is not advisable. Raw food diets have grown in popularity in recent years. The surge in people embracing raw diets for dogs may stem from pet owners hoping to feed their dogs foods that more closely resemble how the dogs would have eaten in the wild.

What is the average life expectancy of a Pit Bull? ›

The Pit Bull is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-14 years. They can suffer from some common conditions like hip dysplasia and allergies. Early diagnosis is the key to a long and happy life so be sure to schedule routine checkups.

At what age do pitbulls get hip dysplasia? ›

Dogs can start showing signs of hip dysplasia as early as a few months old, but it is most common to start seeing symptoms in dogs one to two years of age. However, it is possible to not see symptoms until later on in a dog's life, as the disease can develop alongside other diseases such as osteoarthritis.

What are the signs of hip dysplasia in dogs? ›

Weakness and pain in the hind legs are the usual clinical signs. The dog appears wobbly and is reluctant to rise from a sitting or lying position. Some dogs will limp or be reluctant to climb stairs. These signs can be seen in puppies as early as a few months old but are most common in dogs one to two years of age.

How long do unhealthy pitbulls live? ›

Life expectancy ranges from 10 - 14 years, depending on several factors. Today we will look at why some Pitbulls die earlier than others, and what you can do to guarantee a long and healthy life for your Pittie!

How many hours of exercise does a pitbull need? ›

Pit bulls are also energetic, and should get a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. As with all dogs, be sure your pit bull has up-to-date vaccinations, as well as annual or semi-annual veterinary check-ups.

Which dog lives longest? ›

Australian Cattle Dogs

Bluey, an Australian cattle dog, entered the Guinness Book of World Records by living to the ripe old age of 29 years and 5 months, setting the record for oldest dog ever.

What are common pitbull leg injuries? ›

Pitbulls are prone to hip dysplasia and knee problems, such as torn ACLs/CCLs. Many have hind leg issues due to genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of the two. Luckily, there are many treatment options available so your pitbull can live a happy and healthy life.

How much does it cost to fix dog hip dysplasia? ›

Your pup's size and age, as well as the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, will all affect the price of FHO surgery. You can expect to pay from $1,200 to $2,500 or more, including pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care, and medications.

What is dog bunny hopping? ›

A bunny hop is characterized by the simultaneous movement of their hind legs to propel themselves forward when walking, running, and especially when going up and down stairs.

What are signs of arthritis in dogs? ›

The most common signs dog owners may notice include:
  • Difficulty getting up and down.
  • Walking stiffly.
  • Lameness in one or more legs.
  • Reluctance to go up and down steps.
  • Reluctance to jump up or down (onto/off furniture or into/out of a vehicle)
  • Reluctance to be touched on some parts of the body.

Which dogs sploot? ›

Although the Corgi is credited with making the sploot famous, all breeds of dogs and cats can sploot. Depending on their flexibility, animals can display an array of different sploots.

What age do Pitbulls get violent? ›

Pit bulls will commonly start developing signs of dog aggression between the ages of 8 months and 2 years, although it can develop at any age and can come on either gradually or quite suddenly. It is important to note that many pit bulls do not display the "typical" signs of dog aggression before a fight.

How long can a Pit Bull not eat? ›

Dogs can usually go three to five days without food, however, this is not ideal. If your dog has gone two days without food, it is highly recommended you call a veterinarian if you haven't already. More important than your dog eating is their water intake.


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