What is a Pit Bull?
When we talk Pit Bulls, theres a few different varieties we're talking about here in the US: American Bullys, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldogs, or any mix in between. They're easy to identify with their short, stocky, and muscular body with a short snout.
In Human Years
The average lifespan for a Pit Bull is typically 12-15 years, and they're eligible for the senior discounts in life by 7 or 8 when they enter their later years. While they're technically a senior though, you might not notice it without the birth certificate as they'll run around almost as crazy as before but you might start to notice them sleeping a bit more compared to what they did when they were younger.
Helping Pit Bulls Live Longer
Whether you lean towards an all natural raw food diet or opt for a more conventional kibble based one, feeding your Pit Bull a high quality food goes a long way towards helping them live a long and healthy life. With their muscular build, Pit Bulls need to make sure they're getting the right levels of protein and amino acids to build healthy weight, and ensure they're getting healthy oils like Omega 3 and Omega 6 either through salmon and tuna sources or supplemented in their diet.
Keeping their weight in check
Depending on the variety of Pit Bull, you want to keep them in the 35-60 lbs range and this will go a long way towards living a healthy and happy life. While Pit Bulls aren't known to turn food down, keeping the number of treats and human food they get to a minimum will also help to keep their weight in check. This also helps their joints with less wear and tear over the years, preventing things like ACL/CCL issues in the future.
Checkins with the vet (preventative care, vaccinations)
Working closely with your vet proactively will help to check key vitals, prescribe preventatives like flea, tick, and heart-worm meds, as well as help to answer questions as they come up. Recently vaccines like lyme disease have become available for those living in areas with heavy tick populations that can prevent them from getting sick in case of a bite.
Common health issues with Pit Bulls
Things to keep an eye out for include Heart Conditions, Hip Dysplasia, Torn ACL/CCL, and Common Allergies.
Pit Bulls are prone to some congenital disability that impact their Heart and can cause issues and abnormalities in their heart rhythm. Typically these heart murmurs while sounding terrifying don't impact their daily life. If you notice that your dog is getting tired too quickly, panting excessively, or is more lethargic than you think they should be, its worth checking in with your vet to make sure everything is ok first.
This is when your dog's hip socket (belonging to the femur) and ball do not connect perfectly, which can cause inflammation and discomfort over time. While in extreme cases surgery might be required, ask your vet if you suspect it. Owners typically notice a 'bunny hop' gait, hind leg lameness, or having trouble going up and down stairs as the early symptoms of hip dysplasia.
Pit Bulls love to run at top speed (especially chasing after a ball) and can lead to a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which is functionally equivalent to the ACL that we have. It's always load bearing, so it can be more susceptible to injury especially if your Pit Bull is bigger and more muscular. Injury isn't the only way to have problems here though, over time regular wear and tear on the knees and loss of muscle strength in the hind legs can all lead towards developing a higher risk for CCL tears. If you suspect these, talk to your vet to identify the right treatments for your dog to reduce pain and protect their knees.
Food is typically the number one culprit for allergies, check in with your vet to see if its worth switching to a different brand of food or one with different protein sources (sometimes switching from a more common chicken or beef based to a more novel protein like fish or buffalo can help).