Two Genetic-Based Conditions That May Manifest in Your Pit Bull

Posted on: 23 November 2016

Dogs are just like people in many ways. They have their own personality quirks and odd behaviors. They can also be the victim of genetic abnormalities. If you're considering adopting a pit bull puppy (or full-grown dog), here are two genetic conditions that can affect your canine friend and the possible treatment options you can employ to help him or her overcome the problem.

Deafness and Blindness

Dogs use their eyes and ears to explore the world. However, pit bulls can lose these valuable tools as early as puppyhood. In particular, solid white pit bulls have been known to either be born blind and deaf or to lose these senses within a few weeks after being born. Although albino pit bulls are the most affected by these issues, other colors of dogs can also fall victim to hearing and eyesight loss due to bad genes.

Blind and deaf dogs can live full, healthy lives just like other dogs with their full senses. However, it's critical the problem is recognized early so specialized training and socialization can be started right away.

Although most pit bull puppies aren't born blind, they do also have a genetic disposition for developing cataracts. Like in humans, cataracts make your dog's vision blurry or cloudy, making it difficult for them to easily navigate unfamiliar surroundings. However, your dog won't go blind completely, and the problem is easily fixed with surgery.

Tail Chasing

Another genetic issue that may manifest is chronic, compulsive tail chasing. This is when the pit bull starts spinning around in circles (i.e. chase its tail) for inexplicable reasons and sometimes for long periods of time. As you can imagine, this behavior can make your canine friend ill and may lead to neurological damage.

It's believed compulsive tail chasing may be triggered by environmental stress, such as a new baby in the home, abrupt schedule changes, or being punished. There are a couple of ways this condition can be treated. One way is through drug therapy. A vet may prescribe medication to regulate your pet's serotonin and dopamine levels. Low serotonin and high dopamine levels have been associated with compulsive behavior in dogs. Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication may fix this problem and get your dog acting normally again.

Another option for treating chronic tail chasing is through behavior modification. This typically involves you monitoring your dog very closely for cues he or she will start tail chasing and then distracting your pet with an alternate activity, such as playing with a chew toy. This can help teach the dog to comfort him or herself in more productive, healthier ways.

For more information about health concerns you may have to deal with when you adopt a pit bull, contact a veterinarian and talk to a pit bull breeder.