Pit bull eyes are prone to few genetic disorders, but the breed can suffer from other eye conditions common to many breeds. There are three main breeds that are generally referred to as pit bulls: the American pit bull, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American Staffordshire terrier.
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American pit bull eye problems
The American pit bull, a breed recognized by the United Kennel Club, is genetically prone to a few diseases that affect the eyes. Progressive renal atrophy is a common concern. While the disease isn't painful for the dog, it does cause incurable blindness. The first symptoms usually occur when the dog is about 3 to 5 years old. You may notice that he has dilated pupils or night blindness.
Another genetic condition that may occur in pit bulls is a progressive neurological condition called neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. The primary symptoms include weakness in the hind legs and a lack of balance. However, as the disease worsens, dogs may lose their sight. There is no cure for either of these diseases, but responsible breeders will test for these conditions and will not breed any dog that carries the gene that causes them.
Staffordshire bull terrier eye problems
Juvenile hereditary cataracts usually appear when the dog is between 1 and 3 years old and usually affect both eyes. It appears as cloudiness in the eye as a result of tissue breakdown. In some dogs, it progresses slowly, while others experience a rapid progression of the disease. Dogs lose the ability to see clearly and in some cases go completely blind. Surgery is possible but is not always effective.
PHPV is a developmental problem that occurs while the puppy is still an embryo. While the embryo is developing, there are blood vessels in the eye that are reabsorbed in healthy dogs. However, the blood vessels remain in dogs with PHPV, obscuring the dog's vision and sometimes causing total blindness. Veterinarians typically diagnose the condition when the puppy is 8 to 12 weeks of age. If the condition is severe, your vet may recommend surgery.
American Staffordshire terrier eye problems
The American Staffordshire terrier may suffer from a few inherited eye conditions, including distichiasis and entropion. Entropion occurs when the eyelid curls toward the eye, bringing the lashes in contact with the eyeball, and distichiasis is a condition where your dog grows extra eyelashes or hair on the inside of the eyelid. Both conditions cause the hairs to rub against the cornea of the eye, causing irritation, pain, and potential loss of sight.
The breed is also prone to cerebellar ataxia, a type of neurodegenerative disorder. Vision loss is one potential symptom, but the condition does not specifically attack the eye. Other symptoms include a stiff gait, lack of coordination and balance, and weakness.
Other conditions that affect pit bull eyes
Other conditions and diseases that are common to all dogs also affect pit bull eyes. For example, conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a condition that many dogs may contract. It may be caused by allergies or a bacterial infection, and the treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Pit bulls may also injure or scratch their cornea. This may happen when they paw their face or as a result of grass or dirt in their eye.
Pit bulls may also get nonhereditary cataracts as they age, causing cloudy eyes, inflammation, and loss of sight. Glaucoma is another condition that can lead to sight loss. It occurs when the fluid in the dog's eye doesn't drain properly, causing high amounts of pressure inside the eye. Possible treatment options include medication and surgery.
If you notice any abnormal symptoms in your dog's eye, whether that be redness, inflammation, discharge, or excessive blinking or if you suspect your dog cannot see clearly, contact your veterinarian right away. Once your vet diagnoses the problem, you can determine the best treatment options for your pup.
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- Aubrey Animal Medical Center: American Staffordshire Terrier
- AnimaLabs: NCL-A – Cerebellar Ataxia
- PitBullLovers.com: The Most Complete Pit Bull Website for Owners of the Web