Pitbulls are affectionate and intelligent dogs. However, they also love zoomies. They can hurt their legs during an overly exciting playtime. This is where Pitbull hind leg problems may arise.
Pitties are medium-sized dogs and they possess a rather stocky build. Unfortunately, they are also susceptible to various leg problems, either developed or inherited. But whatever the cause is, all of these require TLC and necessary treatments.
Why are Pitbulls prone to leg problems?
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The Pitbull breed is notoriously known for having hip problems. Even if it’s bred well and born with perfect health, not keeping watch of its gait and activities may soon cause the development of orthopedic issues.
Another thing is that Pitbulls have powerful bodies. They can run, chase, and zoom in too fast to the point that they can pull a muscle or tear a ligament. Their energy level is somewhat not suitable for their hind legs’ structure.
In this post, we’ll discuss the common leg problems of Pitties as well as the treatment and care needed for it.
When to go to the vet
Limping isn’t always an emergency situation for dogs. Some conditions can be attended at home with simple remedies. However, if your pooch seems to be in great pain, it’s time to tap the help of a vet.
It will cost some fee but a proper diagnosis is necessary. Also, it can possibly save you from bigger expenses by getting the condition cured as early as possible.
If you don’t mind spending some bucks, don’t hesitate to phone the vet when your Pittie starts to limp its hind legs. To guide you, here are some of the potential symptoms of serious puppy hind leg problems:
🐕Reluctance to walk, run, or even stand up
🐕Inflammation on the back legs or bottom
🐕Lack of leg coordination
🐕Licking paws, joints, and legs
🐕Wobbly or slow gait
If your Pitty shows many of these symptoms, you should consider it as a serious condition. Still, don’t panic and wait until the vet diagnoses the problem.
To check for the symptoms, here’s a short guide from Dr. Greg Martinez:
Common hind leg problems among Pitbulls
All dogs may develop or be born with skeletal problems. But for Pitties, there are some Pitbull hind leg problems on which they are the most susceptible.
Hip dysplasia is a common yet very chronic condition on which the ball and joint socket on the hips don’t form properly. This is an inborn condition which causes the femur to not fit exactly on the socket joint.
The loose hip bone rubs into the flesh and skin of the Pitty which will cause intense pain and discomfort. If not treated, this will branch to other skeletal and degenerative problems.
Pitbulls and other similar breeds are at a higher risk of hip dysplasia due to the way its weight is distributed at the back of the body. Still, this can be prevented if you get a pup from a responsible breeder.
As much as hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, there are cases when the dormant predisposition is triggered by nutritional problems. For example, a Pitty with a high risk of having hip dysplasia may succumb to the condition if it’s overweight and not exercised properly.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia
It’s quite tricky to spot hip dysplasia among dogs. Some of the symptoms of this condition are also observed in non-serious conditions. Still, you should check for the following:
🐕Lameness and reluctance to walk or run
🐕Looseness of the hind leg joint
🐕Abnormal enlargement of the shoulder muscles due to the front leg compensating for the back ones
🐕Stiffness of the back legs and intense pain
When you observe all or the majority of these symptoms on your Pitbull, you should bring your pet to the vet. It’s important to diagnose hip dysplasia right away to prevent it from worsening and causing other health problems.
Depending on the extent of the hip dysplasia, this condition can be treated through surgery or other non-invasive ways.
For Pitties with less severe puppy hind leg problems, the pain of hip dysplasia can be managed by losing weight or observing exercise restrictions on your dog. This won’t cure the problem, but it won’t require your dog to undergo an operation while still protecting its quality of life.
Some of the non-surgical treatment to hip dysplasia includes:
🐕Movement and exercise restrictions
🐕Application of joint fluid modifiers
🐕Pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medications
Here’s Dr. Andrew Jones with some home care alternatives for dogs with hip dysplasia:
If lifestyle modifications are too late to do, veterinarians will likely conduct a surgical operation to correct the abnormality. But to know if your doggo is a candidate for surgery, you first have to let the vet check the condition.
Here are some of the surgical treatments for hip dysplasia:
Total hip replacement. Using plastic or metal implants, the vet replaces the malformed hip. This is the treatment that is closer to restoring the natural function of the hip joint.
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy. For Pitties who are less than 10 months old but suffering from hip dysplasia, this would be the ideal treatment. Here, the vet performs selective pelvic bone cuts and segment rotation to enhance the function of the hips.
Femoral head ostectomy. This surgical treatment can be done to dogs of any age. Here, the vet will cut the femoral head so the dog will feel less pain. Although it won’t restore hip function, it will reduce the suffering of your pet.
Does your Pitbull love zoomies? If so, it might be prone to tearing its CCL or Cranial Cruciate Ligament. CCL is the equivalent of ACL to dogs. It acts as a load-bearing ligament that when torn will cause unbearable pain.
Muscular Pitbulls are at a higher risk since their legs carry more weight than typical ones. Pair it with their playful attitude and hunting instincts, Pitties may likely experience this condition.
Take note that CCL tear doesn’t happen in a snap. Most cases are due to the continuous wear and tear of the leg ligament. It can also be a secondary condition due to muscle loss in the hind legs as well as the abnormal bending of the knees. This gradual tearing can be more unbearable for your pet.
Obese dogs are also at high risk of contracting puppy hind leg problems like ligament tears. So even if your Pitbull isn’t very active, its excess weight can press the ligament to the point of breakage.
Studies found that dogs neutered before they turn a year old tend to develop or acquire CCL injuries in their later years. The risk is 5% among neutered males and 8% among neutered females.
So how do you spot a CCL tear on your Pitbull’s hind legs? The number one symptom here is the pain, intense pain. You should know that CCL tears are one of the most common orthopedic problems among dogs. If you observe the following symptoms on your Pitbull, you should contact the vet as soon as possible:
🐕Lameness or total limping of the affected leg
🐕Crackling bone sounds
🐕Extended hind leg while sitting
🐕Whimpering when the affected leg is touched
🐕Thickness and swelling of the affected leg
All of these are the major symptoms of CCL tear. Also, if you heard a pop while playing with your dog followed by lameness and reluctance to resume the game, you should entertain the possibility of a CCL tear.
Remember, CCL tears can be extremely painful for your dog. You should seek treatment for the pooch as soon as the symptoms surface.
Like hip dysplasia, CCL tear can be treated through surgery or other non-invasive methods.
Most of the time, veterinarians will opt for surgical treatments to fix the torn CCL, especially if the tear is massive. Through a surgical operation, the torn ligament will be joined together. However, the recovery phase requires gentle and hands-on care.
As for the non-invasive treatments, the results will vary based on the consistency, age, the extent of the tear, and other factors. Some CCL tears on Pitties may go away after a few weeks if it’s only a minor rupture. The pain can be managed through acupuncture, therapy, canine chiropractic sessions, water therapy and more.
In this video, Dr. Andrew Jones gives some tips on how to treat CCL ruptures without a surgery:
The only problem with non-invasive treatments is it will take a lot of time and commitment on the part of the owner. The success rate is also unsure.
Take note that after the treatment, your Pitbull may likely tear the CCL of the other leg. Since your doggo will put its weight on the unaffected leg, it’s imperative to use a dog knee brace to balance the hip and leg area.
This will take the excess weight and pressure off the uninjured leg which will prevent the possibility of tearing another CCL.
Another possible reason for Pitbull hind leg problems is arthritis. Senior dogs are most likely to develop the condition on their later years while there are cases when younger pooches prematurely experience it.
One out of five dogs can develop osteoarthritis where the cartilage of the joints thins. And when this happens, there would be little or no cushion to shield the bones from each other. The direct rubbing of the bones will produce friction that will cause pain.
This will impact the mobility of your Pitbull. And since the doggo won’t get enough exercise, they stand the chance of becoming obese.
Remember that arthritis doesn’t just develop in the hind legs. It can affect all the joints in your dog’s body including the front legs, shoulders, ankles, and so on. With that, the condition will be very painful.
The problem with arthritis is that it’s difficult to diagnose during its early stages. Mostly, dog owners dismiss the limping as a minor injury due to the playfulness of their Pitbulls.
If your doggo is close to becoming a senior dog and experiencing pain and leg issues, you may want to check for the following symptoms of arthritis.
🐕Struggling to jump out of the car, couch, or climb stairs
🐕Weight gain and changes in appetite
🐕Suddenly hates running and exercise
🐕Grouchiness or even aggression
🐕Accidents inside the house even if properly housebroken
🐕Limping and stiffness of the legs
🐕Doesn’t want to be petted, hugged, or stroked
All these symptoms can be signs of arthritis. Still, some of these may point out to other Pitbull hind leg problems. You should seek the help of a veterinarian to rule out other possible issues.
Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for arthritis. Still, it can be managed to improve the quality of life of your dog.
Before performing any treatments, the vet would conduct an X-ray exam to check the extent of your dog’s arthritis.
The vet would recommend medications to ease the pain levels and reducing the stiffness of the joints. Most of the time, veterinarians prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal, non-inflammatory drugs) like Rimadyl. This will help control the pain and arrest the swelling.
Still, dog owners should take caution in administering these medications. Some NSAIDs can have a negative impact on the kidney and liver of the pooch.
Aside from medications, you can reduce the suffering of your dog by using ramps when they are about to climb an elevated area. Also, it’s important that you manage the dog’s weight to prevent pain from worsening.
Lastly, canine physiotherapy will help as long as it’s recommended by the veterinarian.
Once again, here’s Dr. Andrew Jones with some tips on how to care for an arthritic dog:
Pitbulls are prone to some skeletal problems but it doesn’t mean they won’t be great pets. Like other dogs, they will develop health problems but their love and affection is worth the sacrifice.
Whatever happens, the veterinarian should be your go-to person when your Pittie has physical issues. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, your dog will be spared from intense pain and suffering.
Still, you should remember that vets are no God. They can only help cure and assess Pitbull hind leg problems to a specific extent. It’s still your responsibility as a pet owner to look after the welfare of your doggo.