You’re interested in getting an American Bully, but you want to know about American Bully health issues first.
All breeds of dog have a set of health issues that they may fall victim to.
So, to kick off what’s going to look like a long list of health woes, let’s get perspective first. Your American Bully may never suffer from any of these illnesses.
On the whole, well-bred American Bullies are active, healthy pets. Improve your chances of getting a dog that’s free from genetic weaknesses by choosing a breeder who selects dogs from the healthiest bloodlines.
However, even when your American Bully comes from the best stock, you might still encounter an issue. There simply aren’t any guarantees. That’s life. It’s a bit of a lottery.
With that out of the way, let’s get started with our list of American Bully health problems.
1. Hip Dysplasia And American Bullies
Hip dysplasia is one of the greatest fears for owners of animals belonging to big, heavy, dog breeds.
The cartilage that covers the top of the thigh bone or femur breaks down and the hip joint becomes malformed.
If you’ve ever seen a dog, particularly an older one tending to “drag” its hindquarters along with it, you may have seen the consequences of hip dysplasia.
Genetics do play a role, and in the American Bully, the genes in question are most likely from its Bulldog heritage – Bulldogs are notoriously prone to hip dysplasia.
The symptoms might not show up in puppies, but the problem often begins during puppyhood, so you can ask for hip dysplasia screening of any puppy you’re interested in adopting.
A loosely-fitting hip joint means that the cartilage will wear down over time, crippling your dog.
If you let your dog get obese, hip dysplasia is among the health risks your dog incurs. In this instance, it’s all the extra weight that wears away at the joints.
Maintaining your American Bully at a healthy weight may help to prevent a lot of health issues, and hip dysplasia is among them.
Begin weight-watching from the time your American Bully is a puppy. Too many calories in the diet may lead to overly fast growth that increases the chance of hip dysplasia developing.
Always measure out the food carefully, and don’t leave food bowls stocked up between mealtimes. Just leaving food out will tempt your puppy to overeat.
Researchers found that pups eat much more than they need to when food is available at all times.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of treating hip dysplasia without major surgery – and since total hip replacement is both risky and costly, it isn’t usually recommended for older dogs.
There’s also a procedure for younger dogs – ones with weak hips who haven’t yet developed full dysplasia.
We’ll touch on elbow dysplasia here too. It’s a similar condition, but this time, the elbow joint is the problem.
It’s been found that elbow dysplasia is a genetic issue, and, as with hip dysplasia, no ethical breeder will use dogs with these conditions in their breeding programs.
2. Heart Disease And Bullies
The second-commonest health problem among American Bullies is heart disease. Congenital heart disease is an inherited form of heart trouble, and, as with hip dysplasia, puppies can be screened for it.
Most professional breeders will have both hip dysplasia and heart disease screenings for their whole litter of pups. So, not being offered this information could be a red flag.
Don’t confuse congenital heart issues in American Bullies with heart disease that develops later in life.
That can also happen, and once again, large, heavy dogs of all breeds are more prone to heart disease than their smaller cousins are.
Of course, heartworm can affect any dog, and your American Bully should be protected against these horrible parasites at all times.
As with hip dysplasia, you can help to reduce the chances of your dog developing heart problems by ensuring that your dog maintains a healthy weight.
Obesity is a health risk for any breed and the American Bully is no exception.
There is heart surgery for dogs, but it’s extremely expensive and you should consider whether you’re willing to put your dog through all the trauma that goes with it. Sometimes, medication can help to prevent heart failure.
Your veterinarian will know the best treatment approach, and an ethical veterinarian will generally recommend having your dog put down if he or she thinks that is the kindest solution.
This generally happens if congestive heart failure develops. In general, American Bullies can live fulfilling lives for years after heart disease has been diagnosed.
Rely on your veterinarian for advice that fits your American Bully’s situation.
4. Skin Issues
This common skin problem isn’t unique to American Bullies, but they are somewhat prone to it.
Eczema often shows up as dry, itchy, flaking skin, but there’s also a “wet” type of eczema that gives off a discharge.
Most dog owners only notice that their pet has eczema when he starts licking and biting at the affected spots in an effort to relieve the itching.
Dogs often hurt themselves in the process, leaving open wounds that can become infected.
A veterinarian can help you with relatively inexpensive medications to relieve the itch, but solving the problem means identifying the trigger.
Flea bite hypersensitivity is a common cause, so you can start by ensuring that your dog is constantly protected against parasites.
Food allergies can also cause eczema, but fortunately there are hypoallergenic dog foods out there. Switching to one might solve your problem.
Although many people find that a change of diet helps to solve the problem, it can have several other causes.
A host of other possible allergies could be to blame, or your dog might have a type of dermatitis caused by an infection of some kind.
On the subject of American Bullies and skin issues, do remember to check skin folds for signs of trouble.
All dogs with skin folds or “wrinkles” are at least somewhat prone to skin infections from bacteria lurking in the skin folds.
Some American Bully owners recommend wiping the wrinkles every day just to be on the safe side.
Seborrhoea is often very similar to eczema in its appearance. Some people even call it “doggy dandruff.”
Sometimes, seborrhoea is characterized by oily skin instead. In that case, the coat will be dull and greasy and you might pick up an unpleasant smell coming from your dog.
American Bullies aren’t among the breeds that are most prone to seborrhoea, but it can occur.
Taking care of the problem means following the same kind of process you would for eczema since the triggers are very similar.
If your American Bully has skin problems, always let your vet check him over as soon as you notice it. The sooner you begin treatment, the more easily you can get the problem under control.
Your vet will also be better than you at spotting the reason for the skin abnormality, helping you to do the right things sooner than you otherwise might.
If allergies are triggering the dermatitis, your American Bully will do better after receiving an “allergy shot.”
You may also get veterinary antihistamines (never give a dog medicine that was formulated for humans. It could be unsafe) to help you in treating allergic reactions at home.
While you’re at the surgery, you can get a medicated bath product that will help to ease your dog’s discomfort.
Do follow the instructions carefully, though. And if you’re already bathing your dog frequently, consider this as one of the possible causes!
5. Eye Issues In American Bullies
The American Bully is definitely a lot healthier than his ancestor, the Bulldog – but he has picked up a few genetic weaknesses from Bulldogs.
A higher chance of developing certain eye issues is among them. So-called “Cherry Eye” is among these.
As you know, dogs have a “third eyelid” or nictitating membrane. It’s supposed to be held in place by a small structure consisting of fibers.
That structure can fail, and if it does, a gland that’s attached to the third eyelid moves out of position and you will see this as a big, red-coloured obstruction in your dog’s eye.
Despite its frightening appearance, your vet can solve the problem with surgery.
Entropion occurs when a portion of the regular eyelid folds towards the inside. The hair on the eyelid irritates the eye and is very uncomfortable for your dog.
And the injuries it does to the eye could result in corneal ulcers or scarring that will interfere with vision. Once again, surgery is the only real solution, and you should not delay having it done.
“Dry eye” is just what the name says. The tear ducts don’t produce enough fluid, and your dog has uncomfortable, dry, and itchy eyes.
Veterinarians treat this problem by giving your dog medications to stimulate tear production. They’ll also prescribe special drops that are meant to mimic tear fluid.
Although dry eye isn’t very dangerous in itself, the eyes can develop secondary issues because of it, so persevere with the treatment.
Unfortunately, you will probably have to keep treating this problem for as long as your dog lives.
Corneal ulcers result from some kind of injury to the eye and they’re extremely painful. Your Bully will paw at his face and his eye will look inflamed.
Corneal ulcers can be treated, and the sooner you can get him to a vet, the better it will be.
Unfortunately, the shape of your American Bully’s head is the real reason why they’re somewhat more prone to eye injuries that could turn into corneal ulcers.
Obesity is a massive health risk that can contribute to a shockingly long list of health issues. And, we have to be fair, American Bullies are prone to it.
As everybody knows, the solutions to obesity are diet and exercise. Providing the exercise will be up to you!
American bullies can be very lazy indeed, even though they have the capacity to be quite energetic and even surprisingly nimble for their size.
To get your Bully motivated, you probably have to do nothing more than produce the leash or a favorite toy you use in your shared playtimes.
A walk will do you both good, and you can help your American Bully to get a high-intensity workout by playing games like fetch.
Compliance from your dog’s side shouldn’t be a problem. Your Bully likes time spent doing stuff with you more than anything else in the world.
As far as diet goes, your Bully should be able to slim down provided you stick to feeding him the amounts recommended by the manufacturers of his favorite pet food.
If you’ve been keeping food available all the time, just sticking to set mealtimes and the correct amounts of food should help him to lose some weight.
How To Max Out Your American Bully’s Health
We’ve already mentioned the need to choose the breeders of your American Bully pup carefully – and we just chatted about keeping your dog at healthy weight.
As a pet owner, however, there’s a lot you can do to keep your dog healthy for longer.
Most of these things full under the heading of “being a good pet owner,” and you’d probably do them anyway, but here’s a quick list of the basics.
As soon as you get a new dog, head for your veterinarian so he can get a health check. Your dog will need vaccinations and booster shots every year or so, and that will be an opportunity for your vet to give him a quick checkup.
Always ensure that his vaccinations are up to date – they protect your pet from a longish list of extremely unpleasant illnesses.
Parasite prevention will be high on your to-do list along with that. Set reminders so that you never miss a beat.
Apart from being more comfortable, your dog will also stand a better chance of remaining in good health.
Training is absolutely essential. It’s not just a way of making your dog easier for you to live with, although that’s important too.
A well-trained dog is less likely to get into trouble when you’re out and about, but do remember the terrier streak that sometimes makes American Bullies appear to suffer from temporary deafness!
Socializing your dog properly can literally be a lifesaver for him. Dogs that are poorly socialized are much more likely to bite, and it would be a shame if your dog injured kids or other animals.
Of course, when a dog bites too often, the authorities can order you to have it destroyed.
Socializing your American Bully properly so that he remains calm around strangers is super-important, so don’t miss this part of his training.
A good diet that matches your dog’s life-stage is one of the best ways to keep him in the best of good health. Choose high-quality pet food that has all the nutrition he needs.
American Bully Health Issues: They’re Actually Pretty Tough Dogs
It’s time to wind this up. After reading so much about American Bully health issues, your head is probably spinning, so let’s sum it up.
Hip dysplasia and congenital heart disease are the two issues you need to watch out for most and puppies can be screened to check for these issues.
After that, we have allergies, skin issues, and eye issues. We’ve gone into a fair amount of detail on each of these so that you’ll know what to do if anything goes wrong.
The bottom line? American Bullies are, generally speaking, pretty tough dogs. There are definitely breeds with far longer lists of health issues to look out for.
If you’ve been considering getting an American Bully, it’s a good choice. Go ahead and enjoy the experience of being a proud American Bully owner.
With care and a little bit of luck, you’ll have many happy years together. Enjoy them!