There are four key health issues you should be aware of when buying Bull Terriers, Kidneys, Heart, Hearing (BAER), Luxating Patella & Skin problem.
This is done by a urine sample being tested (not a blood test) and a protein/creatinine ratio level being given, in all breeds anything under 1 is classified as normal but not for a Bull Terrier. A Bull Terrier needs to have a ratio of under 0.1 anything above that is not good and can indicate possible future Kidney disease.
What is a luxating patella?
The patella, or knee cap, should be located in the center of the knee joint. The term "luxating" means out of place or dislocated. Therefore, a luxating patella is a knee cap that moves out of its normal location.
What causes this to occur?
The muscles of the thigh attach directly or indirectly to the top of the knee cap. There is a ligament, called the patellar ligament, which runs from the bottom of the knee cap to a point on the tibia (shin bone) just below the knee joint. When the thigh muscles contract, the force is transmitted through the patella and through the patellar ligament and results in extension (straightening) of the knee joint. The patella stays in the center of the leg because the point of attachment of the patellar ligament is on the midline and because the patella slides in a groove on the lower end of the femur (the thigh bone). The patella luxates because the point of attachment of the patellar ligament is not on the midline of the tibia. It is almost always located too far medial (toward the middle of the body). As the thigh muscles contract, the force is pulled against the groove on the inner side of the femur. After several months or years of this abnormal movement, the inner side of the groove wears down and the patella is free to move out of the groove or dislocate. When this occurs, the dog has difficulty bearing weight on the leg. It may learn how to kick the leg and snap the patella back into its normal location. However, because the side of the groove is gone, it dislocates again easily. The degree of patella luxation is graded from I to IV depending on the relative ease with which the patella luxates. Medially Luxating Patellas, the patella dislocates to the inside of the knee. Laterally Luxating Patellas dislocate to the out side of the knee, in some cases the patella can luxate both medially and laterally. Luxated patellas are a congenital (present at birth) condition. The actual luxation may not be present at birth, but the structural changes that lead to luxation are present. Most research suggests that patella Luxation is an inherited problem, though the exact mode of inheritance is not known. It is advisable not to breed from dogs that have the deformity. Signs include intermittent rear leg lameness, often shifting from one leg to the other, and an inability to fully extend the stifle. The leg may be carried for variable periods of time. Early in the course of the disease, or in mildly affected animals, a hopping or skipping action occurs. This is due to the patella luxating while the dog is moving and by giving an extra hop or skip the dog extends its stifle and is often able to replace the patella until the next luxation, when the cycle repeats.
Does a luxating patella cause any long-term problems for my dog?
Some dogs can tolerate this problem for many years, some for all of their lives. Since the joint surfaces are very slick and bathed in a slippery joint fluid, there is usually little or no discomfort early in the process. However, this abnormality predisposes the knee to other injuries, especially torn cruciate ligaments. Also, with advancing age, the joint may become arthritic and painful. The bones may actually curve in response to the abnormal location of the kneecap.
Can a luxating patella be corrected?
Surgery should be performed if your dog has a persistent lameness or if other knee injuries occur secondary to the luxation. Treatment involves surgical correction of the deformity. The methods used for surgical repair depend on how far the process has gone before intervention. Surgical repair may include any or all of the following:
1) The point of attachment of the patellar ligament is cut from the tibia and transplanted to its proper location to correct the in correct alignment.
2) The groove in the femur is deepened so the patella will stay in place.
3) The capsule around the joint is tightened. This last step is important because the joint capsule will have stretched during the period of luxation. If the surgery is performed before arthritis occurs, the prognosis is excellent. Your dog should regain full use of its leg. However, if arthritis has already occurred, the joint will still be somewhat painful, especially in cold weather. Once the surgery has repaired, most affected individuals make a satisfactory recovery although some do still suffer from arthritis.
A heart murmur indicates abnormal blood flow within the heart, which is usually due to a change in the function of the heart valves, but also may be caused by abnormal communications between the right and left sides of the heart. These problems may be congenital or acquired (i.e., associated with diseases or age changes affecting the heart after birth). Murmurs may be benign (i.e., of no concern to your pet’s health) or they may be more serious and progressive, resulting in heart failure over time. Heart murmur test !! MUST only be done by a cardiologist,(A vet letter is not acceptable)if a murmur is detected the animal should not be used for Stud/Breeding). Two heart tested parents can still produce affected pups but it significantly reduces the chances! A puppy that is checked at the puppy vet check is not cleared of a heart murmur and isn’t heart tested as some owner think, the mitral valve problem usually doesn't begin to show outward signs until the puppy is 6 months or over, it's almost like they grow out of their heart valves.
THE BULL TERRIER HEART
There are several different heart defects in Bull Terriers, one being mitral dysplasia. This is a congenital defect(present at birth) as a result of genetical problems.
WHAT IS IT?
Mitral dysplasia is caused by faulty heart valves.When the valves do not work as they should some of the blood goes into the atrium when the ventricle contracts instead of leaving the heart, leaving the body with less blood.The heart tries to compensate by working harder and increasing the function. As this happens the valves get worse and the body gets less blood.As a result the heart can get enlarged from being overworked.The end result being the animal dies.This condition (commonly picked up as a heart murmur) can very from mild to severe.You may never notice if your dog has a mild case, however should these dogs be bred from their offspring have a good chance of being effected and are often more severely effected.
Signs and symptoms of heart disease often include one or all of the following symptoms: coughing, labored breathing, poor exercise ability, fainting, and a bluish tinge to the tongue or gums.
DETECTION AND PREVENTION
Breeding animals should be tested by a vet with a certificate in cardiology and can be detected on auscultation (listening to the sounds made by the heart using a special stethoscope) or performing a Doppler ultrasound scan if the results are unclear.The results are given either as clear or a murmur graded from 1 - 6, six being the most severe.The heart test result is given as the Grade of any heart murmur detected by the cardiologist. Murmurs are graded as 1 to 6 out of 6. Very quiet murmurs are graded 1/6 and the loudest murmur is a 6/6. An experienced cardiologist may be able to make an educated guess based on the characteristics of the heart murmur and the point of maximal intensity on the chest wall, but echo-Doppler is required to confirm the reason for the murmur.
Heart murmurs may be due to: 1. Narrowed valves (offering increased resistance to flow, so flow velocity (speed) has to increase to get through the obstruction. Think of a narrow part of a river compared to a wider part. The flow is fast and turbulent in the narrow part. This results in a heart murmur). Examples are aortic or sub-aortic stenosis or pulmonic stenosis. 2. Leaky valves. As a leak of blood jets through the incompetent valve, it results in a murmur, since the abnormal flow (regurgitation) is fast and turbulent. Most murmurs associated with leaky valves are due to mitral or tricuspid regurgitation. 3. Abnormal shunts. If there is a defect in the heart, such as a ventricular septal defect (VSD; a hole between the left and right ventricles) or a Patent Ductus Arteriousus (PDA), blood passes through these areas resulting in a heart murmur.