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Senior Staffy Health Issues and Common Diseases

Staffy and family

Canterbury, UK - August, 26th 2012: A young couple sit in Dane John Gardens, Canterbury whilst their dog lies on his back basking in the sunshine.

Staffy Health Issues

Staffy Health Issues – Signs You Need to Watch Out For

Staffordshire Bull Terrier often get an unwarranted bad reputation among people who have never owned one. To those that have owned one, however, they are gentle and affectionate dogs who love people and adore being in a family environment. In this respect, they are just like all other breeds of dog, and as with other breeds there are some common Staffy health issues.

Of course, like all other breeds, Staffies come with their own particular proneness to disease and illness as they get older. All too often, we have owners calling us and asking for help: “I think my Staffy has cancer”, “my Staffy’s back legs have gone”, “does our Staffy have arthritis?”, “can my Staffy have heart failure?” “should I put my Staffy down?”.

These are some of the heart-breaking, but all too common, conversations we have with distressed owners. Unfortunately, much of the time, the questions get asked too late when the disease is too far gone.

To help Staffy owners identify serious illnesses or diseases in their dog early, we have compiled this brief guide on 4 of the most common diseases that affect Staffies. This will provide owners with knowledge of what to look out for so that they can give their pets the best chance of successful treatment.

Four of the most serious diseases that Staffies are prone to are arthritis; Cushing’s disease, also known as Hypoadrenocorticism; cancer; and heart disease. With these 4 diseases, it is of the utmost importance that your vet has the chance to help your Staffy as soon as possible.

If you notice any of the signs detailed below, you should contact your local vet immediately.


One of the main issues later in a Staffy’s life is with their bones and joints. This, partly, is due to them being so active; however, it can lead to arthritis setting in as they age. Watch out for these indications of arthritis in your Staffy:

  • Stiffness in the elbows or hips
  • Lameness
  • Difficulty in getting up from lying down

Cushing’s Disease / Hypoadrenocorticism

The disease is caused by too much steroid hormones being produced by malfunctioning adrenal glands. Your Staffy is more likely to get Cushing’s disease than other dogs are. The condition will develop slowly, making it more difficult to detect. You should be aware of the following signs in your Staffy for possible onset of this disease:

  • Drinking more than normal
  • Urinating more than normal
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced activity level
  • Potbelly
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Hair loss


Early detection of cancer is critical in order to have any chance of successfully fighting it.

”Has my Staffy got cancer?” is a common Staffy health issue question that gets asked.

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer because there are so many variants of the disease and they all present in different ways. As your Staffy gets older you should consider getting their blood tested regularly. Also be on the lookout for:

  • lumps
  • Cachexia, which is weight loss as a result of cancer
  • Tiredness
  • Lethargy

Heart Disease

This is the leading cause of death in older Staffies. Watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness
  • Fainting
  • Frequent coughing /gagging
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Reduced endurance during exercise
  • Reduction in appetite
  • Drastic weight loss/gain
  • Swollen abdomen

Staffy Health Issues – Early Identification

As we stated above, early identification and treatment of these diseases is critical. If, however, it gets to the point where the diseases are advanced, you have to make a decision about what is best for your Staffy in terms of its quality of life. You should consider the following areas of your Staffy’s health when assessing this:

  • Affection and engagement
  • Eating and drinking
  • Sleeping
  • Toilet troubles
  • Suffering from pain
  • Movement and getting around
  • Mind and body
  • How you feel about it
  • Any other factors

Difficult Decision

This is a difficult process to go through and we can provide you with some help with our Quality of Life Checklist. This will help you to understand some of the things going on with your dog and what to be aware of as their condition worsens.

Ultimately, you may have to prepare to put your Staffy to sleep. The vast majority of people who have to make this unenviable choice want it to happen in the comfort of their dog’s home.

Cloud 9 Vets specialise in professional and respectful pet euthanasia in your own home. We can help you prepare for this and, when it comes to the time, we can take care of every aspect of your pet’s final care.

If you need some help, assistance or advice on Staffy healthy issues, please give us a call. 08000 354 999