Pica is an appetite for, or the behavior of eating, non-nutritive substances (e.g., sand, coal, soil, chalk, paper etc.). Pica can be dangerous to dogs, with a risk from eating dirt near roads that existed prior to the phaseout of tetraethyllead in gasoline or prior to the cessation of the use of contaminated oil (either used, or containing toxic PCBs) to settle dust. In addition to poisoning, there is a risk of gastro-intestinal obstruction or tearing in the stomach or blockage of the esophagus.
Cushing’s syndrome, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is characterized by an increase in glucocorticoids secreted by the adrenal glands. About 85 percent of cases are caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland, while 15 percent are caused by an adrenal tumor. The pituitary gland produces a hormone that signals the adrenal gland to produce cortisol; a tumor can cause it to produce the adrenal-stimulating hormone even when it is not needed. Signs include increased appetite, increased drinking and urination, a pot-bellied appearance, muscle weakness, and lethargy. Cushing’s can be caused by overuse of steroid medications; in some cases, stopping the medication is enough to solve the problem. Diagnosis can be difficult as there are no tests with both high sensitivity and specificity. Treatments inclulde mitotane, trilostane, ketoconazole, or selegiline. Surgery is used in some cases of adrenal tumors.
Part of your job as a dog owner will be protecting your family from the parasites that can plague dogs and make their lives (and yours) miserable. Fortunately, that’s much easier done these days than it once was.
Atopy* is an allergy to a substance with which the dog is not necessarily in direct contact. It is a type I hypersensitivity to a substance that is inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Up to 10 percent of dogs are affected. It is common in dogs, especially seen in breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Shih Tzus. The most common symptom is itching. Affected areas include the underside, the face, the feet, and the ears.
Pancreatitis*, or inflammation of the pancreas, is common in dogs. It is most commonly seen in middle-aged and older overweight dogs. Miniature Schnauzers are predisposed. Contributing factors include diabetes, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and dietary indiscretion. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and anorexia.
We also need to be aware of the regular check-ups and standard treatments that can apply to all dogs, such as vaccinations, desexing, dental care, worming as well as treating fleas and ticks. Other common health issues that you might come across include allergies, arthritis, diabetes, ear infections and obesity. Getting to know the basics of your dog’s health and wellbeing will go a long way to ensuring they live a long and happy life with you by their side.
If a lump is present, the first step is typically a needle biopsy, which removes a very small tissue sample for microscopic examination of cells. Alternately, surgery may be performed to remove all or part of the lump for diagnosis by a pathologist.
Genetic conditions are a problem in some dogs, particularly purebreeds. For this reason many of the national kennel clubs require that dogs with certain genetic illnesses or who are deemed to be carriers cannot be registered. Some of the most common conditions include hip dysplasia, seen in large breed dogs, von Willebrand disease, a disease that affects platelets that is inherited in Doberman Pinschers, entropion, a curling in of the eyelid seen in Shar Peis and many other breeds, progressive retinal atrophy, inherited in many breeds, deafness, and epilepsy, known to be inherited in Belgian Shepherd Dogs, German Shepherd Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, and St. Bernards.
Chocolate poisoning symptoms can last up to 72 hours. PetMD offers this chocolate toxicity meter to gauge your dog’s level of poisoning, but it’s still best to see a vet right away. For a true life story, read our post, My Dog Ate Chocolate. Here’s What Happened Next.
Cauda equina syndrome*, also known as degenerative lumbosacral stenosis, in dogs is a compression of the cauda equina by a narrowing of the lumbosacral vertebral canal. It is most commonly seen in German Shepherd Dogs. Signs include pain, weakness, and rear limb muscle atrophy.
Liver failure* is common. Signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, and jaundice. Causes include bacterial or viral infection, toxic insult, cancer, copper storage diseases, or it may be idiopathic.
Jump up ^ Washabau, Robert J. (2005). “Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders of Dogs and Cats”. Proceedings of the 30th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
What to look for: The signs of obesity might seem obvious, but having regular weight checks is important in order to keep records of your dog’s weight over time. It is important to recognize your dog’s weight gain early to give him the best chance possible for recourse.
Canine glaucoma is an increase of pressure within the eye. It is a common condition in dogs. It can be caused by abnormal development of the drainage angle of the eye, lens luxation, uveitis, or cancer. Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and Basset Hounds are predisposed.
People become infected with dog hookworms while walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool of infected animals. Hookworm larvae enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction called cutaneous larva migrans. A red squiggly line might appear where the larvae have migrated under the skin. Symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment in 4-6 weeks.
Prostate disease* in dogs includes benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis (infection of the prostate), cancer, and cysts and abscesses. BPH is the most common and is found in older intact (not neutered) dogs. Signs include blood in the urine and straining to urinate and defecate. Castration is the treatment of choice. Prostatis can be associated with BPH. Bacteria causing prostatitis include E. coli, Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., and Mycoplasma spp.
Symptoms are basic: abdominal heaving and drooling caused by nausea. If your dog also has diarrhea, blood in the vomit, seems lethargic, continues vomiting, or can’t hold down liquids, contact your vet right away to prevent life-threatening dehydration.
I got my dog (1-1/12 yr old/F/German Sheppard/Australian Cattle dog mix) one yr ago. She was unwanted and came to a good home. She is up to date on all vaccines and has been in good health. She is super energetic and playful 99% of the time, however, bout every 3-4 months she goes through some phase of lethargy/no eating and pain. She can barely drag herself onto the couch and limos around. When you put pressure on her ribs she yelps. She is like this for about 2 weeks then ia back to normal. Asked the Banfield vets about it, they did expensive tests for cancer and valley fever but don’t know what’s wrong with her. Has anyone else experienced this?
Jump up ^ Raghavan M, Knapp DW, Dawson MH, Bonney PL, Glickman LT (2004). “Topical flea and tick pesticides and the risk of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers”. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 225 (3): 389–94. doi:10.2460/javma.2004.225.389. PMID 15328714.
If your dog will be housed outside, provide shelter such as a doghouse for when it is cold or rainy and shade for when it is hot. Protecting your dog from the changes in weather will reduce stress and help keep it healthy.
Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is a congenital, inherited, bilateral eye disease of dogs involving the retina, choroid, and sclera. It can be a mild disease or cause blindness. It is known to occur in Smooth and Rough Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.
Infected people will typically have a red “bull’s eye” rash at the site of the tick bite that appears about 7 days after being bitten. Flu-like symptoms quickly follow the rash. If not treated, this disease can spread to other parts of the body and cause symptoms such as arthritis and loss of facial muscle tone (Bell’s palsy). Lyme disease can be fatal.
Horner’s syndrome* results from damage to the sympathetic innervation of the eye. Signs include enophthalmos (sunken eye), miosis (small pupil), elevated third eyelid, and ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid). Usually the syndrome in dogs is idiopathic, but it can also be caused by trauma, tumors, or ear infections.
Although germs from dogs rarely spread to people, they might cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from minor skin infections to serious disease. To protect yourself and your family from getting sick:
Hemolytic anemia* is a type of regenerative anemia found in dogs characterized by destruction of the red blood cell. The most important type is immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, which can be a primary disease or secondary to cancer, infection, drugs, or vaccinations. Antibodies are present on the cell surface, leading to lysis and severe anemia. Other causes of hemolytic lesion include hypophosphatemia, exposure to toxins such as lead, infections such as ehrlichiosis or babesiosis, and rarely, neonatal isoerythrolysis. The behavioral condition pica, especially when involving the eating of concrete dust, tile grout, or sand, may be a sign of hemolytic anemia, indicating the need for a complete blood count to investigate a possible diagnosis.
Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, dogs can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).
Ear infections are common in dogs, particularly breeds with hanging ears, such as Beagles, and dogs with narrow ear canals, such as Cocker Spaniels. Other predisposing factors include allergies, ear parasites, and hypothyroidism.
Jump up ^ Modiano J, Breen M, Burnett R, Parker H, Inusah S, Thomas R, Avery P, Lindblad-Toh K, Ostrander E, Cutter G, Avery A (2005). “Distinct B-cell and T-cell lymphoproliferative disease prevalence among dog breeds indicates heritable risk”. Cancer Res. 65 (13): 5654–61. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-4613. PMID 15994938.
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Because of the overpopulation of dogs in some countries, puppies born to strays or as the result of accidental breedings often end up being killed in animal shelters. Spaying and neutering can also decrease the risk of hormone-driven diseases such as mammary cancer, as well as undesired hormone-driven behaviors. However, certain medical problems are more likely after neutering, such as urinary incontinence in females and prostate cancer in males. The hormonal changes involved with sterilization are likely to somewhat change the animal’s personality, however, and some object to spaying and neutering as the sterilization could be carried out without the excision of organs.
Newborn puppies receive antibodies from their mothers that help provide immunity, but immunity to CPV wears off before the puppies’ immune systems are developed enough to destroy the virus and fight off infection.
Fleas and ticks of various species can be acquired and brought home by a dog, where they can multiply and attack humans (and vice versa). These two parasites are particularly important to note, now that tick-borne Lyme Disease has become endemic throughout a large area, in addition to other similar diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although dogs do not seem to be as susceptible to such diseases as humans, similar rickettsial diseases have been spread by dogs to humans through such mechanisms as a dog killing an infected rabbit, then shaking itself off in the house near enough to its owners to fatally infect most of the family.