Dog treats given excessively can be a cause of obesity. The type of food fed has a direct bearing on the tendency of a dog to become overweight. Table scraps, treats, even premium high-energy dog foods can contribute to obesity. Therefore, it is highly important to closely monitor the quantity of treats that a dog gets especially when the dog’s activity is diminished. Dog treats are more likely to be linked to obesity in old dogs, since in their old age they are less likely to be active and exercising. On the other hand, active dogs require and use more calories, so dog treats are not a cause of concern in younger and highly active dogs.
6. Rabies: Rabies is the disease made famous in the hearbreaking scene in Old Yeller. Thankfully, the widespread use of the rabies vaccine in recent years has made its occurrence in pets in the U.S. quite rare. However, it is still present in wild animal populations, and because rabies is always fatal, it’s critical to make sure that your pets are current on their rabies vaccination.
The source of the disease is unknown, with the Environment Agency ruling out any chemical contamination in water supplies. Experts believe the disease is “very similar” to Alabama Rot, thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. Coli bacteria. However, no evidence of this has been found after no signs were shown on the infected dogs.
What to look for: Since kennel cough is a respiratory infection, it can be easily transmitted from one dog to another when they interact. Look for lethargy, coughing, leaky nose and eyes or loss of appetite as common signs that your dog might have kennel cough.
Ectropion (eyelid folding outward) is a common condition in dogs, usually affecting the lower lid. Breeds associated with ectropion include the Cocker Spaniel, the St. Bernard, the Bloodhound, and the Basset Hound.
This tick-borne illness is another highly preventable disease. It is caused by a bacteria transmitted by slow-feeding deer ticks that have been attached to the dog for at least 18 hours. It’s the most common of the tick-related illnesses.
Sensitivity to anaesthesia can occur in any breed, but sighthounds have been the breeds most documented to have anesthetic concerns. Sighthounds are known to have prolonged recovery times from ultra short-acting thiobarbiturates such as thiopental.
Brain tumors* can be either metastatic or primary in dogs. The incidence of primary tumors is 14.5 per 100,000 dogs at risk. Types include meningioma, astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, and undifferentiated sarcoma.
Dogs in pet stores, animal shelters, and breeding kennels also are at increased risk. Overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions make it easier for the virus to spread. Certain breeds of dog (e.g., English springer spaniels, rottweilers, Doberman pinschers) and dogs that have another health condition may have a higher risk for developing severe disease.
“Some will get secondary infections with bacteria. Some dogs can die but it’s pretty uncommon. That’s more likely in dogs that already have other diseases: respiratory disease, heart disease or other things that make them more likely to get a serious illness,” he said.
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Elbow dysplasia is a condition found more commonly in large breeds. It incorporates several different hereditary conditions of the elbow, including osteochondritis of the medial condyle of the humerus, fragmentation of the medial coronoid process of the ulna, and ununited anconeal process of the ulna.
Genetics and environmental factors also play a role in cancer development. Some credit the uptick in canine cancer rates to dogs simply living longer with better health care options. Other blame dog “junk” food for the rise, with brand-name foods using ingredients thought to cause cancer. Check the labels and avoid BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin.
Between approximately 10 and 30 percent of dogs in the United States receive nutritional supplements. A survey of U.S. pet owners in 2006 found that the most commonly used supplements were multivitamins and chondroprotective agents.
Bacterial diseases in dogs are usually not contagious from dog to dog; instead they are usually the result of wound colonization, opportunistic infections secondary to decreased resistance (often the result of viral infections), or secondary to other conditions (pyoderma secondary to skin allergies or pyometra secondary to cystic endometrial hyperplasia). These examples are not considered infectious diseases because they do not satisfy Koch’s postulates – for example Staphylococcus intermedius, a commonly isolated bacteria from skin infections in dogs, would not cause pyoderma when introduced to a healthy dog. In all likelihood that type of bacteria is already present on the skin of a healthy dog.
Antifreeze (ethylene glycol), due to its sweet taste, poses an extreme danger of poisoning to dogs and cats if ingested. Even a very small amount such as a tablespoon can easily prove fatal. The antifreeze itself is not toxic, but is metabolized via the liver to the toxins glycolate and oxalate, which cause intoxication and vomiting, metabolic acidosis, and finally acute kidney failure leading to seizures and death. By the time clinical signs are observed, the kidneys are usually too damaged for the dog to survive so acting quickly is important. Immediate treatments include inducing vomiting by using apomorphine or dilute hydrogen peroxide solution (if this can be done shortly after ingestion), but these merely reduce the amount absorbed – immediate veterinary treatment is still usually imperative due to the high toxicity of the compound. Medical treatments may include fomepizole (preferred treatment) which competes favorably with the toxin in the body, ethanol which competes favorably in the liver long enough to allow excretion to take place, activated charcoal to further reduce uptake of undigested product, and hemodialysis to remove toxins from the blood. Dogs should not be allowed access to any place in which an antifreeze leak or spill has happened until the spill is completely cleaned out. Some brands of antifreeze contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol and are marketed as being less harmful or less attractive to animals.
Tracheal collapse is characterized by incomplete formation or weakening of the cartilagenous rings of the trachea. It is most common in small and toy breeds. Signs include a cough (often called a “goose honk cough” due to its sound), especially when excited.
Foreign body is an object foreign to the body that becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract (or other part of the dog). Dogs are susceptible to gastrointestinal obstruction due to their ability to swallow relatively large objects and pass them through the esophagus. Foreign bodies most commonly become lodged in the stomach because of the inability to pass through the pyloric sphincter, and in the jejunum.
Weese advises that, if you’re out and see a dog that’s coughing and looks sick, keep your dog away from that animal. If your dog does become sick with a cough or runny nose, keep it away from other pets for at least 2 weeks.
Older, small breeds of dogs are prone to congestive heart failure due to degeneration of the mitral valve. This condition is known to be inherited in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Degenerative valve disease is the most common form of heart disease in dogs. Mitral insufficiency leads to turbulent blood flow and increased pressure in the left atrium. This causes increased pressure in the pulmonary blood vessels and pulmonary edema (a build-up of fluid in the lungs). Decreased output of blood by the left ventricle causes the body to compensate by increasing sympathetic tone and activating the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS). Increased sympathetic tone leads to increased peripheral vascular resistance and increased heart rate and contractility of the heart muscle. Chronic elevation of sympathetic tone damages the heart muscle. Activation of the RAAS results in increased retention of water and sodium by the kidneys, vasoconstriction, and other effects that result in increased blood volume. It also results in an increase in diastolic pressure and leads to pulmonary edema. Treatment for congestive heart failure has historically focussed on two types of drugs that address these concerns: diuretics (especially furosemide), which decrease blood volume, and ACE inhibitors, which interrupt the RAAS. Recently, pimobendan – which increases the force with which the heart muscle contracts, and is also a vasodilator – is being more widely used in the treatment of congestive heart failure caused by valvular disease. A major veterinary study, called the QUEST study (QUality of life and Extension of Survival Time), published in September 2008 found that dogs with congestive heart failure receiving pimobendan plus furosemide had significantly better survival outcomes than those receiving benazepril (an ACE inhibitor) plus furosemide. However, ACE inhibitors and pimobendan have different mechanisms of action, and many veterinary cardiologists recommend they be used concurrently. Within the past decade, a new surgical technique has been developed for mitral valve repair that replaces or strengthens the mitral valve chords with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) prostheses and tightens the mitral valve ring to reduce or eliminate regurgitation.
Granulomatous meningoencephalitis (GME) (including Pug Dog encephalitis and other noninfectious causes of meningoencephalitis) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system of dogs. It is a form of meningoencephalitis. The disease is more common in female toy dogs of young and middle age.
“The concern among vets in the UK is that, unlike the Alabama Rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in the UK does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog,” said Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets.
What to look for: If your dog is vomiting, there could be any number of causes. Generally speaking, it’s best to assess your dog’s behavior leading up to the vomiting to see if there might be a more serious issue. General vomiting, initially, is normal and could have been from something your dog ate.
Dental disease is very common. Calculus is the most obvious sign, but gingivitis progressing to periodontitis is what results in tooth loss. Treatment involves scaling and polishing of the teeth under general anesthesia and treatment of any periodontal disease. Prevention is very important and can be accomplished through the use of special diets or treats, brushing, and plaque prevention gels.
4. Parvovirus: Commonly called “parvo,” this virus is terribly common in parts of the country with low vaccination rates and can be seen in cats and dogs (although the disease cannot be spread cross-species). Parvo is most frequently seen in puppies and kittens who have not yet been vaccinated. The mortality rate depends on how quickly the symptomsare caught by the owner and addressed by a veterinarian and the strength of a pet’s immune system. Most survivors of parvovirus do not harbor long-term effects.
Cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle, is also seen in dogs and is associated with large breeds (the exception being Cocker Spaniels, a medium-sized breed). Dilated cardiomyopathy is seen in Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, Dobermanns, Boxers, and other large breeds. Dobermanns, in addition to heart muscle failure, are prone to ventricular arrhythmias. Boxer dogs are predisposed to a unique cardiomyopathy with clinical and histological changes analogous to human arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The disease has been termed “Boxer cardiomyopathy” or “Boxer ARVC”, and is characterized by development of ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Affected dogs are at risk of syncope and sudden cardiac death. Myocardial failure and congestive heart failure are rare manifestations of this disease.
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.
There are several fungal diseases that are systemic in nature, meaning they are affecting multiple body systems. Blastomycosis, caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis, is a fungal disease that affects both dogs and humans, although it is only rarely zoonotic. It is found mainly in the United States in the Mississippi River and Great Lakes areas. It has also been reported in four Canadian provinces; Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Signs include weight loss, cough, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, draining skin lesions, eye inflammation with discharge, blindness, and lameness. Because dogs are ten times more likely to become infected from the environment than humans, they are considered to be sentinels for the disease. Treatment requires a minimum 60-90 day course of oral antifungal medication or in severe cases intravenous antifungal injections.
They’re commonly known as hot spots, but the medical term for those bare, inflamed, red areas you often see on dogs is acute moist dermatitis — a bacterial skin infection. Anything that irritates your dog’s skin enough to make him scratch or chew can lead to the pain and itch of hot spots, which, if left untreated, can quickly grow larger.
Atrial septal defect* is a hole in the division between the heart atria (upper chambers of the heart). It is an uncommon abnormality in dogs. Most are not clinically significant, but large defects can cause right heart failure and exercise intolerance. Standard Poodles are the most common breed diagnosed with ASD in the USA.