Rabies, a fatal neurologic disease in animals and people, is caused by a virus. Animals and people are most commonly infected through bites from rabid animals. Infected dogs might have a variety of signs, but most often have a sudden behavioral change and progressive paralysis. Rabies is prevented by vaccination.
If your dog becomes sick or dies soon after purchase or adoption, take your dog to the veterinarian promptly, and inform the pet store, breeder, or rescue organization about the pet’s illness or death. Make sure to tell your veterinarian if the pet was adopted internationally. Thoroughly clean the area occupied by your pet, and consider waiting at least a few weeks before purchasing or adopting another pet.
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.
Umbilical hernia* is a failure of the umbilical ring of the abdominal wall to close. They are very common and can be caused by genetics or by traction on the umbilical cord or by the cord being cut too close to the body. They are corrected by surgery.
About 4.5 million Americans receive dog bites each year, many of which require immediate medical attention. Young children 5 to 9 years old are most likely to bitten by dogs, with boys being bitten more often than girls.
Heat stroke can occur in dogs, especially in flat-faced breeds such as the Bulldog or in giant breeds. Breed, lack of water, exercise, and high ambient temperature predispose dogs to heat stroke. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, difficulty breathing, and body temperature approaching 42 °C to 43 °C. Treatment includes cooling the dogs with wet towels and fans, intravenous fluid therapy, and other supportive care. If a dog’s temperature begin to drop to around 40 °C, stop the cooling process. Once a dog’s body begins to cool, it can drop quickly and getting them too cool can create different problems. Allow the dog only a couple of laps of water until their temperature begins to drop to a more normal level. Do not allow a dog to gulp large quantities of water. If a dog is panting excessively and then drinks a lot of water, he will swallow large amounts of air with the water and this can cause an equally life-threatening case of gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat) in their stomach.
Feeding table scraps to a dog is generally not recommended, at least in excess. Just as in humans, a dog’s diet must consist of the appropriate mix of nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins in order to give them the minerals and vitamins that they need. Dogs get ample correct nutrition from their natural, normal diet; wild and feral dogs can usually get all the nutrients needed from a diet of whole prey and raw meat. In addition, a human diet is not ideal for a dog: the concept of a “balanced” diet for a facultative carnivore like a dog is not the same as in an omnivorous human. Dogs will usually eat all the scraps and treats they are fed: usually too much food. While not all human delicacies are acutely toxic to dogs (see above), many have the same chronically unfortunate results as they do for humans.
Ringworm infections in people can appear on almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the infection involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discolored or thick and may possibly crumble.
Jump up ^ Eigenmann, JE, Eigenmann, RY, Rijnberk, A, van der Gaag, I, Zapf, J, Froesch, ER. (1983). “Progesterone-controlled Growth Hormone Overproduction and Naturally Occurring Canine Diabetes and Acromegaly”. Acta Endocrinologica. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
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.
Jump up ^ Häggström J, Boswood A, O’Grady M, et al. (2008). “Effect of pimobendan or benazepril hydrochloride on survival times in dogs with congestive heart failure caused by naturally occurring myxomatous mitral valve disease: the QUEST study”. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 22 (5): 1124–35. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2008.0150.x. PMID 18638016.
Macadamia nuts can cause non-fatal stiffness, tremors, hyperthermia, and abdominal pain. The exact mechanism is not known. Most dogs recover with supportive care when the source of exposure is removed.
You may not think you need one, but your dog does. “Don’t skimp on a in-depth vet exam every year,” advises Kerns. Since “dogs age on an accelerated schedule compared to us,” she says, serious illness can take hold within a year, so early detection is key. The exam should include a complete blood count, a blood-chemistry panel, a thorough dental check, and a vaccination review to ensure that your dog is up-to-date with rabies and other shots. Tip: Find a vet you can establish an easy relationship with. When you make your appointment, be sure the doc will set aside enough time to patiently answer all your questions.
Jump up ^ Marks, Stanley L. (2003). “Bacterial Gastroenteritis in Dogs & Cats–More Common Than You Think”. Proceedings of the 28th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
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.
Jump up ^ Arnold S (1997). “[Urinary incontinence in castrated bitches. Part 1: Significance, clinical aspects and etiopathogenesis]”. Schweiz. Arch. Tierheilkd. (in German). 139 (6): 271–6. PMID 9411733.
Cocoa within chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical stimulant that, together with caffeine and theophylline, belongs to the group of methylxanthine alkaloids. Dogs are unable to metabolize theobromine effectively. If they eat chocolate, the theobromine can remain in their bloodstreams for days, and dogs may experience fast heart rate, severe diarrhea, epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually death. “One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is a potentially lethal dose in dogs.” In case of accidental intake of chocolate by especially a smaller dog, contact a veterinarian or animal poison control immediately; it is commonly recommended to induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion. If chocolate ingestion is suspected (mostly dark or baking chocolate), hydrogen peroxide can be used to safely induce vomiting, then making a trip to the veterinarian is suggested. Large breeds are less susceptible to chocolate poisoning, but can still die after eating four ounces of chocolate.
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.
Diabetes mellitus in dogs is type 1, or insulin dependent diabetes: a lack of insulin production due to destruction of pancreatic beta cells. Current research indicates no evidence of type 2 diabetes in dogs. Among the causes of diabetes mellitus in dogs are autoimmune disease or severe pancreatitis. Forms of diabetes which may not be permanent, depending on the amount of damage to the beta cells of the endocrine pancreas, are transient and secondary diabetes. Some causes of transient or secondary diabetes are Cushing’s syndrome, glucocorticoid, progestin or other steroid use, and the hormones of pregnancy or heat. In these cases, correcting the primary medical issue may mean a return to non-diabetic status. Common signs include weight loss, increased drinking and urination, and cataracts. Treatment involves insulin replacement therapy, and use of a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Oral diabetes medications cannot be used for dogs because none repair or surmount the permanent damage to the beta cells of the pancreas.
Toxocara roundworms cause a parasitic disease known as toxocariasis. Dogs and people can become infected by accidentally swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. In addition, larval worms can cross through the placenta, milk, or colostrum of a mother dog, passing the infection to her puppies. Infected puppies usually do not develop and grow well and might have a pot-bellied appearance.
Facial nerve paralysis* is most commonly caused in dogs by trauma, otitis media, or as an idiopathic condition. Signs include an inability to blink, drooping of the ear, and drooping of the lips on the affected side, although in chronic conditions fibrosis occurs and the ear and lips may appear to be in an abnormal position.
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.
Orthopedic diseases in dogs can be developmental, hereditary, traumatic, or degenerative. Because of the active nature of dogs, injuries happen frequently. One of the most common of these is an anterior cruciate ligament injury, a condition which often requires surgery. Bone fractures are a frequent occurrence in outdoor dogs due to trauma from being hit by cars. Degenerative joint disease is common in older dogs and is one of the most likely reasons for prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.