Often times they suffer in silence, unable to tell us if their tummy hurts or what aches. As pet parents, we try to take the best care of our little guys and gals, but it can be hard when they can’t tell us what’s wrong.
Subaortic stenosis, or SAS, is a genetic ailment that causes a narrowing of the passage of blood between the heart and the aorta. This leads to heart problems and sometimes sudden death. It affects larger breeds such as the Newfoundland Dog and the Golden Retriever. In some dogs, such as collies, the blue merle or harlequin coloring is actually the heterozygote of a partially recessive gene preventing proper development of the nervous system; therefore, if two such dogs are mated, on the average one quarter of the puppies will have severe genetic defects in their nervous systems and sensory organs ranging from deafness to fatal flaws.
How to treat: Like humans, dogs should get regular insulin injections (up to twice a day) to control diabetes. Oral medications and a high-fiber diet can also work to reverse the disease and get your dog back to a healthy state.
Pythiosis is a disease cause by a water mould of the genus Pythium, P. insidiosum. It occurs primarily in dogs and horses, but can also affect humans. In dogs it affects the gastrointestinal system and lymph nodes, and rarely the skin.
Congestive heart failure* is the result of any severe, overwhelming heart disease that most commonly results in pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs), and/or ascites (fluid in the abdomen). It can be caused by the above two diseases, congenital heart defects such as patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonary hypertension, heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) disease, or pericardial effusion. Signs depend on which side of the heart is affected. Left-sided heart failure results in rapid and/or difficulty breathing and sometimes coughing from a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Right-sided heart failure results in a large liver (congestion) and build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), uncommonly fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion), or, rarely, peripheral edema.
Alabama rot dog disease is on the rise once again in the UK, but how big a threat is it to your dog? Here is our expert guide explaining what it is, how to spot the signs and what you can do to protect your dog from catching this deadly disease.
Does your dog wolf his food down in a blink of an eye? Then he may be at risk of bloat, which is basically an enlarged stomach; this can become even more complicated if the stomach also turns. This prevents fluid and air from escaping the stomach, which prevents the dog from belching or vomiting.
How to treat: Sadly, arthritis cannot be cured, but there are things you can do to make it easier on your pet as he ages. Diet and nutrition are the two biggest things you can do to slow down the aging (and arthritis) process. Regular walks and a balanced diet of proper (age appropriate) food will keep your dog’s nutrition levels where they should be. Look for food labeled “Senior” and pay attention not to over or under feed. If your dog’s arthritis is severe, your vet can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms.
^ Jump up to: a b Basso C, Fox PR, Meurs KM, et al. (March 2004). “Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy causing sudden cardiac death in boxer dogs: a new animal model of human disease”. Circulation. 109 (9): 1180–5. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000118494.07530.65. PMID 14993138.
Heart valve dysplasia (including mitral and tricuspid valve dysplasia) is a congenital heart abnormality in dogs. Dysplasia of the mitral and tricuspid valves – also known as the atrioventricular (AV) valves – can appear as thickened, shortened, or notched valves. Chordae tendineae are also usually abnormal.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog shows any of the clinical signs mentioned on the list above. Should your dog receive a diagnosis of cancer, you may wish to consult a veterinary oncologist, often employed by specialty veterinary practices and teaching hospitals.
How to treat: Again, assess the behavior leading up to the vomiting. If there was nothing unusual, then there’s probably no need to be concerned. If the vomiting is persistent, however, or you noticed your dog acting differently before the vomiting, there could be a number of things wrong and it’s best to take your dog to your vet to get him checked out.
Acromegaly (also known as hypersomatotropism) is a hormonal condition resulting from over-secretion of the growth hormone somatotropin from the pituitary gland. The hormone is responsible for growth from birth to adulthood. Normally in adulthood, the growth plates of the bones close and the secretion of the hormone slows considerably. Because the bone plates close when entering maturity, the continued growth of acromegaly is not of normal proportions. Most dogs with the disease are unspayed females, but the condition can come about with use of medications containing progesterone. Acromegaly patients often also have diabetes mellitus. There is a transient form of acromegaly which can affect females at the diestrus portion of the reproductive cycle. This condition is brought about by the mammary glands excreting excess growth hormone, which is triggered by progesterone from the ovaries. As with non-transient acromegaly, spaying is necessary. The symptoms can include overgrowth or enlargement of gums with wide spaces between teeth, increased drinking, increased urination, thickening of the skin and skin folds, enlargement of the tongue and excessive panting. Acromegaly is also possible from a somatotroph adenoma. The hormone somatostatin can also be useful in treatment. Since hypothyroidism is connected with the release of excess growth hormone, hypothyroidism can be mistaken for acromegaly.
Humans can also spread the virus by touching a dog or item contaminated with the virus and then transferring that to other dogs, says Weese, which is why it’s so important for dog owners to wash their hands after contact with a sick animal.
Overdoses of vitamins can be harmful in dogs. As an example, calcium in excess can cause bone problems, especially in the large-breed dogs. Over-supplementation of vitamins A and D can cause vitamin toxicity in dogs. Excess vitamin A can cause dehydration, joint pain and can also harm the blood vessels, while too much vitamin D can cause muscular atrophy, or loss of appetite.
Cataracts* are an opacity in the lens of the eye. Most cataracts in dogs are caused by a genetic predisposition, but diabetes mellitus is also a common cause. The only effective treatment is surgical removal.
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.
“We would also encourage all vets and owners to work with David and his team at Anderson Moores so we can have a clear picture of confirmed cases in the UK, to help prevent more dogs falling victim to this terrible disease.”
Ocular melanosis (OM) is a disease of the eye which in dogs is almost found exclusively in the Cairn Terrier. The disease is caused by an increase of melanocytes in the iris, sclera, and surrounding structures.
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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).
10. Kidney disease: Kidney disease is common in senior cats, but also seen in cats and dogs of all ages. It can be congenital or develop as the pet ages. While cats with kidney disease can be treated and kept healthy for several years in most cases, dogs typically deteriorate more quickly. Kidney health is typically evaluated with annual bloodwork at your veterinarian.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of heart muscle resulting in decreased myocardial contractility. The left ventricle compensates for this disease by growing larger (eccentric or volume overload hypertrophy; AKA dilation). The left atrial is also dilated when the disease is severe. It is seen in large/giant dog breeds such as Boxers, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers. It is usually idiopathic, but can also be caused by taurine deficiency in American Cocker Spaniels or doxorubicin use. A mutation in the gene that encodes for pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 is associated with DCM in Doberman Pinschers in the USA. Dilated cardiomyopathy usually ultimately results in congestive heart failure. Atrial fibrillation is common in giant breed dogs with DCM. Doberman Pinschers more commonly have ventricular arrhythmias (e.g., premature ventricular complexes; ventricular tachycardia) that predispose them to sudden death (i.e., ventricular fibrillation).
Rabies (hydrophobia) is a fatal viral disease that can affect any mammal, although the close relationship of dogs with humans makes canine rabies a zoonotic concern. Vaccination of dogs for rabies is commonly required by law. Please see the article dog health for information on this disease in dogs.
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.
Hereditary orthopedic diseases are mainly found in purebred dogs. Hip dysplasia is a common problem that primarily affects larger breeds. Hip dysplasia is a defect in the shape of the hip joint which can, depending on the degree of hip luxation, be quite painful to the dog as it ages. Over time it often causes arthritis in the hips. Dysplasia can also occur in the elbow joint. Luxating patellas can be a problem for smaller breeds. It can cause lameness and pain in the hind legs.
Renal failure (kidney failure) * is common in dogs and may be found in acute or chronic forms. It is defined by a loss of function of about 75 percent of the filtration system of the kidney and characterized by azotemia and low specific gravity of the urine. Acute renal failure can be caused by loss of blood supply, hypercalcemia, or toxins such as ethylene glycol (antifreeze) or aminoglycoside antibiotics (see: ethylene glycol poisoning). Chronic renal failure can be congenital and/or inherited or caused by cancer, infection, hypertension, glomerulonephritis, amyloidosis, progressive interstitial fibrosis, or any of the causes of acute renal failure.
Masticatory muscle myositis (MMM) is an inflammatory disease in dogs affecting the muscles of the jaw. Signs include swelling of the jaw muscles and pain on opening the mouth. In chronic MMM there is atrophy of the jaw muscles, and scarring of the masticatory muscles due to fibrosis may result in inability to open the mouth (trismus).
Jump up ^ Uechi, Masami; Mizukoshi, Takahiro; Mizuno, Takeshi; Mizuno, Masashi; Harada, Kayoko; Ebisawa, Takashi; Takeuchi, Junichirou; Sawada, Tamotsu; Uchida, Shuhei (2012-05-04). “Mitral valve repair under cardiopulmonary bypass in small-breed dogs: 48 cases (2006–2009)”. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 240 (10): 1194–1201. doi:10.2460/javma.240.10.1194.
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.
Jump up ^ Ruchinsky, Renee; et al. (2010). “Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats-page 7” (PDF). American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2011.(PDF)
Gastric dilatation volvulus, or gastric torsion and bloat, primarily affects breeds with deep, narrow chests, such as Great Danes, St. Bernards, German Shepherds, Standard Poodles and Irish Setters. The stomach twists on its supporting ligaments, sealing off the exits, and the contents begin to generate gas pressure which is very painful and rapidly causes shock and necrosis of large areas of stomach tissue. It can be fatal within a few hours. Dogs who have experienced bloat are very susceptible to recurrences. Treatment involves stabilization and abdominal surgery to tack the dog’s stomach down to prevent recurrence (gastropexy).
von Willebrand disease* is a common inherited disease in dogs caused by a deficiency of a protein called von Willebrand factor, which is involved in blood clotting. The disease varies from mild to severe, depending on the amount of von Willebrand factor present in the dog. Signs include spontaneous bleeding and excessive bleeding following surgery, injury, or during an estrous cycle.
Polyneuropathy is a collection of peripheral nerve disorders that often are breed-related in dogs. Polyneuropathy indicates that multiple nerves are involved, unlike mononeuropathy. Polyneuropathy usually involves motor nerve dysfunction, also known as lower motor neuron disease.
Demodicosis, also known as demodectic mange, is caused by Demodex canis mites which live in small numbers in sebaceous glands and hair follicles. These mites can cause inflammation and hair loss, and may also lead to secondary bacterial infections such as fever, lethargy, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Sudden acquired retinal degeneration (SARD) is a disease in dogs causing sudden blindness. It can occur in any breed. The cause is unknown, but possibly involves either autoimmune disease, a toxin, or Cushing’s disease. Symptoms include sudden permanent blindness, dilated pupils, and loss of the pupillary light reflex.
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.
Patent ductus arteriosus* is one of the most common congenital heart defect in dogs around the world. It is inherited in toy and miniature Poodles, and seen commonly in German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Bichon Frises, and Malteses. Signs include a continuous heart murmur, bounding (strong) femoral pulse, tachypnea (increased breathing rate), dyspnea (labored breathing), and exercise intolerance.
Jump up ^ Heuter, Kerry J.; Langston, Cathy E. (2003). “Leptospirosis: A re-emerging zoonotic disease”. Vet. Clin. N. Am. Small Animal Pract. 33 (4): 791–807. doi:10.1016/S0195-5616(03)00026-3. PMID 12910744.
Keeping your dog away from tick-prone areas and checking your dog for ticks are always good ideas, but preventative tick medicines are the most effective way to prevent Lyme disease, and other tick-borne illnesses.
Jump up ^ Cohen, Michelle, Post, Gerald S. (2002). “Water Transport in the Kidney and Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus”. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 16 (5): 510–7. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2002.tb02379.x. PMID 12322698. (PDF)
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.
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.
Every year when you bring your pet in for a check-up, your veterinarian likely talks to you about vaccines and gives Fluffy or Fido a good look over. They may draw blood, or recommend preventative care routines, like a dental cleaning or grooming. But what are some of the most common serious ailments for cats and dogs that your veterinarian wants to help you prevent and control?