SICK DOG: IS MY DOG SICK?
Your dog is your best friend. He wakes you up in the morning with kisses, waits all day at home for you to return and then greets you with more kisses. Never will he nag you about bad habits, or not showing up when you are supposed to. However, as a dog parent, he relies on you to keep him safe and healthy.
Awareness of the signs of the most common diseases is one way to help reduce your pet’s risk of being affected by them. Unfortunately, at least 10% of pets that appear healthy have underlying diseases. No two dogs are the same, and your dog’s habits are peculiar to him. So, watch for changes in their behaviors.
CHANGES IN NORMAL BEHAVIORS:
Some common symptoms that your dog is sick are bad breath or drooling. He may need some teeth extracted. In order to prevent many dental problems, train your dog so that he allows you to brush his teeth.
Also, listen for excessive coughing or honking. Coughing, sneezing, excessive panting, or labored breathing can be an indicator that your dog is not well.
Likewise, excessive drinking or urination, appetite change associated with weight loss or weight gain could be cause for concern. If your dog is having trouble standing, is swaying, or has collapsed then you must seek care quickly. Even if your dog is tired, it will be able to stand and move.
MY DOG EATS GRASS:
No one really know why dogs eat grass. But, the 3 top theories are:
Some people believe that dogs eat grass because it is a natural instinct. The fact of the matter is that dogs are not naturally carnivores. Rather, they are omnivores of a certain type. Before dogs became so domesticated they fed naturally on anything that they could scavenge. And, as a result, they received the majority of their dietary needs from single prey items.
Other people believe that dogs eat grass as a means of improving their own digestion. Just how can grass improve a dog’s digestion? Grass provides “roughage” or fiber that may otherwise be missing from a dog’s diet. In these cases dogs eat grass to supplement fiber that is missing from their regular diet.
One of the more common theories behind dogs that eat grass is that they do it as a means to vomit. However, researchers find that dogs that eat grass slowly rarely vomit afterwards. And, dogs that eat grass more rapidly almost always vomit.
SHOULD YOU STOP YOUR DOG FROM EATING GRASS?
While dogs generally do not experience negative effects from grass eating, this behavior can be dangerous. Especially for dogs living in areas frequently treated with pesticides.
Additionally, in cases where grass eating is simply the result of a dog’s natural instinct, or because a dog likes the taste of grass, owners may try to train their dog to stop their behavior. If there are underlying reasons why your dog eats grass, a Vet could offer solutions such as changing the dogs diet.
SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF THESE DISEASES:
Dogs can contract Lyme Disease ( disease caused by a bacterium called “Borrelia burgdorferi“) when they are bitten by an infected tick. Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. Sometimes the lameness lasts for only three to four days. However, it can reoccur days to weeks later. It can occur in the same leg or in other legs. This is known as “shifting-leg lameness.” One or more joints may be swollen, warm and painful.
Lyme disease sometimes leads to kidney failure. Sometimes, the dog can exhibit signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease:
Other symptoms associated with Lyme disease in dogs include:
Stiff walk with an arched back.
Sensitivity to touch.
Fever, lack of appetite, and depression.
Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen.
Heart abnormalities are reported, but rare.
Nervous system complications (rare).
Treatment of Lyme Disease:
Dogs infected with Lyme disease are treated with tetracycline or penicillin-based antibiotics. Most dogs recover in about two weeks. But, in some cases antibiotics must be administered for thirty days or longer. Some dogs experience a recurrence of Lyme disease symptoms within a few weeks or months of finishing treatment.
These dogs will need to undergo the treatment program again. The earlier Lyme disease is treated, the better the prognosis. So, see a vet quickly if you notice this symptom, especially in younger dogs.
Lyme Disease Prevention:
Controlling ticks is extremely important for the prevention of Lyme disease. Check your dog daily for ticks and remove ththese pests as soon as possible. You may be able to save your dog since ticks must feed for 12 to 48 hours before transmitting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Keep grass and brush trimmed in your yard. And, consider treating your yard for ticks.
Vaccination against Lyme disease is a controversial topic. And, it should be discussed in-depth with your veterinarian. Many specialists do not recommend routine vaccination. When Lyme disease does occur in dogs, it is usually readily treated.
Where vaccines are used, it is usually recommended to start vaccinating puppies at 12 weeks. And, follow up with a booster two to four weeks later. The vaccine does not provide long-lasting immunity. So you must give annual re-vaccination, ideally before tick season.
The heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that affects animals as well as humans. Dogs are most vulnerable to heartworm infection. Heartworms look like a thin, filamentous, translucent thread.
These heartworms generally tends to reside in the right side of the heart, the lungs, and the pulmonary arteries. And, they enter the body of dogs through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
Once the larvae are inside the body, they tunnel through veins to reach the heart. The life cycle of heartworms is six to seven months in a dog. And, the emergence of adult worms takes about three to four months. These worms can grow up to twelve inches. And, it can survive for about five years in a dog’s heart.
Symptoms of Heartworm Infection:
Some of the symptoms of heartworms infection in dogs are listed below:
Instances of fainting after exercise.
The sputum as well as fecal material may contain blood.
Easy tiredness and fatigue.
Breathing problems such as shortness of breath.
Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss.
Blood disorders such as anemia.
Nervousness and listlessness.
The coat condition tends to deteriorate and become poor.
Prevention of Heartworms:
A prevention program is absolutely essential as soon as dogs reach the age of six months or more. Some preventive measures include a daily dosage of DEC or diethylcarbamazine tablets. Others include a monthly dose of Ivermectin. Pet owners who live in areas with mosquito infestation must take extra precaution to protect their dogs from heartworms.
This is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue. Often cancers can spread to other areas of the body. As with people, dogs can get various kinds of cancer. There are many factors that could cause cancer.
The National Canine Cancer Foundation says that cancer can be attributed to factors such as excessive exposure to carcinogenic (cancer causing) agents. These include chemicals found in commercial dog food, and medicines.
The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).
Symptoms of Cancer:
Lumps (which are not always malignant, but should always be examined by a vet).
Abnormal discharge from any part of the body.
Rapid, often unexplained weight loss.
Black, tarry stools (a symptom of ulcers, which can be caused by mast cell tumors).
Decreased or loss of appetite.
Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecatin.
Having your dog neutered or spayed at a young age can dramatically reduce their chance of getting certain types of cancer.
Breast cancer can be avoided almost completely by having your dog spayed before her first heat cycle, while a neutered male dog has zero chance of developing testicular cancer.
Treatments of cancer:
Treatment options vary and depend on the type and stage of cancer.
Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy or a combination of therapies. Success of treatment depends on the type and extent of the cancer and the aggressiveness of the therapy. Of course, early detection is best.
Some dog owners opt for no treatment of the cancer, in which case palliative end of life care, including pain relief, should be considered.
Some cancers can be cured, while others cannot. Please note that if your dog’s cancer is not curable, there are still many things you can do to make your pet feel better. Don’t hesitate to talk to your vet about your options. And remember good nutrition and loving care can greatly enhance your dog’s quality of life.
When dogs suffer with diabetes there is a malfunction of their pancreas (the organ that produces insulin). Diabetes in dogs is caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. When a dog does not produce insulin, or cannot use it normally, his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia. This can cause many complicated health problems for a dog.
THERE ARE 2 TYPES OF DIABETES:
Type I (lack of insulin production)
Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone).
The following are signs that your dog may be diabetic:
Change in appetite.
Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption.
Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath.
Urinary tract infections.
Cataract formation, blindness.
Chronic skin infections.
The type of diabetes found in dogs less than a year old is inherited. However, proper diet and regular exercise can help avoid the development of this disease. Obesity is also known to contribute to insulin resistance.
Every diabetic dog is an individual and will respond differently to therapy. Diabetes treatment is based on how severe the signs of disease are. Also, whether there are any other health issues that could complicate therapy.
Some dogs are seriously ill when first diagnosed and require intensive hospitalized care to regulate their blood sugar levels.
Dogs who are more stable when first diagnosed may respond to oral medication. A high-fiber diet can help to normalize glucose levels in the blood.
For most dogs, insulin injections are necessary for adequate regulation of blood glucose. Once your pet’s individual insulin treatment is established, typically based on weight, you will be shown how to give him his insulin injections at home.
Spaying your dog is recommended, as female sex hormones can have an effect on blood sugar levels.
It is important to always give your dog insulin at the same time every day and feed him regular meals in conjunction with his medication. This allows increased nutrients in the blood to coincide with peak insulin levels. Also, it will lessen the chance that her sugar levels will swing either too high or too low.
Rabies is usually contracted when a dog is bitten by another infected animal. This deadly disease is a viral disease that may affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats, dogs and humans.
There’s good reason that the very word “rabies” evokes fear in people—once symptoms appear, rabies is close to 100% fatal.
Symptoms of Rabies:
Animals will not show signs immediately following exposure to a rabid animal. These symptoms can be varied and can take between two and eight weeks to incubate. Classic signs of rabies in dogs include:
Changes in behavior (including restlessness, apprehension, aggression or irritability).
Biting or snapping at any form of stimulus.
Attacking other animals, humans and even inanimate objects.
Licking, biting and chewing at the bite site.
Hiding in dark places.
Eating unusual objects.
Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles.
Foaming at the mouth.
Disorientation, incoordination and staggering.
Paralysis of the hind legs.
Loss of appetite.
Transmission of the virus through saliva can happen as early as ten days before symptoms appear.
Prevention of Rabies:
Rabies is most often transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. Vaccination is the key—and in many areas of the country, such as New York City, it’s the law.
Some local ordinances require lengthy quarantines—or euthanasia—of pets who have bitten someone if their owners do not have proof of current vaccination.
Vaccinating your dog doesn’t just protect him from rabies—it also protects your dog if he bites someone. Dogs who have bitten humans are required to be confined for at least 10 days to see if rabies develops.
Avoiding contact with wild animals is also necessary to prevention. Walk your dog on a leash and supervise him while he’s outsoodrs.
Treatment of Rabies:
Call your veterinarian for an immediate appointment!
Contact local animal control officers if the animal who bit your pet is still at large; they will be best able to safely apprehend and remove the animal from the environment.
The rabies virus may remain alive on your pet’s skin for up to two hours. It is best not to touch your dog during this time. If you must handle your dog, wear gloves and protective clothing.
A dog who is up to date with his vaccinations and who has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal should also be given a rabies booster vaccine immediately and kept under observation (length will vary depending on your state laws).
Humans are as susceptible to rabies just like dogs: If you think you’ve been bitten by a rabid animal, see your doctor immediately!
Note: Do not attempt to handle or capture a wild animal who is acting strangely (i.e., a nocturnal animal who is out during the day, an animal who acts unusually tame). Report the animal to local animal control officers as soon as possible.
Most dogs are attacked by external parasites. And, scratching is a typical sign that your dog is being attacked by fleas, ticks, or mange mites.
Fleas are small parasites that are dark brown in color. They live in the fur of dogs and other animals. They are so small and fast that it’s difficult to spot them. However, it’s easy to detect their excrement as little brown dots in your dogs fur.
When fully grown, ticks bury themselves into the skin of dogs and other mammals. Ticks suck their host’s blood before reproducing. And, they infect their hosts with very serious diseases. Sometimes ticks can cause anemia when the dog is heavily infested They can even produce a paralyzing shock.
These mites are microscopic and can cause skin irritation, hair loss and scabs. If the disease goes untreated, it can cause other organic disorders and the dog can die.
These mites settle in the ear canal and adjacent areas, and cause the dog an annoying irritation and itching.
Treatment of External Parasites:
The treatment of external parasites should be performed or recommended by a vet. It is recommended that the vet decides what course of treatment should be followed in each case.
Using pipettes or anti-parasitic collars are great for preventing external parasites. Another good way of prevention are bathing your dog and cleaning the dog’s ears regularly.
All dogs are susceptible to intestinal parasites. Hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, giardia and coccidia are some of the more prevalent intestinal parasites. Some intestinal parasites can also be transmitted to humans. So early detection and careful handling of your dog’s feces is important.
Causes of Intestinal Parasites:
Intestinal parasites in dogs are caused depending on the type of parasite that has been identified.
Hookworm: Eating infective larvae Transmission during nursing. Direct skin penetration.
Roundworm: Passed from mother to puppies in utero. Transmission during nursing. Ingestion of larvae. Through contact with infected feces.
Tapeworm: Eating infected prey animals. Fleas.
Giardia: Dirty drinking water. Eating feces.
Coccidia: Swallowing contaminated soil. Eating contaminated feces.
Treatment of Intestinal Parasites:
Parasitic treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infestation and the type of parasite.
Prescription oral medications will be used to eliminate adult hookworms. The treatment plan must be repeated several times to ensure that all hookworms have been expelled. A fecal exam will help your veterinarian determine how effective each treatment has been. Remove all feces from your yard immediately following your dog’s defecation. This will keep soil contamination to a minimum. Place feces into a plastic bag, seal and throw in the trash. Wash all bedding that your dog has had contact. Always use gloves when handling feces or contaminated bedding.
Most puppies will have been put on a schedule of anti-parasitic medications that remove roundworm infestations by their breeder. Once your dog is old enough, ask your veterinarian about a medication that also controls intestinal roundworm infections. Remove all feces from your yard daily. Use gloves and put feces in a plastic bag to keep contamination to a minimum.
Anti-parasitic medications will be given either orally or by injection. These medications cause the tapeworm to dissolve in the intestines. A follow-up fecal exam is necessary to determine if the infestation has been resolved.
Metronidazole, which is an antibiotic, will be given for generally five to seven days. Fenbendazole may also be used with metronidazole. Follow-up fecal tests and treatments may be required if the infection is severe. Wash your dog’s water bowl daily and give fresh water several times a day. Wash any bedding that your dog has come into contact.
Anti-parasitic medication as well as oral antibiotic may be prescribed. Albon is a common treatment for coccidia. Your veterinarian will perform a follow-up fecal exam. Treat all dogs in the home, not just the one presenting symptoms of coccidia.
Anti-diarrhea medication may also be administered if your dog is suffering from severe diarrhea. Remove all feces from your yard daily. Use gloves and put feces in a plastic bag to keep contamination to a minimum.
BE A GOOD FRIEND:
Your dog is your best friend, and friends look out for each other. Make sure your dog has his annual shots and check-ups. Even though he cannot verbalize when he is not feel well, you should be able to tell by changes in their behaviors. Monitor behavior changes and take them to the vet when necessary. This can lead to many years of loving and enjoyable relationships that you can cherish.
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