Your pet has just been diagnosed with kidney or liver disease, diabetes or heartworm. You ask yourself “how could I have prevented this?” The answer is to:
Recognize the Signs
In the last several years, knowledge of these diseases has increased and great advances have been made. A complete examination and related tests can be done by your veterinarian to determine the cause of the symptoms, and a better than ever course of treatments can be prescribed.
Kidney disease is one of the most common problems of older dogs and cats, and the leading cause of death. Unfortunately the signs go undetected until a large part of the kidney function has been lost. Any changes in your pets’ habits, such as loss of appetite, increased thirst, frequent or no urination, depression, vomiting and/or weight loss are warning signs and cause for concern. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
The largest gland in the body is the liver, which serves many complex functions. It is subject to damage by a variety of diseases. The more common signs of liver disease in mature cats and dogs include: lack of appetite, weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of gums or whites of the eyes), increased thirst and dark coloured urine. The pet’s abdomen and liver may become enlarged due to fluid buildup. Don’t mistake this for weight gain.
Treatment of the liver will differ depending on the cause of the initial damage. Fortunately, the liver has great reserve capacity and the ability to regenerate. Therefore, if the cause of the problem is eliminated, and proper dietary therapy instituted, chances are good for recovery.
Diabetes results when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to meet the body’s requirements. An animal with diabetes will exhibit some or all of the following symptoms: weakness, increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination, rapid weight loss, and abdominal pain. Cataract formation may also indicate diabetes. In dogs, females are affected twice as often as males, but in cats diabetes is more prevalent in males.
There is no cure for diabetes but it can be controlled with insulin injections, diet and exercise. With such therapy, your pet can lead a happy, comfortable life. Once control is achieved, evaluation should be done every two to four months.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet:
- exhibits any lack of appetite, unsteadiness or depression
- deviates from normal behaviour or from normal glucose pattern
- develops cataracts
- has seizures
- lapses into a coma
You should not breed a diabetic female because it is extremely difficult to control diabetes during pregnancy; it may cause a life-threatening situation.
A diabetic pet requires treatment and a time commitment of its owner. Such an effort may not be easy to make, but can be very rewarding. It adds to the quality of your pet’s life; you are repaid in extra years of healthy companionship.
Does your dog have a chronic soft cough, laboured breathing, tire easily during exercise, or collapse? If so, your pet may have heartworm disease. A heartworm is a large parasitic round worm, spread by mosquitoes, from infected dog to healthy dog, causing obstruction to the blood flow and damage to the heart, lungs and liver.
Most heartworm infected dogs can be successfully treated, but the methods are usually costly and can be dangerous. The best treatment is prevention. Your veterinarian can perform a quick blood test, and if your dog is not infected, a simple monthly or daily preventative medication should start immediately.
Hookworms (nematodes) and roundworms (ascarids) live in a dog’s intestine, and their eggs are passed out into the environment through dog feces. Once the environment is contaminated, all dogs in the area are at risk. Signs of hookworm infection include diarrhea, anemia, weakness, and weight loss. Ascarid infection is marked by a dull coat, a ‘pot bellied’ appearance, and retarded growth. Pneumonia, liver damage and even death may occur in severe cases, especially in young puppies.
A fecal sample from your dog, examined by your veterinarian, will determine if your pet is infected. Hookworms and ascarids can be treated, controlled and prevented by putting your dog on a simple medication program. Guard your dog against parasites now.
Pets need dental care, too. Proper dental care is very important to help prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Your veterinarian can recognize and correct gum disease before it becomes irreversible. You can do your part at home by brushing your pet’s teeth with a special toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets.
It is in the best interest of your pet to get a yearly checkup plus all the necessary vaccines, as determined by your veterinarian, to maintain your pet’s good health. There are many infectious diseases of animals, many of them fatal. Vaccination is a safe and easy way to prevent disease. Compassion goes a long way. See your veterinarian today!