How to treat common health issues in pets?
Like humans, pets also have many health problems. Each issue should be treated by a vet depending on the severity and recurrence of the problem. To help your pets live a healthy life, you should know some of the most common health issues they face, recognise them, and how you can treat them.
One of the most common pet health issues is obesity. Unnecessary weight gain in pets happens due to lack of exercise and from eating too much food.
Consult your vet to decide what diet plan is right for your pet or if specialty food might be needed to prevent further health problems. An easy way to solve the obesity problem is to take your pet outside for a walk regularly or engage your pet with new toys to keep him or her active and healthy.
Pet allergies are often caused by the types of treats pets are given, the atmosphere pets are in, or (just like humans) during times when the weather is changing.
Signs of allergies
- change in behavior from your pet
- Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose.
- Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath, and wheezing
- Watery, red, or itchy eyes.
Allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds. Most allergies appear after six months of age, with most affected dogs over one or two years.
Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids or antihistamines, will quickly block the allergic reaction in most cases.
Shampoo therapy. Frequent bathing with a hypoallergenic shampoo can be soothing to itchy, inflamed skin.
Hypersensitivity or food allergy can develop in almost any protein or carbohydrate component of food. It most commonly develops in response to the protein in the food; beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, dairy products, and soy are commonly associated with food allergies in dogs. A food allergy can develop at almost any age.
Common clinical signs include itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress.
Identify the offending components of the diet and eliminate them. The most accurate way to test for food allergies is with an elimination diet trial using a veterinary hypoallergenic diet.
Plant material can sometimes work its way into the ear and cause ear infections in cats and dogs. Make a routine to check the ears of your pet, whenever you groom them.
The infected ears smell bad and have bloody discharge. An infected dog may shake its head excessively and scratch or paw at the ear.
Take your pet to the vet, who will thoroughly clean your dog’s ears using a medicated ear cleanser. Your vet may also prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical medication for you to use at home. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
There are five main types of worms that commonly affect pets: heartworms, hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, and whipworm.
Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is spread by mosquito bites so it’s hard to prevent.
The worms can cause mild symptoms, such as coughing, but with time, more severe symptoms such as congestive heart failure, weight loss, fluid buildup in the abdomen, fainting spells, anemia, collapse, and death usually occur. A yearly blood test is needed to check for this widespread disease.
Your vet will prescribe a monthly tablet or a shot that lasts for up to 6 months to kill any organisms present in the bloodstream.
Hookworms are small, thread-like parasites of the small intestine where they attach and suck large amounts of blood. These parasites are found in almost all parts of the world, being common in dogs, and occasionally seen in cats.
Symptoms are usually diarrhea and weight loss. The parasites can actually suck so much blood that they cause pale gums from anemia, and black and tarry stools.
There are a variety of anti worm medications that can kill hookworms.
These worms are the most common of the intestinal parasitic worms found inside a dog, car and raccoon. Almost all dogs become infected with them at some time in their lives. Puppies are frequently born with roundworms, and kittens can be infected via the mother’s milk or feces.
These parasites can cause diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and even coughing in these young patients. You should bring a fresh stool sample to your puppy or kitten’s appointment.
The CDC recommends regular deworming of all puppies and kittens to try to reduce exposure to people.
Tapeworms are a common intestinal parasite that can affect your pets. They are long, flat, and segmented parasites. The segments can look like grains of rice, and they are passed through an infected pet’s feces, where they may be seen in the stool, the fur around the pet’s anus or in their bedding.
The symptoms include Weight loss even when eating normally, distended abdomen, vomiting, Diarrhoea, and dull coats in cats and dogs.
The vet may prescribe a drug called praziquantel to treat tapeworms, either orally or by injection. The medication causes the tapeworm to dissolve within the intestine. The drug generally does not have adverse side effects.
Whipworms are intestinal parasites that are about 6mm long. They live in the cecum small and large intestine of pets, where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. Dogs become infected by eating the whipworm eggs in the soil, usually during grooming.
Not all dogs show signs of a whipworm infection, but those that do may have diarrhea with blood and mucus, dehydration, and weight loss. Whipworm infections are diagnosed by finding parasite eggs during a veterinary fecal exam.
Your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-worm medication to kill the parasites in your dog’s system and help alleviate his symptoms. There are several common anti-worm medications that are effective in treating whipworms, including febantel, fenbendazole, milbemycin, moxidectin, and oxantel.
Skin bacterial and fungal infections
Bacterial and fungal infections can have your pet feeling itchy, with skin that appears flaky, crusty, or moist. Redness, inflammation, and odor may also be a problem, that leads to yeast dermatitis or staph infection.
Whenever you brush, clip, or bathe your pet, check her skin for bumps, bald spots, or cuts. This can indicate health problems related to a skin infection.
Your pet may prescribe oral antibiotics, antibacterial shampoo or topical ointments depending upon the type of skin infection. The treatment may take several weeks to have an effect.
Skin conditions due to parasitic infections
These are the most common external parasites in pets which feed on their blood, cause persistent itching or scratching and eventually leads to hair loss.
Check for droppings of “flea dirt” or white flea eggs while you groom your pet. If you find fleas during grooming or the course of caring for her daily, you’ll need to get rid of them as soon as possible. Take your pet to the vet that may suggest topical or oral treatments, shampoos, sprays, or powders.
Another common parasite that pets can get is ticks. They are visible to the naked eye and feed on your pet’s blood. Put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves and use a pair of tweezers to grasp the ticks.
Tiny parasites called ear mites are also common in pets, though mostly in kittens and younger cats. Recognize ear mites by a black, coffee-ground-like discharge in your cat’s ears.
Take your cat to the vet to confirm a diagnosis of ear mites. The vet will give you treatment to get rid of the mites and soothe your cat’s itchy ears.
Arthritis in pets
Arthritis is an inflammation of any joint in the body. Inflammation can have many causes. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which can be due to wear and tear on joints from overuse, aging, injury, or from an unstable joint in the knee.
It causes swollen, painful, inflamed joints.
Surgery may be needed to stabilize a joint.
It is a lifelong disorder of dogs and cats that results when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to meet the animal’s needs.
Early symptoms, such as weakness, weight loss, change in appetite, and depression can be mild and may go unnoticed by the owner. Increased thirst and frequent urination more commonly result in a visit to your Veterinarian where tests can be done to identify what may be affecting the family pet. Urinary tract infections are more common in diabetic pets than in normal animals.
Cats are usually Type II diabetics. Insulin injections are usually used initially, but when fed a special diet, as much as 70% of cats can eventually be maintained without insulin.
There is no cure for DM, but through your commitment to time and management of your lifestyle, your pet can lead a happy comfortable life.
These are common in dogs, but more unusual in cats. Seizures are just symptoms that can occur with many kinds of diseases. Seizures most commonly last for a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
Testing should be done to try to determine the cause of the seizures.
Intravenous medication can be given by a veterinarian to stop a seizure. If the seizures become too frequent, usually any more than every four to six weeks, anti-convulsant medication can be given to try to reduce future seizures.
Signs of digestive system disease can include excessive drooling, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting or regurgitation, loss of appetite, bleeding, abdominal pain and bloating, straining to defecate, shock, and dehydration. The location and nature of the disease often can be determined by the signs your pet shows.
Treatment for digestive issues in pets
- Anti-nausea medications.
- Antacids and stomach/intestinal protectants.
- Medicines to relieve diarrhea.
- Probiotics formulated for pets.
- Fluid therapy (for dehydration and electrolyte replacement).
- A bland diet (plain chicken and rice are common) or a special diet for sensitive stomachs.