Top Conditions in Dogs
Top Conditions in Cats
1. Ear Infection
1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease
2. Skin Allergy
3. Skin Infection/Hot Spots
3. Chronic Renal Failure
6. Bladder Infection
7. Skin Allergy
8. Soft Tissue Trauma
8. Periodontitis/Dental Disease
9. Noncancerous Tumor
9. Ear Infection
10. Eye Infection
10. Eye Infection
Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), 2009
Not surprisingly, ear infections are the number one cause of doggie vet visits. Cats also suffer from ear problems, but not nearly as often as their canine counterparts.
When you consider the long, floppy, fur lined ears of many dogs compared to the typical cat’s much smaller, erect ear, it’s not difficult to imagine why dogs wind up with more issues with their ears.
Causes of Ear Inflammation and Infection
Problems with your pup’s ears will typically be from inflammation and/or infection. Untreated inflammation can progress to an infection.
Signs of inflammation without infection are hot, red, swollen or itchy ears, but without much discharge. A significant amount of discharge in addition to some or all of these other symptoms signals an infection.
The most common reason for ear inflammation in both dogs and cats is allergies. Allergic responses to foods or environmental irritants can cause inflammation throughout your pet’s body, including his ears.
The second most common reason for canine ear infections is moisture, or “swimmer’s ear.” There are many ways for moisture to accumulate in your dog’s ear, including:
- Swimming in lakes, ponds, pools or any body of water
- Playing in rain or snow
- Baths (at home or at the groomer)
- Humid climates
Wax buildup can also create an inflammatory condition. Certain dog breeds, such as retrievers, bulldogs, cocker spaniels and poodles, tend to produce more wax than other breeds. And your kitty isn’t immune to waxy buildup, either. Some cats’ ears never need attention, while others need regular cleaning.
You can read here for additional information about pet ear infections and tips on how to keep your dog’s or cat’s ears clean and healthy.
No. 1 Health Problem for Cats: Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), also known as feline urologic syndrome (FUS) is a collection of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra of your kitty.
Causes of FLUTD include urinary tract infections, urinary stones, urethral plugs and other disorders, including cancer.
FLUTD can occur at any age, but it is most often seen in middle-aged, overweight, under exercised indoor cats who eat a dry diet.
Regardless of the cause, if your cat has FLUTD you will very likely notice one or more of the following signs:
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Frequent or prolonged attempts to urinate
- Straining to urinate or crying out while urinating
- Excessive licking of the genital area
- Blood in the urine
To help prevent FLUTD -- or a recurrence -- in your kitty:
- Feed frequent small meals of species-appropriate canned or raw food
- Provide a constant supply of clean, fresh water
- Make sure you have enough litter boxes for the number of cats in your household (at least one box per kitty), and that they are kept clean and are located in quiet, safe areas of your home
A hot spot -- clinical name pyotraumatic dermatitis -- is an area of your dog’s skin that is inflamed and infected.
These lesions are caused and made worse when your pup licks, scratches and bites the irritated patch of skin. Common locations for hot spots are the legs, paws, flanks, and backside -- all areas your dog can reach to lick and bite.
A hot spot is typically itchy, painful, red and oozing. Some hair loss is usually evident.
Hot spots can appear out of nowhere and grow quickly. You might notice your dog preoccupied with a small area of skin one evening before bed, and by morning, the small patch is the size of your hand. Your pup may appear very agitated and unable to leave the spot alone.
The underlying cause of your dog’s itchy skin might be:
- An allergy to food or something in the environment
- Fleas, mites or other external parasites
- Insect bites
- Injury to the skin like a scrape
- Boredom or stress, which causes your dog to “start” his own hot spot
Hot spots can signal a deeper infection, so it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine how to treat the problem.
And keep in mind that these skin lesions can be quite painful for your pup, so take precautions in case his discomfort causes him to snap at you or other family members.
If your dog or cat has gastritis, it means the lining of the stomach is inflamed. The most common symptom is vomiting.
Gastritis in dogs and cats can be mild, or debilitating and even life threatening.
If your pet’s gastritis is acute, symptoms will usually subside in about a week. However, if your pup or kitty has chronic gastritis, there’ll be on-and-off vomiting that can continue for several weeks.
The cause of gastritis in pets covers a wide range of possibilities and can include:
- Ingesting spoiled food or a foreign body
- Food allergies
- Ingestion of a toxin
- Reaction to a medication
- Cancer of the stomach
Just as with humans, your pet’s health begins in the gut.
To keep your dog or cat’s gastrointestinal tract in top form, which will also strengthen their immune system and improve overall health, I recommend Complete Probiotics for Pets. I developed the product with the team of top probiotic experts from Mercola.com, and it’s the only probiotic supplement I give my own dogs and cats.
Hyperthyroidism and Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Cats
Both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and chronic renal failure (CRF) are common conditions in middle aged and older kitties and have several symptoms in common, including:
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Dull coat
Hyperthyroidism can actually mask symptoms of CRF by increasing blood flow to the kidneys. Treatments for hyperthyroidism reduce the level of thyroid hormone, which in turn reduces blood flow to the kidneys. This can unmask CRF symptoms, bringing the kidney problems to the forefront, and can also cause some deterioration of healthy kidneys.
It’s very important to get an accurate diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, CRF or both, and cats that are undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism – or have been treated in the past – should be carefully monitored for kidney function.
Unfortunately, chronic renal failure is a leading cause of death in older cats. It is a gradual and irreversible deterioration of kidney function over a period of months or years.
Contributing factors to the disease, other than age, include genetics, environment and disease. I would also add diet to that list, as CRF is very often seen in cats that are fed only dry food.
Some breeds appear to have a higher risk of developing CRF, including the Abyssinian, Balinese, Burmese, Maine Coon, Russian Blue and Siamese.
Top Five Tips for Keeping Your Pet in Good Health
- A species-appropriate diet that maintains your pet’s ideal body weight, and probiotic supplementation as required
- A constant supply of fresh drinking water
- Adequate exercise and play time
- At home dental care and wellness exams
- Regular visits to your holistic veterinarian
Sometimes pets get sick or injured no matter how careful you are to prevent it. But if you follow the above tips consistently, you can rest easy knowing you’re providing your much-loved companion with the essential ingredients for a long, happy, healthy life.