April 16, 2013

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

cushing's disease in dogsRead the following symptoms:

  • • Urinating often
  • • Drinking and eating very often
  • • Loss of body hair
  • • Thinner skin
  • • Bumps on the skin
  • • Increased energy
  • • Weight gain

Though these are common symptoms for many pet related illnesses, they are particularly linked with Cushing’s disease in dogs. Cushing’s s the overproduction of a hormone called glucocorticosteroids, by the adrenal glands.

There are surprisingly only two known causes of the overproduction of hormones by the adrenal glands. One cause is that the pituitary gland, a gland in the brain that is directly related to the adrenal gland, triggers the overproduction. Many animal health practitioners believe that this could be related to psychological and physical stress. The second cause, and a less occurring cause, is that a tumor on the adrenal glands causes the over production. In most cases the tumor is benign, but there have been cases where the tumor is cancerous.

To treat the disease, there are conventional options where a veterinarian will prescribe medication. There are also natural options where a license practitioner will alter a pet’s diet, provide herbal supplements, or administer homeopathic drugs.

It is important to know that there is no singular way to prevent Cushing’s disease in dogs. Often, health practitioners recommend feeding your pet a nutritious diet, while also ensuring that your pet does not feel psychological or physical stress.

Cushing’s disease is more common in dogs than in cats. Nonetheless, if you suspect that your cat or dog has Cushing’s Disease, request your veterinarian to perform a blood test in order to check your pet’s hormone levels and adrenal functioning. Leaving Cushing’s disease untreated in your pet can lead to further health problems that may be severe.

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March 15, 2013

Kidney Disease Awareness for Cats and Dogs

Did you know that it is National Kidney Awareness Month? Similar to how kidney disease can affect humans, it can also develop in pets. As a matter of fact, kidney disease is the second leading cause of death in cats. This is pretty scary if you’re a cat owner, right?

What do kidneys even do? Well, they are organs that have two main jobs:

1. Remove waste/toxins from the blood
2. Maintain bodily fluids

The job that kidneys perform is just as important as the job of our hearts. Without kidneys, animals, as well as humans, would die.

The problem with kidney disease is that it is hard to detect until it is too late. When you begin to see symptoms of the disease in your cat or dog, it is likely that 75% of their kidneys are already damaged. Such symptoms include:

• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Cloudy urine
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Bad breath
• Ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue
• Dull coats with heavy shedding

Since kidney disease is hard to detect until most of the damage is done, you have to take care of your pet’s kidney health (and all aspects of their health) the moment you become a pet owner. In order to do this, make sure that you take your furry friend for yearly check-ups with your vet, and ensure that your vet is doing yearly blood work. It is easier to detect illnesses, like kidney disease, through blood tests than relying on symptoms.

If your cat, dog, or any other pet has kidney disease, it is likely that your doctor will recommend the following treatment options:

1. Diet change
2. Fluid therapy
3. Various medications

Make sure you do the research regarding the pros and cons of all treatments. There are even natural options to help with kidney disease that you may find more suitable for your pet.

Below is a list of cat and dog breeds that are the most susceptible to kidney disease:


• Abyssinian
• Persian
• Siamese


• Beagles
• Bull and Cairn Terriers
• Chow Chows
• Dalmations
• Doberman Pinchers
• English Cocker Spaniels
• German Sheperds
• Minature Schnauzers
• Poodles
• Shar-Peis
• Samoyeds
• Shih Tzus

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August 19, 2010

Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Filed under: Dog Diseases — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:40 am

The adrenal system is the part of animals that controls hormone levels and not surprisingly, the adrenal gland is one of the main organs of the adrenal system.  Hormones are central to all kinds of animal behavior from sexual behavior, to stress, to immune responses.  Addison’s disease is the most common disease that affects the adrenal system in dogs leading to problems with the levels of particular hormones, namely glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids which are central to metabolism.

Addison’s disease in dogs can be extremely difficult to diagnose because the symptoms associated with this condition are nonspecific.  Lethargy, changes in appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting are some of the most common symptoms seen in dogs with Addison’s disease but they can obviously be associated with a whole host of illnesses.  However, many dog owners become suspicious that a more serious medical condition is at play when their dogs exhibit the symptoms of Addison’s disease repeatedly over a longer period of time.

While Addison’s disease is seen in all ages of dogs, it is most commonly diagnosed in young, female dogs.  There is some evidence to suggest that there is a genetic link and certain breeds may be predisposed to the condition.  Great Danes, Portuguese Water Dogs, Rottweilers, Standard poodles, and West Highland White Terriers seem to be especially susceptible to Addison’s disease in dogs.

Once the condition has been diagnosed, treatment focuses on providing your dog with supplements of glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoidsPrednisone is one of the most common treatments as it is known to enhance glucocorticoid levels at low doses.  These oral treatments need to be administered for the life of your dog in order to control the symptoms associated with Addison’s disease in dogs.  Left untreated, dogs with Addison’s disease may die prematurely so it is very important to seek treatment if you suspected your dog is suffering from this condition.

August 6, 2010

What is Canine Distemper?

Filed under: Dog Diseases — Dr. Amber Reed @ 2:35 pm

Bacteria, parasites, and viruses are responsible for a wide range of illnesses and diseases that affect dogs.  Canine distemper is one example of a viral infection that is most frequently seen in domesticated dogs and ferrets, but can also affect wild animals.  Closely related to the measles and rinderpest, canine distemper is usually prevented through vaccination but remains one of the most common serious diseases that infect dogs.

Generally, puppies between 3 and 6 months of age are more susceptible to the canine distemper virus.  The virus is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids as well as through contaminated food and water sources.  Certain bodily tissues in the dog, namely the lymphoid, epithelial, and nervous tissues, are particularly susceptible to infection, but once the virus enters your dog’s bloodstream it will have an impact on the respiratory, gastrointestinal, central nervous, and optic systems.  In most fatal cases of canine distemper, dogs suffer infections that reduce immune functioning often leading to secondary illnesses like pneumonia, encephalitis, and hyperkeratosis.

There are a variety of gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurological symptoms that aid in the diagnosis of canine distemper.  Some of these symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive salivation
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Involuntary twitching or seizures
  • Chewing gum fits
  • Light sensitivity
  • Poor motor skills

During the long history of canine distemper, treatment has been relatively unsuccessful.  However, in recent years, treatment has moved from palliative in nature to prevention through vaccination.  Also, even when vaccination is not possible, canine distemper can often be treated with Ribavirin and vitamin A, Interferon, and other treatments that are used for similar viruses like the measles.  Nevertheless, prevention is the most effective way to avoid canine distemper which is why your puppy should be vaccinated.

August 3, 2010

Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs

Filed under: Dog Diseases — Dr. Amber Reed @ 2:00 pm

The pancreas is an organ found in all mammals that is responsible for producing insulin and is therefore critical in the metabolism of sugar.  Moreover, the pancreas releases pancreatic enzymes that are necessary for the body to process various nutrients.  Acute pancreatitis is a condition wherein the pancreas is severely inflamed leading to illness and possibly even death.

The causes of acute pancreatitis in dogs may be external or internal.  For example, various medications have been known to cause the condition and certain metabolic disorders are also associated with acute pancreatitis.  Infections, physical trauma, obesity, and nutrition tend to be the most common causes of acute pancreatitis in dogs.

They symptoms of acute pancreatitis in dogs can be quite severe and include but are not limited to the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Distended abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Oily, greasy, or loose stools
  • Fever

Obviously, if you notice these symptoms in your dog it is important to visit the veterinarian because acute pancreatitis can be life threatening but also because only a veterinarian can correctly diagnose your dog’s illness.  Diagnosing acute pancreatitis in dogs requires close observation, a physical examination, and likely some clinical tests.  Generally speaking, dogs with acute pancreatitis have an excess of amylase and lipase in their body making these an important indicator of the disease.

Treating acute pancreatitis depends on how ill your dog has become.  Your veterinarian will first aim to control vomiting and diarrhea and then to get enzyme levels back to normal.  In most cases, dogs with acute pancreatitis cannot eat or drink for about 24 hours after diagnosis allowing the pancreas to heal.  Following this, your veterinarian will recommend a strict diet of low-fat, low-salt, and easily digestible foods.

June 11, 2010

Epilepsy in Dogs

Filed under: Dog Diseases,Epilepsy — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:34 pm

epilepsyEpilepsy is a condition characterized by recurrent symptomatic seizures that can affect all living animals from humans to our pets.  Seizures are defined as uncoordinated muscle spasms as the result of neurons firing uncontrollably in the brain, usually the cerebellum.  Dogs with epilepsy will generally start to show symptoms around 2 to 3 years of age but the condition may start any time between 6 months and 5 years of age.  While research continues to attempt to discover the causes and mechanism of epilepsy, there are still many mysteries associated with the condition.  A dog suffering from epilepsy will exhibit random fits or convulsions known as seizures.

The causes of seizures are variable and may not always be attributed to epilepsy.  There may be some congenital defects or an associated disease like diabetes or hypoglycemia.  Moreover, seizures may be caused by low oxygen levels in the blood, anemia, kidney disorders, brain tumors, poisoning, liver disease and even certain medications.  As a result, veterinarians must carefully rule out the various other causes of seizures before diagnosing epilepsy.  Diagnosing epilepsy in dogs requires that your veterinarian takes a detailed history and performs a thorough physical and neurological exam.  This process includes a number of laboratory tests, x-rays, and other brain scans.  When the cause of the seizures cannot be identified, epilepsy is diagnosed.

There are a number of treatments for epilepsy in dogs, although none of them are curative.  Because the causes of epileptic seizures cannot be identified, it is nearly impossible to completely cure the disorder.  As such, dog epilepsy treatments are symptomatic and aimed at controlling the seizures to provide your dog with the best possible quality of life.  Oral medications are usually the first course of treatment and these include Phenobarbital and potassium bromide.  Every dog will respond differently to epilepsy medications so it may take some time for your vet to find the ideal treatment.  In very severe cases, where your dog’s epilepsy includes prolonged seizures, intravenous drugs, such as valium, may be required.

June 4, 2010

Warts in Dogs

Filed under: Dog Diseases,dog lumps — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:38 pm

Also known as canine papilloma virus, warts in dogs is a relatively common condition that usually affects younger dogs.  As humans, we’re used to seeing warts on our fingers or hands but many pet owners are not aware that dogs also get warts.  These small, round growths on the skin are often the result of a viral condition and can be distinguished from other skin tumors by their appearance.  Generally speaking, dog warts that result from canine papilloma virus have a rough surface that somewhat resembles cauliflower.  In most cases, dog warts will appear in younger dogs around the mouth, lips, and muzzle of your dog but may also be apparent on the eyelids, eyes, feet, and between the toes.

skin disease in dogsCanine papilloma virus is passed between dogs through direct contact with the dog warts.  Moreover, the virus can actually survive in your dog’s environment for as much as two months given the right conditions.  From the point of infection, it usually takes about 2 months for the first warts to apyou gotta be pear.  Young dogs (less than 2 years old) are more often affected than mature dogs because in order for the virus to be transmitted the immune system of the dog must be underdeveloped.

Canine papilloma virus is not a dangerous disease in dogs and in many instances veterinarians will not recommend treatment for dog warts.  In fact, warts in dogs may disappear on their own, without treatment, as your dog’s immune system develops.  On the other hand, if your dog’s warts become painful, they can make it difficult for your puppy to eat.  In these situations, medical intervention is necessary the health risks associated with not eating can be very severe.  Surgical removal of your dog’s warts may be indicated but some vets also opt to crush the wart in order to force the immune system to react.  Finally, a kind of antibacterial medication (azithromycin) has been used to treat warts in dogs.

May 29, 2010

Juvenile Osteoporosis in Dogs

Filed under: Dog Diseases,joint pain — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:56 pm

dog with leg painOsteoporosis is a bone disease that we usually associate with older dogs; yet the structural changes that occur in the bones of dogs with osteoporosis can be seen in young dogs as well.  Indeed, juvenile osteoporosis leads to the degradation of the supporting tissue in the bones leaving a highly mineralized, brittle bone that is more easily damaged.  Diet and exercise as well as vascular and hormonal changes are all associated with juvenile osteoporosis in dogs.  In most instances of the disease, a lack of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in the diet or an insensitivity to these minerals leads to juvenile osteoporosis in dogs.

While it occurs more often in cats, juvenile osteoporosis is relatively common in dogs.  Dog juvenile osteoporosis first appears shortly after weaning.  Dogs with this condition usually appear normal but their bones are much thinner and weaker than the average dog.  In some cases, the dog’s front legs will be bowed and you will notice some lameness.  In very extreme cases, weak bones may collapse as a result of a folding fracture leaving dogs with deformed bones and usually suffering quite a lot of pain.  Diagnosing juvenile osteoporosis in dogs requires an x-ray by your veterinarian as well as a careful look at your dog’s diet.

Larger breeds are especially at risk of juvenile osteoporosis and the condition may be seen in the first six or eight weeks of life. German Shepherds and Saint Bernards are the most likely breeds to suffer from juvenile osteoporosis probably because of their greater need for calcium during skeletal development.  Fortunately, dogs with juvenile osteoporosis can be treated; in fact, juvenile osteoporosis may be reversed given an adequate diet that is rich in calcium.  If you suspect your dog may be suffering from juvenile osteoporosis, you should visit your veterinarian immediately to seek proper treatment.

May 3, 2010

What is Degenerative Valve Disease in Dogs?

Filed under: Dog Diseases,pet health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:50 pm

While there are many types of heart disease that may affect your dog, one of the most common is degenerative valve disease.  The mitral valve, which is found between the left atrium and the left ventricle, is especially prone to degenerative valve disease while the tricuspid valve (between the right atrium and right ventricle) can also be affected.  The effect of degenerative valve disease is that the valves themselves begin to leak resulting in a heart murmur.  In a healthy heart, blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle is controlled by these valves.  However, dogs with degenerative valve disease develop this murmur which is caused when blood moves backwards into the atrium.

Picture of the Mitral ValveAs degenerative valve disease progresses, the leaky valve causes too much blood to accumulate in the atrium and ventricle causing these heart chambers to expand.  Over time, the pressure in the heart builds up and may even affect other organs.  In mitral degenerative valve disease, blood may leak out of blood vessels into the lungs leading to congestive heart failure.  In tricuspid degenerative valve disease in dogs, fluid can leak from the chest into the abdominal cavity causing a large abdominal cavity that looks like a bloated abdomen.

In most cases, degenerative valve disease in dogs mostly affects older, small breeds and the disease is more prevalent in males.  Some breeds that are predisposed to degenerative valve disease include Miniature poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, terriers, and Miniature Schnauzers.  Unfortunately, treatment of degenerative valve disease rarely cures the condition.  Instead, veterinarians aim to alleviate the symptoms of congestive heart failure and by removing any fluid that may build up in the abdominal cavity.  For dogs, degenerative valve disease is the most common cause of heart failure and there may be little you can do to prevent death.  Because heart failure due to degenerative valve disease in dogs normally affects older dogs, veterinarians will encourage taking steps to improve the comfort of your dog during his final days.

May 1, 2010

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Filed under: Bladder Stones — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:35 pm

Dog with Bladder StonesAs you have probably already guessed, many of the illnesses that can affect humans can also affect our four-legged friends.  Bladder stones are one of the most common conditions that dogs may suffer through in their lifetimes.  Usually the result of recurrent bladder infections, bladder stones can lead to problems with the kidneys and other organs in addition to being very painful for your dog.  Since almost all breeds of dogs can get bladder stones, it is helpful to understand the condition and its treatments for the safety of your own dog.

When excess waste and minerals begins to crystallize in the dog’s bladder, you get a bladder stone.  While symptoms can vary greatly between dogs, acute and serious pain is almost always present.  Also known as uroliths, bladder stones are most common in dogs between the age of four and six years and in female dogs; although, older dogs and male dogs are not immune to the condition.  Chronic infections (especially chronic bladder infections), metabolic diseases, pour nutrition, and other factors are leading causes of bladder stones.  Over time, bladder stones almost always become quite painful for dogs so if you notice that your dog is frequently ill with infection it is probably a good idea to visit the vet.

Treating bladder stones usually comes down to dietary changes but there are some medical techniques that help.  First of all, because bladder stones are often associated with an infection, your veterinarian will likely prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate the underlying infection.  Then, if dietary changes are not sufficient for treating the stones, a number of other medical treatments may be required.  Surgical removal of the stones may be necessary in the most extreme cases but most veterinarians will try less invasive treatments.  If you suspect your dog is suffering from bladder stones visit your vet immediately to determine the best course of action.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.