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 26, 2013

Unique Activities to Keep Your Pet Fit

Filed under: cat health,cats,Dog health,dogs,pets — Tags: , , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:08 pm

pet-activitiesWith the sunshine now peeking out from behind winter clouds, the birds chirping happily and baby animals coming out to play, now is the perfect time to experience the joy of spring and maybe even shed some of those winter pounds too.

And let’s face it: you’re not the only one who gained some extra hibernation weight over winter – your pet could use the exercise too!

But if you’re sick of the same old walk in the park, why not mix it up a little and try some of our unique ways to keep your pet fit this spring?

 

Star Jumps for Dogs
Who says star jumps are just for humans? Not so! Star jumps are a great cardiovascular workout for your pet. Just take one of their favorite toys and tap their nose gently with it, before lifting the toy up into the air. Your dog should follow your movement and leap into the air playfully.

Cat Cardio
The greatest investment you will ever make for your cat’s fitness is a mini torch. While you’re doing your own workout (or even making dinner, doing the chores or anything else around the house) you can entice your cat into exercise by turning on a mini flashlight and shining it against the wall and the floor. Your cat will chase after the light and unwittingly get in some great cardio.

Stair Work for Dogs and Cats
Just like a quick journey up and down stairs can leave you huffing and puffing, it can increase the cardiovascular health of your pet too. For dogs, why not run up and down some stairs at the local park? For cats, just trail their favorite toy up and down the stairs at home.

Walking the Cat
You read correctly. Dogs aren’t the only ones who can enjoy a pleasant walk outside. Plenty of pet stores have leashes and collars specifically developed for cats, so why not pick one up and try it out? Test it out in your backyard first as your cat will need to get used to the sensation of a collar and leash. If you have a kitten, try to train them to do this as young as possible and make sure you keep your cat away from parks or areas where dogs regularly frequent.

Ultimate Frisbee for Dogs
We have all seen the movies where the Golden Retriever leaps gracefully into the air and catches a Frisbee. But that’s just stuff of the movies, right? Not the case! You can teach your pooch to become an ultimate Frisbee pro in no time. Just pick up a Frisbee, walk down to the local park and start practicing!

And once you’re done trying out these unique exercises, why not create some of your own? Exercise should be as much about play as it is about health for your pet, so get creative. Your pet will thank you.

After all, according to the experts, over 35 percent of pets are overweight, which puts them at risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and breathing problems.

So this spring, make a pact with your pet to help them become the fittest pet in the neighborhood.

 

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March 20, 2013

Dealing With a Loss of a Pet

One of the saddest aspects of pet ownership is coming to terms with the death of a beloved pet. Our pets are part of the family and as such, it’s only natural that we mourn and grieve their loss.

What to expect emotionally

While some (mostly those who don’t own a pet themselves) scoff at the idea of mourning a pet, it’s actually a perfectly normal and natural response. The stages of grief for those who have lost a pet are in fact very similar to those who have lost a family member or loved one.

While the length of the mourning and grieving process is individual to each circumstance, the following emotions and stages are quite common:

Stage one: Denial – Typically, this stage lasts the shortest and occurs when the owner hasn’t yet accepted, or come to terms, with the loss.

Stage two: Anger – In the next stage, many pet owners channel their anger towards a third party for the loss of their pet.

Stage three: Guilt – There will always be the ‘what if’ component of any loss and it’s normal for a pet owner to feel guilt over what they could have done, even if there were no other options.

Stage four: Depression – The final stage of grieving is typically personified by a deep sadness that permeates the pet owner’s life and reduces their motivation.

Coping mechanisms

Thankfully though, there are coping mechanisms that you can put in place to help deal with the death of a pet, the first of which is to allow yourself to grieve. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge the emotion and let it run its course. The following, lists some coping mechanisms you can try:

• Where possible, speak to friends, family and loved ones about your loss.
• Prepare a tribute to celebrate the life of your pet. This could be a scrapbook, a letter or a poem to your pet.
• Make a difference to the lives of other pets and either volunteer your time at an animal rescue organization or donate money on behalf of your pet.
• Seek the support of professionals, whether that is your own family therapist or an organization like The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. The American Veterinary Medical Association also has pet loss support hotlines available for your use.
• If the sight of your pet’s belongings upsets you, you can put them away during your mourning period or donate them to charity.
• You can organize a memorial or funeral for your pet. This is one of the more practical aspects to consider. Whether you choose to create a burial in your backyard, or plant a tree in your pet’s honor, the final resting place of your pet is a special and important decision.
Other tips

• If you have other pets, understand that they may experience grief too, even if it’s just in response to your own.
• Do not bring a new pet into your life until you feel completely ready. You must be emotionally up to the demands of a new pet and able to dedicate yourself to their upbringing.
• If you have children in your family, be honest and open about your pet’s death and support your children through their grief.

And finally, be kind to yourself. This is a difficult and emotional event in any pet owners life. Ensure that you take care of yourself and give yourself the time and the space to move on.

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February 12, 2013

Pet Health: Smoking and Your Furry Friend

Filed under: cats,dogs,pet health,pets,puppy health,Smoking,Uncategorized,Your Pet — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:00 pm

At one point or another, we have all been told that smoking is bad for our health. We have been shown the impact of tar on human organs, we have been told about the many cancers that can result from smoking, and time after time we are informed of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Full of this knowledge on the health risks related to smoking, have you ever consider the impact that smoking may have on your pet?

Just as smoking may affect the people around you, studies have shown that it may also impact your pets. When someone smokes, toxins are released into the very same air that your pet breathes in. When breathing in air, the toxins move through your pet’s mouth, into their lungs, and throughout their circulation system. This process is repeated every time your furry friend takes a breath. Moreover, toxins that are released into the air come in contact with your pet’s fur and skin. When grooming themselves, pets lick their fur, fur on which toxins like nicotine and tar may collect. The nicotine and tar enters your pet’s mouth and digestive system each time they lick themselves.

Smoking effects and pet health

Studies have shown that a few effects that second-hand smoke can have on your pet are:

  • Cancers: lymphoma, lung, and nasal
  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Skin diseases
  • Eye infections
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation

It is common for us to hear the effects that smoking has upon humans, that we may forget to think about how our pets are impacted. Next time you think of lighting up near your pet, think about the effects that smoking might have on their health.

 

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April 29, 2010

Avian Aspergillosis: Respiratory Tract Infections in Birds

Filed under: Pet Birds,pet health,Pet Symptoms,pets,respiratory infections — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:52 pm

Bird owners are probably aware that respiratory tract infections are quite common in pet birds, especially Aspergillosis.This condition is caused by a fungal infection in the bird’s airways and the subsequent illness can be quite serious.Depending on the type of infection, Aspergillosis in birds can be associated with a variety of symptoms.Generally speaking, there are two forms of Aspergillosis in birds: acute and chronic.

Avian Aspergillosis Acute bird aspergillosis is more often seen in young or recently imported birds and the symptoms tend to last only a short while despite being more severe.The main symptoms of the acute form of this respiratory tract infection include lack of appetite, breathing problems, and possibly death.In fact, left untreated, aspergillosis in birds causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and the bird’s lungs may become congested with white mucus.On the other hand, chronic aspergillosis in birds is more common in older, captive birds.The infection may develop over a long period of time with several symptoms becoming apparent over the course of the illness.Listlessness, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, and breathing difficulties are the main symptoms of the chronic form of this bird respiratory tract infection; moreover, some of the symptoms may become permanent.Bone changes may occur and the upper respiratory tract may become misshapen.Chronic aspergillosis can also spread to the nervous system which causes tremors, loss of coordination, and in severe cases paralysis.

Avian aspergillosis is caused by fungal contamination of food or water sources in addition to nest boxes, incubators, and ventilated regions. This particular bird respiratory tract infection may also have a variety of environmental causes but when it’s caught early it can be treated therefore any time you notice respiratory tract issues in your bird, visit a veterinarian immediately.

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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.