Just like humans, pets are susceptible to a number of health complications. While some complaints—like arthritis and kidney disease—are more common in older pets, diabetes and dental diseases can strike at any age. Regular visits to the vet and a religious vaccination regime can both help you keep your pet in top shape, but being informed about animal disease management is key. Read on for a comprehensive guide to the most common and serious conditions in pets and how to treat them.
Obesity is as big of an issue in the animal world as it is for humans. Obese pets are more prone to other chronic conditions such as heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. The risk of an early death also rises with excess weight. While obesity may be caused by a slow metabolism, over-feeding is usually the main culprit. Give your pet the recommended amount of sustenance; avoid giving them unhealthy treats or fatty human foods. Consult with your vet to find out how to manage the condition—a combination of diet and exercise will be needed.
A chronic disease usually linked to the natural ageing process, diabetes can also affect younger pets for a multitude of reasons—both hereditary and nutrition-related. While diabetes can be managed with a vet-approved diet and tailored exercise plan, some pets may need regular insulin shots to cope.
An illness most common in older cats, kidney disease can be diagnosed by undergoing regular blood tests at the vet. While cats with the condition can be kept healthy for several years, dogs typically deteriorate more quickly. Some symptoms include vomiting, weight loss, excessive thirst and bloody urine. Manage the condition with a low salt and low protein diet—neutering or spaying is highly recommended under these circumstances.
Both dogs and cats can develop dental problems like tartar, gum disease and cavities. It’s important to monitor your pet’s dental health and invest in regular professional dental cleaning—poor oral hygiene can also lead to heart and kidney conditions. Brush your pet’s teeth from a young age so they understand that it’s a normal part of their grooming routine.
Arthritis can be diagnosed through a routine exam or X-ray. The condition, which is extremely common in older animals, may make your pet’s movements slow and painful. There is no cure for arthritis, but the condition may be managed with acupuncture and joint supplements to keep your pet as mobile as possible for as long as possible.
Flea & tick diseases
These tiny insects can carry harmful bacteria that can cause serious illnesses—like typhus and tapeworm—in both pets and their owners. In order to prevent these, use a topical flea and tick preventative, wash and inspect your pet regularly and be wary of when they spend any amount of time outdoors. While some animals will only experience itching, others may develop allergic dermatitis.
Even though this disease is completely preventable with a vaccine, it is highly contagious and dangerous—it kills more dogs than any other infectious disease. This virus—which is spread through body secretions—affects brain cells, skin, mucus membranes and the gastrointestinal tract. As puppies are at most risk, vaccination is highly recommended. Some early symptoms include fever, watery discharge from the eyes and nose, depression, loss of appetite, dry cough, vomiting and diarrhoea. The condition cannot be cured but your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotics, intravenous fluids or other types of medication to manage it.
In dogs, rabies is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is mostly spread through bites from other infected animals. A particularly serious illness, rabies can also affect humans—vaccination is absolutely crucial, especially if your pet is used to wandering around outdoors. Some symptoms include restlessness, insecurity, apprehension, insensitivity to pain, self-mutilation, sensitivity to light and snapping at imaginary objects.
Also known as ‘parvo’, this condition is one of the most contagious diseases affecting dogs. Spread mainly through faeces that contain the virus, this illness can be extremely dangerous to puppies. Although animals may not show any symptoms, parvo’s main warning signs include diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration, dark or bloody faeces and a high temperature. The only way to properly diagnose the condition is through a complete examination and blood test in a vet’s surgery. In some severe cases, hospitalisation may be required, though the disease can be treated with antibiotics, steroids and antiemetics.