Obesity is a disease which is defined by an excess of body fat. Dogs that are over nourished, lack the ability to exercise, or that have a tendency to retain weight are the most at risk for becoming obese. Obesity can result in serious adverse health effects, such as reducing the lifespan, even if your dog is only moderately obese. Multiple areas of the body are affected by excess body fat, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing capacity.
Obesity is common in dogs of all ages, but it usually occurs in middle-aged dogs, and generally in those that are between the ages of 5 and 10. Neutered and indoor dogs also tend to have a higher risk of becoming obese.
Canine degenerative myelopathy, also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy, is an incurable, progressive disease of the canine spinal cord that is similar in many ways to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Onset is typically after the age of 7 years and it is seen most frequently in the German shepherd dog, Pembroke Welsh corgi, and boxer dog, though the disorder is strongly associated with a gene mutation in SOD1 (Superoxide dismutase [Cu-Zn] also known as superoxide dismutase 1 or SOD1 is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the SOD1 gene, located on chromosome 21. SOD1 is one of three human superoxide dismutases. It is implicated in apoptosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.) that has been found in 43 breeds as of 2008, including the wire fox terrier, Chesapeake Bay retriever, Rhodesian ridgeback, and Cardigan Welsh corgi. Progressive weakness and incoordination of the rear limbs are often the first signs seen in affected dogs, with progression over time to complete paralysis. Myelin is an insulating sheath around neurons in the spinal cord. One proposed cause of degenerative myelopathy is that the immune system attacks this sheath, breaking it down. This results in a loss of communication between nerves in lower body of the animal and the brain.
A dog’s ability to move around and perform its daily activities depends on the ability of the brain, spine, nerves and muscles to coordinate in assembly. This complex communication system involves nerves in the brain sending messages about the outer environment to the body, and the body sending messages to the brain regarding what it is actually experiencing in the environment. These messages are transmitted through nerves in the spinal cord, which is embedded in the vertebral, or spinal, column. Together, the nerves in the brain and spinal cord make up the body's central nervous system. A trauma to any part of the nerve pathway can result in miscommunication or complete lack of communication to the brain or body, and an inability to coordinate the body's movements.
Canine distemper is a viral disease that affects animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Hyaenidae, Ailuridae, Procyonidae, Pinnipedia, some Viverridae and Felidae (though not domestic cats; feline distemper or panleukopenia is a different virus exclusive to cats). It is most commonly associated with domestic animals such as dogs and ferrets, although it can infect wild animals as well. It is a single-stranded RNA virus of the family paramyxovirus, and thus a close relative of measles and rinderpest. Despite extensive vaccination in many regions, it remains a major disease of dogs.
Rabies is a viral zoonotic neuroinvasive disease which causes inflammation in the brain and is usually fatal. Rabies primarily infects mammals and is caused by the rabies virus. Animals with rabies suffer deterioration of the brain and tend to behave bizarrely and often aggressively, increasing the chances that they will bite another animal or a person and transmit the disease.
Lyme Disease and More in Dogs and Cats
Protecting your cat or dog (or both) from ticks is an important part of disease prevention. In fact, there are several diseases that can be transmitted to your pet from a tick bite. Some of the most common tick-borne diseases seen in the United States are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tick paralysis. Here we will briefly discuss these and some of other tick-borne diseases that affect dogs and cats.
Dogs’ joints take a pounding, from running after tennis balls to jumping off the back deck. And for some dogs, that’s a problem. More use means more injuries and can lead to joint-related problems such as ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and osteoarthritis.
Think diabetes is just for us people? Think again. Canine diabetes mellitus (also known as sugar diabetes) is on the rise. Whether the numbers are due to an increase in dog obesity or better screening is up for debate. What’s clear is that this disease is fairly common. But the good news is, it’s also treatable and manageable.
As with humans, diabetes means the body isn’t producing enough insulin. Insulin is critical to allow glucose–a simple sugar from food–to pass into the body’s blood cells, where it’s used as fuel for metabolism. Too little glucose in the blood cells is obviously a problem.
The average age when dogs get diabetes is in the six-to-nine year range. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Keeshonds and Miniature Pinschers are more vulnerable to the disease, although all breeds can get it. Females are three times more likely than males to develop diabetes.
Diabetes can be serious. If left untreated, it can lead to cataracts, liver and bladder problems, weakness, and coma. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms and have your dog tested if you suspect diabetes.
Congenital and Developmental Renal Diseases in Cats
Congenital (existing at birth) and developmental kidney diseases are part of a group of diseases in which the kidney may be abnormal in its ability to function normally, or may be abnormal in appearance, or both. These diseases result from inherited or genetic problems or disease processes that affect the development and growth of the kidney before or shortly after birth. Most patients are less than five years of age at the time of diagnosis.