ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS IN DOGS

VetSuite Veterinarians

Edited by Andrew Hillier, BVSc, MACVSc, DACVD

In-Depth Content

Dermatology & Otic Diseases

Acute moist dermatitis, also referred to as hot spots or pyotraumatic dermatitis, is a skin condition characterized by localized, moist, erythematous areas. It is one of the most common presenting signs associated with canine skin disorders. Clinically the lesions appear to arise secondary to self-induced trauma. However, as extreme self-trauma in some dogs will not create a hot spot, while in others, minimal self-trauma can result in severe lesions, it seems apparent that other factors also contribute to the development of hot spots. It is important to be able to distinguish between pyotraumatic dermatitis and pyotraumatic folliculitis. In pyotraumatic dermatitis, the role of bacteria is unclear. If present, the bacterial infection is superficial, often considered to play a secondary role and usually controlled with topical therapy. In contrast, pyotraumatic folliculitis is caused initially by a bacterial skin infection that progresses. The clinician has to examine the lesion carefully to look for "satellite" lesions of papules or crusts (indicating Staphylococcal folliculitis), often only seen when the surrounding apparently normal area is shaved, to determine that the dog has pyotraumatic folliculitis.


DIAGNOSIS OF ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS

ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

  • Causes - Hot spots are self-induced. The exact etiology is unknown, but anything that can initiate an itch-scratch cycle may predispose a pet to this condition. The animal is generally so intensely itchy that an area is traumatized in a very short period of time; severe lesions can be induced within hours in some patients. Once the damage is started, a self-perpetuating cycle of itching and scratching/chewing is initiated.
  • Risk factors
    • Age - Young dogs seem to be predisposed.
    • Breed/genetics - Longhaired and thick-coated breeds are more often affected. Golden retrievers, Saint Bernards, Labrador retrievers, German shepherd dogs and Rottweilers seem to be predisposed.
    • Sex - No known risk
    • Geographic/environmental - Acute moist dermatitis usually occurs during the summer months during times of high temperature and high relative humidity.
    • Other medical disorders - Common underlying causes of hot spots include allergies, such as flea allergy dermatitis (most common), atopic dermatitis, food allergy, parasitic infestations such as scabies and demodicosis, otitis externa, anal sac disease, post-clipping/grooming trauma, foreign bodies and contact irritants. Rarely reported causes of hot spots include dermatophytosis, drug reactions, autoimmune disease and vasculitis.
  • Prevention - Identification of underlying causes in dogs with recurrent hot spots is essential in long-term prevention. An aggressive flea control program, especially in flea allergic dogs, and identification and specific treatment of other allergic dermatoses or parasitic infestations are highly indicated. Any other situations inducing the itch-scratch cycle (anal sac disease, clipping, foreign bodies in the hair coat etc.) should be considered and treated or avoided.

HISTORY AND CLINICAL SIGNS

  • Species affected - Dog
  • Presenting signs and historical problems - Hot spots may appear suddenly with a very rapid progression. The lesion is erythematous, swollen, alopecic, exudative, and plaque-like. The area is often painful. Crusting and matting of the hair may be present if the patient does not traumatize the area for a few hours. Pruritus is usually intense and the severe self-trauma can cause large lesions (10 cm or more) within hours.

PHYSICAL EXAMINATION FINDINGS

  • General
    • Attitude - The mental status is typically normal, but some dogs may be depressed if severely pruritic and painful.
    • Body condition - Unremarkable
    • Vital signs - The vital signs are often normal. Some dogs may have a fever.
    • Mucous membranes - Unremarkable
    • Hydration status - Most dogs are adequately hydrated.
  • Head and neck - Typical lesions are located on the lateral aspect of the face below the ear. Ear examination often reveals otitis externa, which may be acute or chronic. It is important to perform an otoscopic examination to look for foreign bodies.

  • Eyes - Unremarkable
  • Oral cavity - Unremarkable
  • Thorax (cardio-pulmonary) - Unremarkable
  • Abdomen (gastrointestinal/urinary) - Examination of the anal sacs may reveal signs of impaction, inflammation or infection.
  • Reproductive system - Unremarkable
  • Lymph nodes - Unremarkable
  • Integumentary system - Most commonly affected sites include the face on the cheek and at the base of the ear, caudal dorsal trunk, tail base and caudal and lateral thighs. Note presence of foreign bodies (e.g. grass awns, wood shavings), which may have played a causal role in the development of the hot spot. Shaving the surrounding hair coat is important in looking for satellite papules and crusts indicating pyotraumatic folliculitis.

  • Neurologic examination - Unremarkable
  • Musculoskeletal examination - Unremarkable

DIAGNOSTIC STUDIES

  • Pathology
    • Cytology (fluid or tissue) - Performed from the surface of the lesions, satellite papules if present and ear exudate if present to document presence of bacterial (usually cocci) or yeast (Malassezia sp.) infections
    • Deep skin scrapings - For demodectic mites
    • Superficial skin scrapings - For scabies mites

DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS

  • Differential diagnosis - Hot spots are rarely confused with other disorders. Determining the underlying cause, however, can be difficult. Potential underlying causes include:
    • Flea allergy
    • Foreign bodies
    • Atopy
    • Food allergy
    • Otitis externa
    • Contact irritants
    • Scabies
    • Demodex
    • Anal sac disease
    • Irritation after clipping or grooming
    • Dermatophytosis (rare)
    • Drug reaction (rare)
    • Immune mediated disease (rare)
    • Vasculitis (rare)
  • Recommended tests - Physical examination is the key to diagnosis.
  • Summary of diagnostic criteria - Diagnosis is based on the history of rapid onset and the clinical appearance.
  • Prognosis - When treated early, the prognosis is excellent. Unfortunately, if the underlying cause is not discovered and treated, recurrence is common.

TREATMENT OF ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS

TREATMENT PRINCIPLES

There are 4 key treatment principles. These include:

  • Cleaning and drying the lesion
  • Systemic anti-inflammatory treatment to stop the itch-scratch cycle
  • Systemic antibiotics if pyotraumatic folliculitis is present
  • Identification and control of the underlying disease in the case of recurrent hot spots

INITIAL/HOSPITAL THERAPY

  • The involved area should be clipped and gently cleansed with a mild antiseptic, such as chlorhexadine. Sedation or even general anesthesia may be necessary where lesions are very painful or in fractious dogs. Drying agents are then used (Burow's solution, Domeboro solution [2% aluminum acetate], or aluminum acetate with 1% hydrocortisone [CortAstrin or Dermacool HC]). These same products can be used by the owner at home for a few days until the lesion is not pruritic and is dry.
  • An initial injection of a short-acting corticosteroids, such as prednisone, dosed at 0.5 mg/kg IM, is often used. For severely affected dogs, a further 2 to 5 days of oral prednisone (0.5 mg/kg once daily) may be necessary. There is no indication for the use of long-acting repositol injectable corticosteroids.

LONG-TERM/HOME THERAPY

  • Astringent products like Domeboro can be used for the first few days to dry out the area. Antipruritic sprays containing 1% hydrocortisone, 1.5% lidocaine or 1% pramoxine may also be helpful but are short acting. These same products can be used by the owner at home for a few days until the lesion is not pruritic and is dry.
  • Interruption of the itch cycle is crucial. Once the cycle is triggered, it is usually important to stop it in order to prevent self-mutilation. A short course of oral corticosteroids is often indicated (prednisone 0.5 mg/kg for 5 days). Elizabethan collars may be indicated to prevent self-trauma.
  • In the case of pyotraumatic folliculitis, systemic antibiotic treatment is necessary to resolve the infection. In those cases, a course of antibiotic treatment may be necessary. Cephalexin (22 mg/kg BID) given for 21 days is commonly used. For pyotraumatic dermatitis, the secondary bacterial infection on the surface of the lesion can usually be controlled with the use of topical antimicrobial agents (such as chlorhexidine and benzoyl peroxide) alone for a few days until the lesion is dry and non-pruritic.
  • Identification and treatment of any underlying cause is a very important part of the treatment. Failure to identify the cause of the hot spot will result in recurrent episodes. Many cases are secondary to a flea allergy, and aggressive flea control is usually necessary.

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FOLLOW-UP CARE

Most cases resolve quickly after appropriate treatment. Those patients unresponsive to therapy or with recurrent hot spots require more extensive diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause.

 


Addison’s Disease

 

Overview


Hypoadrenocorticism, also called Addison’s disease, is an endocrine disorder that results from a deficient production of adrenal gland hormones. The most common cause of Addison’s disease is destruction of the adrenal gland tissue by the pet’s immune system. In Addison’s disease there is usually a deficiency of cortisol and a mineralocorticoid (aldosterone). Cortisol is responsible for combating stress. Aldosterone regulates the water, sodium, potassium, and chloride concentrations in the body.

Addison’s disease is an uncommon disorder in dogs and is extremely rare in cats. It is thought to be inherited in Leonbergers, standard poodles, and Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. Certain other breeds may also be predisposed, such as the Airedale, bearded collie, German shepherd dog, German shorthair pointer, Great Dane, St. Bernard, English springer spaniel, West Highland white terrier, wheaten terrier, and Portuguese water dog.

Addison’s disease most often affects young to middle-aged dogs. About 70 percent of affected dogs are female.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Addison’s disease can be difficult to diagnosis since it mimics many other diseases. It is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, bloodwork, urinalysis and an ACTH stimulation test.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with Addison’s disease are treated with cortisol and mineralocorticoid replacement therapy. Some will need fluid and electrolyte support. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst


Valvular Disease

 

Overview


Valvular heart disease (VHD) is a condition characterized by degeneration and thickening of the heart valves. Valvular heart disease is a very common and progressive disease typically seen in older dogs. Commonly affected breeds include poodles, Yorkshire terriers, schnauzers, cocker spaniels and small mixed-breed dogs. Some breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels, can be affected early in life.

VHD can cause valve malfunction, which can lead to heart enlargement or heart failure with accumulation of fluid in the lungs or the abdomen.
The essential valvular abnormalities are either increased “floppiness” of the mitral valve in the heart, or more often, shortening and thickening of this valve. The degeneration causes the valves to close improperly. Leaking of the valve causes blood to move backwards creating a heart murmur and limiting the amount of blood that can be pumped to the body.

The consequence of moderate to severe valvular heart disease is typically congestive heart failure. The symptoms of heart failure include exercise intolerance, breathing difficulties or coughing and obvious fluid accumulation in the chest cavity or the abdomen.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Valvular disease is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, chest x-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (heart ultrasound).

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with valvular disease may be treated with diuretics (furosemide), angiotension converting enzyme inhibitors (enalapril or benazepril) or digoxin. Those with mild disease may not receive any medications and just put on a salt restricted diet. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Fainting

 


Vestibular Disease

Overview


The vestibular system is primarily responsible for alerting the brain if the body is standing, sitting, lying down, falling, spinning in circles, and keeps the body balanced. The vestibular system is comprised of nerves that start in the brain and continue to the inner ear. The sensors in the inner ear are responsible for informing the brain about any movement. Vestibular disease affects the ability of the brain to recognize abnormal body positions and correct these abnormalities.

Disorders of the vestibular system are divided into central vestibular disease and peripheral vestibular disease. Central vestibular disease occurs due to an abnormality within the brain. Peripheral vestibular disease occurs due to an abnormality within the nerves of the inner ear. Most cases of vestibular disease are peripheral and no known cause is determined. These are referred to as idiopathic.

Vestibular disease typically affects older dogs with an average age of 12 to 13 years.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Vestibular disease is generally diagnosed by physical examination with a thorough ear exam and neurologic exam. Blood work is often recommended. Skull X-rays, MRI or CT scan of the brain may be beneficial.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, they underlying cause, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Many dogs with peripheral vestibular disease recover without medication. Dogs with nausea and dizziness may benefit from motion sickness medication such as meclizine. Dogs with a central lesion require treatment for the specific disease. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Falling
  • Incoordination
  • Head tilt
  • Circling
  • Rolling
  • Eyes continually drifting side to side or up and down
  • Stumbling or drunken walking

 


Allergic Dermatitis

Overview


Allergic dermatitis is a general term to describe a group of skin allergies that may be caused by a multitude of factors in dogs. The most common classes of allergic dermatitis seen in dogs are flea bite allergy, food allergy and atopy. Atopy, also called atopic dermatitis, is an allergic condition caused by inhaled allergens, or absorption of allergens through the skin

Atopy and flea bite allergy are usually seen in young adults, whereas food allergy can be seen at any age. There are a number of canine breeds predisposed to the development of atopy and some animals may be prone to development of certain allergies due to genetic factors. Allergic signs may be seasonal, depending on the cause of the allergy.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Allergic dermatitis is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, skin scrapings, skin cytology and bloodwork. Additional tests such as allergy blood tests, intradermal allergy testing and dietary trials are also beneficial.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with allergic dermatitis may be treated with special shampoos, topical medications, antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, special diet or immunotherapy. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Scratching, licking, chewing or biting skin
  • Red, raised scaly areas on the skin
  • Thickened skin
  • Loss of hair

 


 

Arthritis

Overview


Degenerative joint disease (DJD), or arthritis, affects the smooth articular cartilage of the joint, which is the covering of bone in the joints that is responsible for the smooth, non-painful motion of joints. When it becomes worn, raw bone surfaces become exposed and rub together. DJD is the result, causing pain and lack of joint mobility.

DJD can occur over a lifetime of wear or as a result of injury. Primary cartilage damage can also initiate a cascade of events that result in further cartilage damage and joint lining inflammation. This results in a vicious cycle of cartilage degeneration, release of degenerative factors and continued cartilage degeneration.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Arthritis is generally diagnosed by history, physical examination findings and x-rays of the affected legs and joints.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The majority of dogs with arthritis benefit from anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lameness
  • Swollen joints
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Dry crackling sound upon movement of the joint

 


Dementia

Overview


Dementia, also known as senility or cognitive dysfunction, is a change in behavior seen in older dogs. Some feel it may be a normal aging change, however there appears to be a substantially accelerated form of dementia seen in some dogs.

The two most common complaints of owners with senile dogs are loss of housetraining and wandering during normal sleep time.

Cognitive dysfunction is seen in male and female dogs of all breeds that are at least 10 years old or older. The problem is progressive and the cause is unknown.

Dogs with cognitive dysfunction can disrupt their family’s routine with the house soiling, vocalization, wandering, and diminished family interaction.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Dementia is generally diagnosed by history and physical examination findings. There are behaviors that are typical for dogs with dementia. To rule out underlying disorders, bloodwork and x-rays may be recommended. In some cases, CT or MRI may be beneficial.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Some dogs benefit from behavior modification exercises and some can improve on medications such as deprenyl (Anipryl). Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lameness
  • Decreased interaction with the family
  • Increased irritability
  • Slowness in obeying commands
  • Alterations in sleep-wake cycle
  • Decreased responsiveness to sensory input problems performing previously learned behaviors

 


Congestive Heart Failure

Overview


Heart failure is a condition, caused by an abnormality in the structure or the function of the heart, in which it is unable to pump normal quantities of blood to the tissues of the body. The heart is a pump, and when it fails, it often leads to fluid retention in the lung and the body cavities leading to congestive heart failure.

Dogs of any age and any breed can develop heart failure. There is a predisposition for heart failure caused by cardiomyopathy in giant canine breeds. Many older, small breed dogs develop heart failure from abnormal function of the heart valves as the valve tissue degenerates.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Congestive heart failure is generally diagnosed by chest x-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG) and an ultrasound examination of the heart (echocardiogram).

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Acute therapy may include diuretics, Nitroglycerine ointment, oxygen as well as drugs to help maintain blood pressure if needed. The majority of dogs with congestive heart failure are treated at home with a diuretic (water pill) such as furosemide (Lasix) and angiotension converting enzyme inhibitors such as enalapril or benazepril and dietary sodium restriction. Additional drugs such as Digoxin and pimobendan may also be used with certain types of disease. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficult breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

 


Epilepsy

Overview


Idiopathic epilepsy is a specific term referring to a seizure disorder that has no identifiable cause. The terms epilepsy, seizure, fit or convulsion all mean the same thing; the physical manifestation of a sudden, excessive electrical discharge of neurons in the brain that results in a series of involuntary contractions of the voluntary muscles, abnormal sensations, abnormal behaviors, or some combination of these events.

The physical manifestations of a seizure can vary with different pets from between a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to your pet falling on his side, barking, gnashing his teeth, urinating, defecating and paddling his limbs.

Seizures usually appear suddenly and end spontaneously, and can last from seconds to minutes. Idiopathic epilepsy can occur in all breeds. In some breeds, idiopathic epilepsy has been proven to be genetic. These breeds include German shepherd dogs, keeshonds, Belgian tervurens, beagles, Irish setters, Saint Bernards, poodles, wirehaired fox terriers, cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers. Epilepsy typically starts at around 2 to 5 years of age.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • There is no test that will definitively diagnose epilepsy. It is considered a diagnosis of exclusion; all tests are negative for other causes of seizures therefore it is probably epilepsy. To rule out other diseases, a thorough history, physical examination and bloodwork is performed. Additional tests may also be preformed depending on your pet and your veterinarian.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with epilepsy are commonly treated with Phenobarbital, diazepam or potassium bromide to control the seizures. Additional drugs to control seizures are being developed and may also be treatment options. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Seizures
  • Staggering
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Gnashing teeth

 


Fractures (Broken Bones)

 

Overview


A fracture is a break in a bone and can occur in any bone. Some, like spinal fractures, have a higher priority to treat. The symptoms that arise with fractures are based on the body part injured and any organ damage. Fractures are usually caused by a traumatic event; however, pathologic fractures can occur from relatively low energy events when preexisting disease such as a tumor or a metabolic bone disease like rickets weakens the bone. Some breeds are also susceptible to particular fractures based on their anatomy, conformation and use (such as hunting or racing).

Because of the trauma involved with a fracture, it is imperative that your pet be checked for concurrent traumatic injuries. Though your pet’s fracture may seem traumatic, rarely is the fracture by itself a cause for urgent surgical treatment. Your pet should first be evaluated for shock, neurological problems and injury to internal organs.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Fractures are typically diagnosed through physical examination findings and x-rays of the affected area.

  • Treatment depends on the affected bone, additional injuries, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Depending on the bone, the fracture may be temporarily stabilized with a splint or bandage. Casting and/or surgery may eventually be necessary. Additional injures should also be treated. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lameness
  • Abnormal angle of a limb
  • Painfulness
  • Paralysis
  • Extreme weakness or depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal discomfort or distention
  • Change in mental status

 


Hip dysplasia

 

Overview


Hip dysplasia is a painful, crippling disease that causes a dog’s hip to weaken, deteriorate and become arthritic. It stems from abnormal development of the hip joint – a ball-and-socket type joint – in which the head of the femur does not fit properly into the socket. Hip dysplasia can be mild and slightly disabling, or it can be severe and cause debilitating arthritis.

Hip dysplasia occurs more in males than females, and some breeds are genetically predisposed to the disease, including German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Rottweilers. Environmental factors like type of diet, weight gain and rate of growth also contribute to abnormal hip development.

By definition, hip dysplasia develops in young growing dogs. The earliest age at which clinical signs may be noticed is usually around four months, but some dogs may not show any abnormality until they are adults or even in their senior years.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Hip dysplasia is diagnosed through physical examination and hip x-rays.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Medical treatments such as weight loss, moderate exercise and anti-inflammatory medication will help to alleviate the pain and inflammation around the hip joint.

  • If medical treatment does not alleviate the pain, surgical treatment might be appropriate. Young dogs might benefit from a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). Older dogs respond favorably to two other procedures: a femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) or a total hip replacement (THR). Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Limping
  • Swaying or staggering
  • Discomfort or difficulty lying down or standing up
  • Painfulness when walking

 


Intervertebral Disc Disease

 

Overview


Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition that occurs when pressure is placed on the spinal cord by disc material that herniates beneath or adjacent to the cord. It may be an acute or chronic condition in dogs.

The exact cause of disc degeneration is unknown but may be due to a change in the content of the disc material. When the disc involved is in the mid-portion or thoracolumbar area of the spine, the front legs are not affected but the back legs may be affected to varying degrees. Signs include mild back pain only or, in severe cases, complete paralysis of the rear legs.

Some breeds are prone to intervertebral disc disease such as the dachshund, Lhasa apso and Pekingese. IVDD most commonly occurs when animals are between three and seven years of age.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Intervertebral disc disease is generally diagnosed by a thorough history and physical examination including neurologic exam. X-rays of the spine and myelogram are needed to definitively diagnose spinal cord compression.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Medical therapy consists of rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Some dogs benefit from muscle relaxants. Surgical treatment may be recommended, particularly if the signs are severe or there is no response to medical therapy. Surgery involves removing the herniated disc. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Back pain
  • Reluctance to play
  • Yelping when handled, petted or lifted
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Walking drunk
  • Inability to walk or paralysis

 


Otitis Externa

 

Overview


Otitis externa, commonly called an ear infection, is characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal and may be caused by yeast, bacteria or parasites. Ear infections are particularly prevalent in dogs with long, floppy ears. Otitis externa may affect 20 percent of dogs.

Dogs predisposed to otitis externa include those with genetic predispositions to abnormal ear canals, such as the Chinese shar-pei; breeds with hair in the ears like poodles and terriers; breeds with long floppy ears such as cocker spaniels; or outside and working dogs that are exposed to water or foreign bodies. Breeds prone to allergies are also at increased risk for ear infections, such as golden retrievers.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Otitis externa is generally diagnosed by thorough physical examination, including an ear exam and microscopic examination of the discharge from the ear, and culture of the ear discharge to determine the underlying cause and the best antibiotic.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The majority of animals with an ear infection are treated with topical ear medication. Some are also treated with oral antibiotics and possibly steroids. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Scratching or rubbing the ears
  • Head shaking or head tilt
  • Abnormal odor or discharge from the ear
  • Pain when the ear is manipulated

 


Anal Sac Disease

 

Overview


The anal sacs are glands located near the anus (rectum) that produce secretions which are normally expressed during defecation. The secretions from these glands are normally foul-smelling and straw-colored with brown flecks. The normal function of these glands is to mark territory with a unique scent. Anal sac contents may also be expressed in times of fright producing a terrible odor in the area.

Dogs are more commonly affected with anal sac disease than cats, and small breed dogs are more commonly affected with anal sac impaction than large breed dogs. Older female dogs are more commonly affected with anal sac tumors.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Anal sac disease is generally diagnosed by a thorough history and rectal examination. Bloodwork, abdominal x-rays and abdominal ultrasound may be recommended if an anal gland tumor is suspected.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with anal sac disease may be treated with anal gland expression, antibiotics, or in chronic cases or tumors, surgical removal of the glands. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Scooting
  • Frequent licking of anal area or tail base
  • Reluctance to sit or sitting asymmetrically to avoid pressure on the painful anal sac
  • Straining to defecate, difficulty defecating, production of ribbon-like stools
  • Painful swelling at the 4 o’clock or 8 o’clock locations around the anus

 


Atopy

 

Overview


Atopy is an itchy skin disease of animals that is caused by an allergy to substances in the environment that are contacted through the air, either by absorption through the respiratory tract or contact through the skin. Atopy is thought to be an inherited disease and is the second most common allergic skin condition in dogs; only flea allergy dermatitis is more common.

Symptoms of atopy usually begin relatively early in life, often by one year of age. Symptoms usually are seasonal at first, with most dogs showing clinical signs in the summer months when airborne allergens (such as plant pollens) are present in higher concentrations. As atopic dogs age, their symptoms tend to become less seasonal as they become allergic to more substances. Eventually, their itchiness can occur year-round.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Atopy is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, skin scrapings and possibly allergy testing (blood tests or intradermal testing).

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Licking or chewing at skin, especially paws
  • Scratching or rubbing muzzle and/or ears
  • Frequent head shaking
  • Red, inflamed skin

 


Bite Wounds

 

Overview


Bite wounds are often the result when two animals engage in a fight or aggressive play. Dog bites can result in significant trauma, like crushing, tearing, puncturing and lacerations of the skin and underlying tissues. Cat bites are typically puncture wounds with possible tearing or laceration. This is due to the small, sharp teeth of cats as compared to dogs.

Bite wounds, which may only appear as a small puncture wound in the skin, can actually be quite extensive. Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage.

Since the mouth is an environment filled with bacteria, all bite wounds are considered contaminated and the possibility of infection is high.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Bite wounds are typically diagnosed through physical exam and a history of a fight or rough play. Wounds are most commonly found on the neck, face and legs.

  • Treatment depends on the part of the body injured, severity of the wounds, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Bite wounds are usually painful and pain medication is often given. The risk of infection is high so antibiotics will be administered after the wounds are thoroughly cleaned and the surrounding hair and debris removed. Some wounds will require surgery and possibly placement of a drain. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Drainage
  • Limping
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Lack of appetite

 


Chocolate Toxicity

 

Overview


Chocolate, in addition to having a high fat content, contains caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic in high amounts. The levels of caffeine and theobromine vary between different types of chocolate. For example, white chocolate has the lowest concentration of stimulants and baking chocolate or cacao beans have the highest concentration.

Depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the amount eaten, various problems can occur. The high fat content in chocolate may result in vomiting and possibly diarrhea. Once toxic levels are eaten, the stimulant effect becomes apparent. Restlessness, hyperactivity, and possibly excessive panting may be seen. Heart rate and blood pressure levels may also be increased. Seizure activity may occur in severe cases.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Chocolate toxicity is generally diagnosed by a thorough history of chocolate exposure and physical examination.

  • Treatment depends on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets receiving minor amounts of chocolate may not be treated. Pets ingesting toxic amounts of chocolate are treated with fluids, medications for vomiting and sedatives. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:


  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Seizure activity

 


Chronic Ear Problems

 

Overview


Chronic ear problems are often associated with inflammation of the ear and can be caused by a number of different underlying diseases such as infections (bacterial or fungal), allergies, ear mites, endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism or tumors. The most common ear disorder is otitis externa, an inflammation of the outer ear. Dogs can also get middle and inner ear problems. In fact, most cases (over 80 percent) of chronic or relapsing otitis externa also have middle ear inflammation (otitis media). This results from chronic inflammation of the external part of the ear canal, rupture of the tympanic membrane (ear drum) and establishment of infection in the middle part of the ear.

Chronic ear inflammation stimulates the proliferation of the skin lining the ear canal. As a consequence, thickening of the canal occurs and leads to narrowing of the canal. More importantly the skin is thrown into numerous folds, and this inhibits effective cleaning and the application of medications. These folds act as a site for the perpetuation and protection of secondary micro-organisms like bacteria. Long term treatment is necessary to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic ear problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Chronic ear problems are generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination and complete ear exam including cytology. Culture and sensitivity of the ear discharge is often performed to determine the type of bacteria present and to help select the most appropriate antibiotic.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with chronic ear problems are treated with antibiotics, both topically and orally, anti-fungal drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs and ear cleanings. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Head shaking or scratching at ears
  • Foul odor from ears
  • Ear discharge
  • Head tilt

 


Chronic Kidney Failure

 

Overview


Chronic renal (kidney) failure (CRF) is a common problem in all dog breeds. The digestion of food produces waste products, which are carried by blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products, and toxins build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease.

All breeds of any age can be affected. However, older pets are commonly affected as the prevalence increases with age. The average age of diagnosis in dogs is seven years.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Chronic kidney failure is generally diagnosed by physical examination, biochemical tests and urinalysis.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment for chronic kidney failure includes fluid therapy to correct dehydration, dietary therapy with protein restriction and medications to help counter potassium and phosphorus imbalances. Some animals may benefit from treatment for anemia. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination when walking
  • Depression

 


Colitis

 

Overview


Colitis is an inflammation of the colon (large intestine). It may be acute, with sudden onset and short duration, or chronic, that is present for at least two to three weeks or exhibiting a pattern of episodic recurrence.

There are many potential causes of colitis such as inflammatory disorders, infections (bacterial, viral), diet, food allergies, cancer, trauma, pancreatitis, etc.

There is no age or gender association with colitis. One exception is histiocytic ulcerative colitis, which most often affects young boxer dogs.

Most often, colitis causes some combination of fresh bright red blood in the stool, mucus in the stool, straining to defecate, and increased frequency of defecation, often many times per day. With acute colitis, the dog usually does not show signs of systemic illness, but dogs with chronic colitis can experience clinically important weight loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Colitis is generally diagnosed by microscopic fecal examination, bloodwork, abdominal x-rays, history and physical examination findings. In some cases, special blood tests to evaluate the function of the pancreas or colonoscopy with biopsies may be recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Many pets respond favorably to dietary modification. Some are treated with de-wormers, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications or drugs that affect the motility of the gastrointestinal tract. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Loose stool
  • Diarrhea with blood
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy

 


Corneal Ulcers

 

Overview


Corneal ulcers occur when the outermost layer of the surface of the eye (cornea) erodes. This can be due to scratches, burns or drying out of the eye due to reduced tear production or inability to normally blink the eye. Exposure to chemicals, heat, smoke or infections can also cause ulcers of the cornea.

Corneal ulceration can affect any animal; however, those breeds of dogs with more prominent eyes and larger eyelid openings are at increased risk (pugs, Pekingese, shih tzus, etc.). Some older animals may heal more slowly and, therefore, have ulcers that may be more difficult to treat.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Corneal ulcers are generally diagnosed by a thorough eye examination and fluorescein staining of the cornea. The stain is taken up by the ulcer and will fluoresce green when examined with a black light.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Corneal ulcers are often treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment and atropine to dilate the pupil and reduce pain. Many affected pets will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing or scratching at the eye while it heals. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Squinting
  • Rubbing at the eye
  • Increased tearing
  • Mucus or pus draining from the eye
  • Cloudiness of the cornea
  • Inflamed, red conjunctiva (the normally pink tissue surrounding the cornea and lining the eyelids)

 


Cushing’s Disease

 

Overview


Hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease is a disorder resulting from overactive adrenal tissue, which produces excessive amounts of cortisone. Cortisone and related substances are essential hormones of the body, but when produced in excessive amounts these substances may cause systemic illness.

In most pets, the cause of the disease is a tumor of the pituitary gland. The tumor produces a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands to grow larger and produce excess amounts of cortisone. In other pets, the cause is a tumor of the adrenal gland itself.

Cushing’s disease usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs with most affected dogs being over 9 years of age. Both males and females are affected. The most commonly affected breeds include poodles, dachshunds, miniature schnauzers, and German shepherds. Boxers and Boston terriers are prone to development of Cushing’s disease caused by pituitary tumors.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Cushing’s disease is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, bloodwork and tests of the adrenal hormones (stimulation or suppression tests). X-rays of the chest and abdomen, urinalysis, and abdominal ultrasound may be recommended. In some situations, a CT or MRI may be of benefit to differentiate a pituitary tumor from an adrenal tumor.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with Cushing’s disease due to a pituitary tumor are treated with medical therapy such as mitotane or ketoconazole. Dogs with Cushing’s disease due to an adrenal tumor may be treated with surgical removal of the adrenal tumor or treated medically with mitotane or ketoconazole. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Abdominal distention (pot-bellied appearance)
  • Hair loss

 


Degenerative Myelopathy

 

Overview


Degenerative myelopathy is a slow, progressive spinal cord disorder of unknown cause that is most commonly seen in aging German shepherds and a few other large breed dogs such as Belgian shepherds, Rhodesian ridgeback, collies and Weimaraners. There is currently no cure for degenerative myelopathy. Most dogs slowly deteriorate over 6 to 12 months becoming progressively weaker and more uncoordinated in the rear legs.

The cause of the condition is unknown, although it is believed to be an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system begins to attack its own nerve cells. The age of onset is 5 to 14 years, with an average age of 9 years. Males are affected more than females.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Degenerative myelopathy is generally diagnosed by a thorough history and physical examination including a neurologic exam. Sometime x-rays or a spinal tap are recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. There is no specific therapy for dogs with degenerative myelopathy. Some dogs can be helped with steroids, vitamins and other supplements. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Difficulty rising
  • Stumbling
  • Knuckling of the toes
  • Loss of muscle in the rear legs
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence

 


Demodicosis

 

Overview


Demodicosis, or red mange, is a common skin disease of dogs caused by a microscopic mite called Demodex canis. These mites are part of the normal flora of the skin, and are present in small numbers, so the disease is not contagious. In predisposed individuals the mites increase in number causing clinical disease.

Demodicosis can be localized to a few areas of the skin or generalized, affecting the majority of the body. The localized form of demodicosis generally affects dogs less than one year of age. The generalized form can affect dogs as juveniles or adults. The adult onset form has a poorer prognosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Demodicosis is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, and skin scrapings. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with localized demodicosis may just be monitored. If the disease progresses or generalized demodicosis is diagnosed, treatment may include prescription medications. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:


  • Scratching or rubbing
  • Hair loss
  • Crusts and sores on skin
  • Red, inflamed skin

 


Diabetes Mellitus

 

Overview


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic condition in which a deficiency of the hormone insulin impairs the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. It is one of the most common endocrine (hormonal) diseases of dogs.

There are two types of diabetes mellitus. Type I DM occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. This can be the result of destruction of the cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. Type II DM occurs when enough insulin is produced but something interferes with it’s ability to be utilized by the body. Dogs nearly always have the type I variety.

DM usually affects middle-aged to older dogs of either sex. Any breed can be affected.

DM leads to an inability of the tissue to utilize glucose. Disease occurs from high blood sugar levels, inadequate delivery of sugar to the tissues and changes in the body metabolism.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Diabetes Mellitus is generally diagnosed by blood and urine tests.
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment generally consists of insulin injections that are given one to two times daily for the rest of your pet’s life or for as long as the condition lasts. Oral medications can be used in some cats with this condition. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Weight loss despite a good appetite
  • Sudden blindness
  • If your pet does not eat
  • If you pet is vomiting or acts lethargic

 


Dilated Cardiomyopathy

 

Overview


Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease characterized by dilation or enlargement of the heart chambers and markedly reduced contraction. The left ventricle is almost always involved. Advanced cases demonstrate dilation of all cardiac chambers.

DCM is very common in dogs, representing one of the most common reasons for congestive heart failure (CHF). This heart disease also can cause heart valve leakage resulting in heart murmurs or abnormal electrical activity of the heart—producing arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heartbeats). Large and giant breed dogs, especially males, are predisposed. Doberman pinschers, Irish wolfhounds, Great Danes and Saint Bernards are typical examples. Spaniel breeds also develop DCM.

The clinical condition of canine DCM can range from overtly healthy (occult disease) to severe heart failure. Some dogs experience primary electrical disturbances (arrhythmia) such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia which can lead to sudden death.

DCM is very serious and the mortality rate, even of treated cases, is very high.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination, chest x-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with dilated cardiomyopathy are treated with diuretics (furosemide and/or spironolactone), angiotension converting enzyme inhibitors (enalapril or benazapril), carvedilol or metoprolol, pimobendan, and/or digoxin. Other medications and a sodium-restricted diet may be beneficial. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Coughing
  • Breathing problems or shortness of breath
  • Collapse
  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance

 


Distemper

 

Overview


Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV). It may affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurologic systems and is generally transmitted through contact with mucous and watery secretions discharged from the eyes and noses of infected dogs. However, it can also be transmitted by contact with urine and other bodily fluids, so your dog may become infected without coming into contact with an infected dog. Air currents and inanimate objects can also carry the virus.

Distemper was a common infection in dogs many years ago, but the incidence has been significantly decreased through widespread vaccination. Canine distemper is now most commonly seen in young, unvaccinated or immune-compromised dogs. More than 50 percent of dogs that contract the disease die from it. Even if a dog doesn’t die, canine distemper can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system, leaving the dog with partial or total paralysis, seizures or persistent tics.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Distemper can be difficult to diagnose. A thorough history, physical examination, bloodwork, chest x-rays, evaluation of cells from the underside of the eyelid and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) taps may be performed. The measurement of distemper antibody titers in the blood may also be recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with distemper are treated with supportive care since there is no treatment that kills the virus. Affected dogs may receive fluids, antibiotics, seizure control medication, and medication to alleviate the various symptoms that develop. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Involuntary muscle tremors or tics

 


Ehrlichiosis

 

Overview


Ehrlichiosis is a tick-born disease of dogs characterized by fever, lethargy, lameness and/or bleeding tendencies. It is caused by one of several rickettsial organisms that belong to the genus, Ehrlichia. Ehrlichia canis (E. canis) is the primary causative agent in dogs.

The disease is spread predominantly by the brown dog tick in the United States and is much more common in the dog than in the cat. It can be seen in any age dog, although it is seen most commonly in middle-aged animals. Purebred dogs, especially German shepherd dogs, appear to be more susceptible than crossbred dogs.

The impact on the affected individual can vary from very mild clinical signs to severe, life threatening disease. Several different stages of the disease are possible. Subclinical, asymptomatic infection may occur and may persist for months or years. Acute clinical signs may develop in some dogs and resolve spontaneously or with treatment. Acute infections may also develop into chronic infections that produce more severe clinical signs.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Ehrlichiosis is generally diagnosed by a serologic test to detect ehrlichia antibodies in the blood.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment for ehrlichiosis such as doxycycline, tetracycline or oxytetracycline. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lethargy, depression
  • Anorexia, weight loss
  • Fever
  • Spontaneous bleeding from any part of the body (urine, stool, nose)
  • Bruising or small hemorrhages in the skin, gums, lips or around the eyes
  • Neurologic signs (poor balance, difficulty walking, tremors, seizures)
  • Squinting and inflammation of the eye, decreased vision
  • Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes)
  • Swollen and inflamed joints

 


Entropion

 

Overview


Entropion is an inward rolling of the eyelid edges with the eyelashes causing trauma to the surface of the eye (cornea). This is a common eye problem and can be present soon after birth or acquired later in life. It most commonly affects the lower eyelids.

Entropion that is considered to be inherited usually develops within a few months of birth. It occurs in a wide variety of purebred dogs, including the chow chow, English bulldog, Irish setter, Labrador retriever, St. Bernard, Chinese shar-pei, golden retriever, Great Dane, and Chesapeake Bay retriever.

Entropion may also develop later in life secondary to other changes around the eye. It can arise from spasm and pain associated with corneal and other eye diseases. It may occur when the eye itself moves backwards into the orbit (enophthalmos), or when the eye becomes shrunken following a severe injury or infection. Occasionally entropion develops following loss of normal neurologic function of the eyelids.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Entropion is generally diagnosed with a thorough history and physical examination, including a thorough eye exam. The corneas are often stained to determine if corneal ulcers are present.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with entropion require surgery. The extent of the surgery will vary depending on the severity of the entropion, underlying eye disease and the age and breed of the pet. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Tearing
  • Squinting
  • Rubbing eye
  • Mucoid or thick discharge from the eyes
  • Rolling of the eyelid and wetness on the hairs adjacent to the eyelids

 


Ethylene Glycol Toxicity

 

Overview


Ethylene glycol toxicosis is a type of poisoning that occurs after ingestion of antifreeze or other fluids containing the ingredient ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is metabolized in the animal’s body to several extremely toxic chemicals that are responsible for its potentially lethal effects. Without treatment, ethylene glycol toxicity is most often fatal.

Ethylene glycol affects the nervous system and causes severe kidney failure with almost complete cessation of urine output. Definitive treatment should be started as soon as possible after consumption of ethylene glycol (within a few hours). If treated promptly and appropriately, pets that have consumed ethylene glycol will not develop kidney failure and have a good chance of survival.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Ethylene glycol toxicity is generally diagnosed with a thorough history and physical examination, bloodwork, urinalysis and an ethylene gycol test. In some cases, a kidney biopsy may be necessary.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with ethylene glycol toxicity are generally treated with drugs that may induce vomiting if the ingestion was recent, activated charcoal, fluids, and medication aimed at reducing the toxicity of the ethylene glycol. The drugs most commonly used to reduce the effects of ethylene glycol are ethanol or 4-methylpyrazole. Dogs with acute kidney failure require more extensive therapy including dialysis. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Increased thirst and increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling and staggering (acting drunk)
  • Coma

 


False Pregnancy

 

Overview


False pregnancy (pseudocyesis) is a term used to describe the behavior and physical signs of pregnancy when they occur in a non-pregnant animal. The signs of false pregnancy usually occur 6 to 12 weeks after the pet's last heat cycle. It is caused by hormonal changes. This condition is common in dogs but rare in cats.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • False pregnancy is generally diagnosed by proving the animal is not truly pregnant. This is done with a thorough history and physical examination, abdominal x-rays and possibly an abdominal ultrasound.

  • Most pets with false pregnancy do not require treatment. Typically, the pet will spontaneously return to normal within 2 to 3 weeks. Spaying will prevent future occurrences but will not eliminate the signs of the current false pregnancy. Discuss treatment details with your veterinarian when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Nesting behavior
  • Mothering activity
  • Mammary gland enlargement

 


Flea Allergy

 

Overview


Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs and cats. It is caused by flea bites, specifically skin reactions from the saliva of the flea. It is a very itchy disease and predisposes to the development of secondary skin infections.

Oddly enough, most animals with flea allergy have very few fleas – because they are so itchy, they groom themselves excessively, eliminating any evidence of fleas. However, a couple of flea bites every two weeks are sufficient to make a flea allergic dog itchy all the time. Any animal can become allergic to fleas, although some pets are more attractive to fleas than others.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Flea allergy is generally diagnosed with a thorough history and physical examination, and seeing fleas on the animal. If no fleas are seen and the animal has a positive response to flea control, flea allergy can be diagnosed.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with flea allergy must be treated with flea preventative. Skin infections are treated with antibiotics and the intense itching may be treated with antihistamines or corticosteroids. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

  • Prevention: The most important part of treatment is preventing flea bites with aggressive flea control on your pet and in the environment.

What to Watch for*:


  • Severe itching
  • Chewing and biting the tail, rump, back legs
  • Oozing lesions from chewing

 


Food Allergy

 

Overview


Food allergy is an uncommon problem in dogs and it can start at any age. A change in diet is not necessary for development of food allergy. About 70 percent of affected pets develop allergies to food ingredients that they have been fed for a long time, usually more than two years.


Food ingredients most commonly responsible for allergies are beef, chicken, fish, eggs and milk. Dogs with other allergies like inhalant allergies or atopy may be at increased risk for developing a food allergy.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Food allergy is generally diagnosed by an elimination food trial. The pet is fed a special food for 8 to 12 weeks to see if signs resolve.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The primary treatment is to avoid the offending food or ingredient. Up to 80% of affected dogs are benefited from a special diet. Other treatments include antihistamines and antibiotics or antifungals to treat secondary infections. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Itchy skin, especially around the face, paws and ears
  • Bad skin odor
  • Excessive scaling
  • Red bumps or papules
  • Ear infections
  • Self-inflicted skin trauma resulting from severe itching
  • Diarrhea and vomiting, although most dogs with food allergy only develop skin problems

 


Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

 

Overview


Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), often referred to as “bloat,” is a serious condition caused by abnormal dilatation and twisting of the stomach. The condition is initiated by abnormal accumulation of air, fluid or foam in the stomach (gastric dilatation). The stomach then twists on its axis (gastric volvulus), obstructing emptying of the stomach or burping. The return of blood from the veins of the abdomen may also be obstructed, leading to low blood pressure, shock and associated complications.

GDV is most common in deep-chested or large to giant breed dogs. GDV can also occur in other breeds, but this is uncommon.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Gastric dilatation volvulus is diagnosed through physical examination and abdominal x-rays.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Initial treatment includes emergency care of shock with intravenous fluids, drug therapy and decompression of the stomach. Surgery is the recommended treatment to untwist and stabilize the stomach. To prevent recurrence, the stomach must be attached to the abdominal wall, known as gastropexy. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal distention
  • Nonproductive vomiting or retching
  • Weakness

 


Giardia

 

Overview


Giardia is a protozoan parasite found all over the world. It infects humans, many domestic animals and birds. Giardia lives in the intestinal tract and infection may be asymptomatic or can result in gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common signs are diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and excessive gas.

Giardia infections (called Giardiasis) show no gender or breed predilection but are most common in young animals and in animals under close confinement, such as those in kennels, animal shelters and pet stores.

Most cases of Giardia infection in humans arise from person-to-person contact or from contaminated water, but animals do harbor strains of Giardia that are infectious to humans and animal-to-human transmission theoretically is possible.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Giardia is generally diagnosed by microscopic examination of a fresh fecal sample. In some cases a special fecal test (ELISA) can be performed.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The most common drug used to combat Giardia is metronidazole but fenbendazole or other medications can also work. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Flatulence (excessive gas)

 


Heartworm Disease

 

Overview


Canine heartworm disease is caused by the worm Dirofilaria immitis that lives in the blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. The presence of these worms causes strain to the heart and an intense reaction in the blood vessels. This parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes. For this reason, heartworm disease is more common in warm, humid areas of the world.

Outdoor dogs are predisposed and male dogs may be more likely to develop infection than females. The most important predisposing factor is failure to receive heartworm preventative medication. All dogs living in an area where heartworm disease exists are at risk, even if they live entirely indoors.

Impact on the pet is variable. Dogs can be without symptoms if the infection is light or has occurred recently. In some cases, heartworm disease can cause severe debilitation and eventually may be fatal.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Heartworm disease is generally diagnosed by physical examination and blood tests. Chest x-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG) and blood work are done to determine the severity of the disease. Sometimes, an ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) is recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Heartworms are treated in stages. The adult worms are most commonly killed with melarsomine. After a short period of time, the baby heartworms are then killed with a different medication. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

  • Prevention: Prevention of heartworm disease should be undertaken in all dogs. These include monthly and daily preventatives.

What to Watch for*:


  • Coughing (sometimes with blood)
  • Heavy breathing
  • Unwillingness to exercise
  • Collapse
  • Signs of right sided congestive heart failure, which includes fluid distention of the belly

 


Hemangiosarcoma

 

Overview

Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant cancer of the cells that form blood vessels. Because these tumors start in blood vessels, they are frequently filled with blood. Consequently, when a blood-filled tumor ruptures, it can cause problems with internal or external bleeding. Hemangiosarcoma is considered to be a very aggressive tumor and can spread rapidly to other organs. Despite intensive treatment, many animals with hemangiosarcoma succumb a few months after diagnosis.

Hemangiosarcoma is more common in dogs than in cats. It usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs 9 to 11 years of age, and German shepherds appear to be predisposed to developing this cancer.

The most common primary location of this cancer in dogs is the spleen. Other primary locations include the heart, liver, skin, and bone; however, it can start in any location where blood vessels are present. These tumors usually spread to the lungs, liver, spleen and heart.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Hemangiosarcoma is generally diagnosed by biopsy of a mass. However, bloodwork, x-rays of the chest and abdomen and ultrasound of the heart and abdomen can lead to a suspicion of hemangiosarcoma.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Anemic animals should receive a blood transfusion. For animals with blood accumulating around the heart, a tap should be performed to remove some of the blood. Surgery is recommended to try to remove any abdominal tumor. In some cases, radiation or chemotherapy may be attempted. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Anemia, weakness and collapse
  • Pale or white gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Fluid build-up of the abdomen

 


Ibuprofen Toxicity

 

Overview


Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. For dogs and cats, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner trying to alleviate pain in his pet who administers a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose.

The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually leads to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Ibuprofen toxicity is generally diagnosed by a history of exposure and physical examination findings. Bloodwork is done to determine if substantial kidney damage has occurred.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. If ingestion was recent, activated charcoal may be given. Anti-ulcer medication such as sucralfate, Pepcid or Zantac are given. Pets with anemia due to bleeding ulcers may benefit from a blood transfusion. Fluid therapy is very important in pets with kidney damage. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Black tarry stools
  • Vomiting blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

 


Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia

 

Overview


Immune mediated anemia (IMHA) is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and kills the body’s own red blood cells. The attack begins when antibodies attach to and target the animal’s own red blood cells for destruction.

The causes of IMHA remain largely unknown. While some cases of IMHA may be associated with a triggering event (cancer, infection, and perhaps even vaccinations), these events do not explain why the immune system misdirects its arsenal of weapons against the animal it is meant to protect.

IMHA occurs more often in dogs than in cats, in middle-aged animals (3 to 8 years old), and in females rather than males. While any breed can be affected, certain breeds develop IMHA more often than others do, such as the cocker spaniel, springer spaniel, poodle and Old English sheepdog.

IMHA is a rapidly life-threatening disease. Even with appropriate treatment, this disease can be fatal.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • IMHA is generally diagnosed by bloodwork and a specialized blood test called a Coomb’s test. A slide agglutination test can also be performed. X-rays, ultrasound and/or more specialized blood tests may be recommended to look for an underlying cause of the disease.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. If an underlying cause is determined, appropriate treatment should be started. In addition, affected animals are treated with drugs to suppress the immune system such as steroids. Some animals need fluid therapy and blood transfusions. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Pale gums
  • Yellow tinged gums or whites of the eyes
  • Dark or dark yellow urine
  • Tiring easily, weakness
  • Lethargy

 


Intestinal Parasites

 

Overview


A parasite is a plant or animal that lives upon or within another living organism. They can be either internal or external parasites – living primarily on the skin (fleas), in the respiratory tract (lungworms), in the gastrointestinal tract (roundworms) or in the blood vessels and heart (heartworms).

Some gastrointestinal parasites are very small and the only way to diagnose them is by microscopic examination of feces for the eggs shed by the adult worms. Others are large enough to be observed in your dog’s bowel movements or after he vomits. Some tapeworms produce proglottids, which can be seen around the hair on the anus or in the stool, appearing as bits of moving “white rice.”

Among the important gastrointestinal parasites of dogs and cats are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and microscopic parasites Coccidia, Giardia and Strongyloides species.

Intestinal parasites are most often obtained by ingesting worm eggs. They are most common in puppies but can affect any age, sex or breed of dog or cat. Most cause either no signs of illness or gastrointestinal signs. Some worms, such as hookworms, ingest blood so severely affected animals may become lethargic and anemic.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Intestinal parasites are generally diagnosed by microscopic examination of a fresh fecal sample.

  • Treatment depends on the type of parasite, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Most dogs respond well to treatment with medications directed at killing the specific parasite. If debilitated, the affected dog or cat may require fluid therapy or possibly a blood transfusion. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss

 


Kennel Cough

 

Overview


Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchial tree caused by a contagious virus (adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, canine distemper virus) or bacterium (Bordetella bronchiseptica). The infectious agents can be transmitted through the air or by contact with contaminated surfaces. Puppies and young dogs are at greatest risk, especially those housed in high-density situations or boarding kennels.

The incubation period from the time the dog first contracts the infection to the time that symptoms develop is typically between 3 to 10 days, and the symptoms can last for days to weeks. Many dogs will have a mild to moderate cough without other signs, which is usually self-limiting. In some cases, the cough lingers and the dog may develop pneumonia or chronic bronchitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Diagnosis is often made based on clinical signs and excluding other diseases. Upon examination, the windpipe is often sensitive to palpation and may elicit a cough. Chest x-rays are usually normal.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. For mild cases, the dog usually recovers with no treatment. For others, cough suppressants and sometimes antibiotics are prescribed to prevent secondary infections. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Excessive dry cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Breathing difficulty
  • If your pet does not eat
  • If you pet is vomiting or acts lethargic

 


Keratoconjuctivitis Sicca

 

Overview


Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a Latin medical term used to describe a condition of decreased tear production. The term technically means “inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva from drying.” When the watery part of the tears is not produced in adequate amounts, the eye becomes chronically inflamed, and scarring and pigmentation of the cornea may lead to decrease vision. Another commonly used term to describe this disease is “dry eye.”

Numerous dog breeds are at risk for developing KCS including the West Highland white terrier, English bulldog, pug, shih tzu, American cocker spaniel, Lhasa apso and Pekingese.

If left untreated, KCS is a potentially vision threatening disease. It may lead to painful corneal ulcerations in the acute stage of the disease. In chronic KCS, vision may be impaired because of scarring of the cornea.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is generally diagnosed by physical examination findings, a Schirmer tear test to determine the amount of tears produced and fluorescein staining of the eye to detect any underlying corneal ulcers.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Most dogs with KCS benefit from cyclosporine ointment applied daily to the eyes. Some dogs are prescribed artificial tear ointment or solution or antibiotic eye medication. Keeping the eye lubricated is crucial. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Chronic redness of the eye
  • Chronic thick, yellow-green discharge, especially in the morning
  • Development of a film over the cornea
  • Decreased vision in predisposed breeds

 


Leptospirosis

 

Overview


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that can pass from animals to humans. It is a bacterial disease that damages the liver and kidneys of dogs, sometimes resulting in renal failure and death. It is caused by a spirochete (spiral shaped bacterium) called a leptospire.

Leptospires live in fluids from infected animals, including urine, saliva, blood and milk. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with the fluids or with an infected animal. It is also transmitted by indirect contact such as vegetation, food and water, soil and bedding materials. Leptospires enter the body through mucous membranes or through breaks in the skin. The disease may be carried for years in animals without any apparent symptoms of the disease.

Any age, breed or sex of dog is susceptible to leptospirosis, although in general, young animals are more severely affected than adults. Large breed outdoor adult dogs are most commonly affected.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Leptospirosis is generally diagnosed by bloodwork, including a leptospirosis serologic test to detect leptospiral antibodies. In some cases, a kidney biopsy is necessary to make or confirm the diagnosis.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Dogs diagnosed with leptospirosis are treated with antibiotics such as penicillin or tetracycline. Those with kidney failure are also treated with fluid therapy and other medications. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Chills and fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Generalized muscle tenderness
  • Dehydration
  • Blood in the vomit or stool, bloody nose or widespread bruising
  • Jaundice
  • Labored breathing or coughing
  • Sudden lack of production of urine

 


Lick Granuloma

 

Overview


Lick granuloma is a common condition observed in large, active dogs in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed. These lesions are prone to infections, which make them itchier and itchier, which then leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of itching and licking.

Many underlying diseases are responsible for this condition. It could be caused by psychological and behavioral factor or by skin and internal diseases. Allergies, endocrine disease, parasitic, bacterial and fungal diseases may cause lick granulomas. Interestingly, allergy to flea bites may also be a cause. Aggressive flea control is recommended in flea-sensitive individuals. In other cases, a change in the environment, a stressful situation or a change in the work schedule of the owner could be the trigger.

Sometimes the granuloma occurs in an area of a previous trauma like a fracture and that may be triggered by an abnormal sensation in the skin. In other cases, the excessive licking may be a sign of pain. Arthritis may be evident in the underlying joint.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Lick granuloma is generally diagnosed by history and physical examination findings. Skin scrapings, biopsies and cultures may be recommended to help determine the underlying cause.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. For suspected behavioral problems, anti-anxiety or other behavior modification medications may be prescribed. Long term antibiotics and discouraging licking are important. Some pets benefit from Elizabethan collars. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Skin lumps with ulcerations
  • Excessive licking of the same area

 


Lipoma

 

Overview


Lipoma is a benign fatty tumor usually composed of mature fat cells. They are usually soft, well defined, and under the skin. Lipomas are variable in size and shape and may occur anywhere, although they are commonly found on the under surfaces of the chest and abdomen.

All breeds may be affected, but they are most common in older animals, especially older female dogs. Lipomas are very common in dogs, and less common in cats.

Infiltrative lipomas are those that develop in deeper tissue and between muscle layers. These lipomas tend to be firmer and more broad-based than typical lipomas. These tumors also grow slowly, but are more invasive and less well defined. They grow by expanding into the tissue and may cause pain. Infiltrative lipomas are much less common than typical lipomas.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Lipoma is generally diagnosed by fine needle aspirate and microscopic examination of the cells. In some cases, biopsy is recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. In most cases, lipomas are left alone and monitored. If the lipoma is growing rapidly, causing discomfort, or interfering with mobility, surgical removal may be recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Skin lumps or bumps
  • Non painful skin swellings
  • Difficulty walking

 


Lumbosacral Disease

 

Overview


Lumbo-sacral disease is a term used to describe compression of the nerve roots and spinal cord as they pass through the lumbo-sacral portion of the lower spine, which is the lower back near the hips.

There are a variety of causes of lumbo-sacral disease. It can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (developed after birth); thus, dogs may show clinical signs at any age. Lumbo-sacral disease is most common in large breed dogs, particularly German shepherds.

The disease is characterized by marked back pain, which can become excruciating and severely debilitating, and hind leg weakness. Because the nerves that supply the bladder, rectum and anus pass through this region, urinary and fecal incontinence can result.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Lumbosacral disease is generally diagnosed by a thorough physical examination including a neurologic and orthopedic exam and x-rays of the spine. In some cases, an electromyogram, myelography or CT/MRI may be suggested.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Medial management consists of rest, anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics. If medical therapy is not effective, surgery may be necessary. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Pain when lying down and getting up
  • Reluctance to move
  • Worn nails
  • Inappropriate urination

 


Lyme Disease

 

Overview


Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by a microscopic organism, the spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, and is spread by ticks. The bacteria normally feed on small mammals, especially mice. Ticks then feed on the mammals and carry the bacteria to their victims. The deer tick is the most common tick involved in spreading the disease, although other ticks can pass it along, too. Ticks capable of spreading Lyme disease are most commonly found in the eastern United States, the upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. Lyme disease can affect different organs and body systems. The disease is named because of the initial discovery in human beings that occurred in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut.

Lyme disease is most common in dogs but has been reported in other species. There appears to be no breed or sex predisposition. Outside, hunting and working dogs are more likely to be exposed to ticks than dogs kept indoors. Puppies appear to have a higher risk, and it is thought that less than five percent of dogs exposed to Lyme disease in an endemic (prone) area may develop clinical signs.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Lyme disease is generally diagnosed by blood tests for Lyme disease titers or a Western blot blood test. Analysis of joint fluid may also be done to rule out other causes of lameness.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline, cephalexin or amoxicillin. Antibiotics are typically continued for up to 4 weeks. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Recurrent lameness in a joint with complete recovery
  • Reluctance to move (pain)
  • Swelling in one or more joints
  • Anorexia
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

 


Lymphosarcoma/Lymphoma

 

 

Overview


Lymphosarcoma (lymphoma) is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system. In a healthy animal, the lymphoid system is an important part of the body’s defense against infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. Lymphoid tissue normally is found in many different parts of the body including lymph nodes, liver, spleen, gastrointestinal tract and skin. Lymphosarcoma is classified according to the location in the body in which the cancer begins.

In dogs, the most common form of lymphosarcoma is the multicentric form (80 percent of all dogs with lymphoma have this form). Frequently, owners notice lumps under the neck or in other locations. These lumps represent the enlarged lymph nodes. In cats, the most common form is the gastrointestinal form. Signs are vague and include lethargy, inappetance and vomiting.

Lymphosarcoma occurs in middle-aged to older pets. Breeds of dogs that are at a higher than average risk of developing this disease include Rottweilers, Scottish terriers, Golden retrievers, Basset hounds, and German shepherds. There are no predisposed cat breeds. Males and females are affected equally.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Lymphoma is generally diagnosed by fine needle aspirate and microscopic examination of enlarged lymph nodes, biopsy of lumps or enlarged lymph nodes or by endoscopy and biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The most common treatment for lymphoma is chemotherapy. Sometimes radiation therapy and/or surgery can be beneficial. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


· Enlargement of external lymph nodes

· Vomiting

· Diarrhea

· Loss of appetite

· Weight loss

· Difficulty breathing

· Increased thirst or urinations


Mammary Gland Tumors

 

Overview


Mammary gland tumors are a type of cancer that arises from breast tissues. About 50 percent of these tumors are malignant, which means they can spread, and 50 percent are benign and do not spread.

The cause of mammary tumors is not well understood. Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone play an elusive role in the development and progression of these tumors. They occur in both intact and spayed dogs and it is the most common cancer of female dogs. Mammary gland tumors occur most commonly in females; they are rare in males.

The average age that pets develop these tumors is 10 to 12 years of age. Dog breeds that appear to be at increased risk are poodles, terrier breeds, cocker spaniels, and German shepherd dogs. Spaying pets early in life will significantly decrease the risk of developing mammary gland tumors later in life.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Mammary gland tumor is generally diagnosed by biopsy or fine needle aspirate of the mass and chest x-rays. Bloodwork, abdominal x-rays and abdominal ultrasound may be recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The surgical removal of the mass and associated mammary tissue (mastectomy) is recommended. Un-spayed pets should be spayed. In pets with a malignant tumor, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or anti-estrogen therapy may be recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Masses or lumps within the mammary glands
  • Bruising of the skin over the mammary glands
  • Ulceration (open wounds) on the mammary glands
  • Bleeding of the skin associated with growth of the masses
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Lack of ability to exercise
  • Lack of appetite

 


Canine Mast Cell Tumor

 

Overview


Mast cell tumors arise most commonly in the skin. They develop from a normal component of body tissues called the mast cell that play a role in the process of tissue repair by releasing inflammatory mediators. Malignant mast cell tumors can spread to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. Mast cell tumors are among the most common tumors of dogs, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all skin tumors. The cause of mast cell tumors is unknown.

Dogs that develop mast cell tumors often are older (usually 8 to 9 years of age), although they can occur in dogs of all ages. The most commonly affected breed are bulldogs but Labrador retrievers, Chinese shar peis and Bernese mountain dogs seem to have an increased risk.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Mast cell tumor is generally diagnosed by needle aspiration and microscopic examination of the cells. Biopsy of a mass is also diagnostic. Once diagnosed or suspected, dogs with mast cell tumor should have chest and abdominal x-rays and possibly abdominal ultrasound looking for spread of the tumor. Biopsy of regional lymph nodes and aspirate of the spleen would also be beneficial.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Surgical removal of skin tumors is often curative if the surgical margins were wide and it hasn’t spread to other organs. If the mast cell tumor has spread, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Round, raised masses in the skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Black tarry stools due to bleeding in the upper intestinal tract

 


Masticatory Muscle Myositis

 

Overview


Masticatory muscle myositis (MMM) is an inflammatory condition involving the muscles of mastication or chewing in the dog. MMM is caused by an immune mediated process targeted against specific muscle fibers.

MMM occurs in all breeds of dog, but appears to be more common in German shepherds, Doberman pinschers and retrievers. Young and middle-aged dogs are most commonly affected. MMM has not been reported in the cat.

The disease occurs in both acute and chronic forms, and the signs may vary with each form. The chronic form is seen more commonly.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Masticatory muscle myositis is generally diagnosed by history and physical examination findings. Bloodwork, muscle biopsy, electromyography and skull x-ray can help rule out other diseases.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The majority of dogs with masticatory muscle myostitis are treated with high doses of corticosteroids and/or other immunosuppressive drugs. Some may require a feeding tube during treatment. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Swelling associated with facial and forehead muscles
  • Fever
  • Pain upon opening the mouth
  • Reluctance to eat or chew
  • Excessive salivation
  • Shrinkage of head muscles
  • Inability to open the mouth normally

 


Medial Patellar Luxation

 

Overview


Medial patella luxation is a condition in which the patella (knee-cap) no longer glides within its natural groove in the femur, the upper bone of the knee joint. It becomes displaced to the inside of the joint and can be partial or complete, intermittent or permanent.

Medial patellar luxation can occur as a result of trauma or develop during the first year of an animal’s life. It is most commonly found in a wide variety of small dogs such as poodles, Yorkshire terriers, Maltese and bichon frise, but it also occurs in larger breeds. Animals may present when they are young, during the first year of life, particularly if the abnormality is severe, or any time later in their life if the problem is lower grade and leads to a more progressive, chronic lameness. Traumatic patella luxation can occur at any age and is usually secondary to being hit by a car.

Lameness can vary from an occasional hitch of the leg, like an intermittent skipping, to a persistent weight bearing lameness. Traumatic luxations are more likely to result in a non-weight bearing lameness.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Medial patellar luxation is generally diagnosed by history, physical examination and x-rays of the affected leg.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. In mild cases, restricted exercise and anti-inflammatory medications may be sufficient. In more severe cases, surgery is recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lameness
  • Not walking
  • Painfulness or crying

 


Osteosarcoma

 

Overview


Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that typically arises in the bones of the limbs. Less commonly, it may occur in the bones of the spine, pelvis, and skull. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer, and it is estimated to occur in more than 8,000 dogs in the United States each year. Osteosarcoma occurs very rarely in cats.

The cause of osteosarcoma is largely unknown and is most common in large-breed dogs (over 50 pounds). Most dogs are 6 years of age or older when they develop this tumor; however, it does occur in animals as young as two years of age.

This is a highly metastatic, meaning it spreads to other parts of the body, and life-threatening form of cancer and usually causes lameness and general debilitation of your pet during its development and progression. Average life expectancy in dogs that receive treatment in the form of amputation, or surgical removal of the leg, and chemotherapy is 10 to 12 months. Without treatment, life expectancy is usually two to four months.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Osteosarcoma is generally diagnosed by x-rays of the affected leg, chest x-rays and bloodwork. A biopsy of the tumor and/or a bone scan may be beneficial.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Surgical removal of the tumor, usually limb amputation, is usually recommended. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be suggested. Limb-sparing surgery is an option that you may want to consider. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lameness
  • Pain of any of the bones
  • Broken bone with minimal trauma
  • Swelling of a leg

 


Pancreatitis

 

Overview


Pancreatitis results from sudden inflammation of the pancreas and is characterized by activation of pancreatic enzymes that can cause the pancreas to begin digesting itself.

The cause of pancreatitis is poorly understood. Predisposing causes include obesity, high fat diet, liver disease, infection and recent abdominal surgery. For unknown reasons, miniature schnauzers tend to be predisposed to pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. The body's reaction to the inflammation often determines the severity and prognosis. Recurrent bouts of pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis and may contribute to other disorders such as diabetes mellitus or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Pancreatitis is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination and bloodwork. Abdominal x-rays and abdominal ultrasound may also be recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with pancreatitis are treated with fluids, antibiotics, pain medication and a special diet. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness

 


Panosteitis

 

Overview


Panosteitis is an inflammation involving various layers of the bones of young, growing dogs. This condition occurs spontaneously and ultimately resolves on its own.

The exact cause of panosteitis is unknown, but the disease tends to occur in large and giant breed dogs between five to 12 months of age. The German shepherd breed is most commonly affected. Males are more commonly affected than females. In females, the problem can be associated with coming into heat for the first time.

Panosteitis can cause severe lameness in more than one leg. The degree of pain may be such that the dog develops a fever, stops eating and starts to lose weight.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Panosteitis is generally diagnosed by a physical examination including a thorough orthopedic exam and x-rays of the legs.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Most pets are treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medications. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Shifting leg lameness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

 


Parvovirus

 

Overview


Parvovirus is a virus that invades and destroys rapidly growing cells in the intestine, bone marrow and lymphoid tissue resulting in nausea, vomiting and severe bloody diarrhea. The disease can vary from mild to fatal if not properly treated.

Infection is generally attributed to ingestion of material contaminated by infected dog feces and can occur when a dog smells or licks the ground. Parvovirus is shed in the feces of infected dogs for approximately two weeks after initial ingestion and can live in the environment for years.

Dogs at highest risk for infection are unvaccinated puppies or those who have not yet completed their vaccine series. Especially susceptible breeds include Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, Staffordshire terriers and black Labrador retrievers. Dogs of all ages can be infected, but puppies and younger dogs are more susceptible. Intact male dogs may also be susceptible for unknown reasons.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Parvovirus is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination and testing of the feces for the presence of viral antigens. Abdominal x-rays and blood tests are often recommended.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Most puppies diagnosed with parvovirus benefit from hospitalization with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and medications to control nausea and vomiting. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Not eating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, sometimes bloody

 


Periodontitis

 

Overview


Periodontitis is the inflammation of the structures that support teeth and gums. It is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world in dogs and is caused by bacteria that make up plaque.

Periodontitis causes tooth and bone loss, which can even lead to jaw fracture. It can be seen at almost any age and affects over 80 percent of dogs over three years of age.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Periodontitis is generally diagnosed by oral examination, including periodontal probing. Full mouth x-rays may be performed.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. A thorough dental cleaning is often recommended. Antibiotics are usually prescribed. In severe cases, tooth extraction may be needed. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Bad breath
  • Tooth loss
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Poor appetite

 


Pneumonia

 

Overview


Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and the bronchi, usually related to a bacterial infection. The route of infection is typically inhalation but sometimes the bacteria can be spread by the blood stream from an infection in other parts of the body.

Pneumonia can occur in dogs and cats, but is more common in dogs. Sporting dogs, hounds, working dogs and mixed breed dogs over 25 pounds may be predisposed. Most affected pets are under one year of age but pets of any age can be affected.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Pneumonia is generally diagnosed by physical exam findings, particularly through listening to the chest, and chest x-rays. Blood work can help support the diagnosis. Cultures of exudates may also be taken to help determine the underlying cause and the best treatment.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The majority of dogs with pneumonia are treated with fluids and antibiotics. Bronchodilators and humidified oxygen may be administered. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Coughing, often productive
  • Nasal discharge
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficult breathing
  • Anorexia
  • Fatigue

 


Pyometra

 

Overview


Pyometra is the medical term used to describe an infected uterus. This infection can be open (draining pus from the vagina) or closed (pus contained in the uterus by a closed cervix).

Pyometra can be a life threatening infection and may require emergency surgery. A closed pyometra is more of an emergency than an open pyometra, since there is no drainage of pus in a closed pyometra. If left untreated, pets become very ill and some may not survive. With early treatment, about 90 percent of affected pets recover.

Since pyometra is an infection of the uterus, all un-spayed dogs are susceptible. Usually, pyometra occurs within eight weeks of the dog’s last heat cycle due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Pyometra is generally diagnosed by history, physical examination findings and abdominal x-rays. Bloodwork will help determine any concurrent disorders.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Surgery (spaying) is recommended for the majority of dogs with pyometra. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:


  • Vaginal discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating often

 


Reverse Sneezing

 

Overview


Reverse sneezing is a common phenomenon in dogs. In a regular sneeze, your dog pushes air out through the nose; however, in a reverse sneeze, air is pulled rapidly into the nose. During a reverse sneeze, your dog will make rapid and long inspirations, stand still with his elbows spread apart, extend his head, and his eyes may bulge. Each reverse sneezing episode generally lasts for one to two minutes.

The exact reasons for these episodes are unknown but may be related to allergies, nasal irritants or nasal inflammation. Reverse sneezing attacks are generally quite brief and not life threatening.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Reverse sneezing is generally diagnosed by a description of the event by the owner or by the veterinarian observing the abnormal breathing pattern. Physical examination and a thorough oral exam is important to make sure there isn’t a physical reason for the reverse sneezing. Your veterinarian may suggest various tests such as chest x-rays or bloodwork to rule out other disorders.

  • Reverse sneezing is non-life threatening and usually doesn’t require treatment. To stop an episode, stimulate your dog to swallow either massaging the throat or briefly pinching off the nasal openings. For some dogs, treatment is necessary and may include antihistamines if allergies are suspected. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Frequent and rapid snorting
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficult breathing

 


Rodenticide Toxicity

 

Overview


Rodenticide toxicity is the accidental ingestion of products used to kill rodents such as mice, rats and gophers. Poisoning is most commonly caused by ingestion of a product containing one of the following ingredients: bromethalin, cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), strychnine, zinc phosphide or anticoagulant (warfarin, fumarin, chlorophacinone, diphacinone, pindone, bromadiolone, brodaficoum).

The affect on the animal will depend on the type of poison ingested and the amount. Bleeding disorders, neurologic problems, gastrointestinal distress or kidney failure can occur. Without treatment, rodenticide toxicity can be fatal.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Rodenticide toxicity is generally diagnosed by bloodwork, urinalysis and clotting tests. In some cases, examination and testing of the stomach contents may be beneficial.

  • Treatment depends on the type of toxin ingested, severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. If ingestion was recent, inducing vomiting is often recommended followed by administration of activated charcoal. Intravenous fluids, blood transfusion, muscle relaxants, medications for kidney failure or brain swelling or vitamin K therapy may be necessary, depending on the specific toxin ingested . Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Incoordination
  • Difficulty walking
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Coma

 


Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament

 

Overview


The cranial cruciate ligament is located within the knee joint and acts to stabilize the femur on the tibia. The ligament can be torn as a result of an acute traumatic event or more commonly it ruptures due to a slow progressive breakdown of the ligament.

When the tear is sudden and complete, lameness may be severe and such that your pet refuses to bear weight on the leg. When the tear is partial or incomplete an intermittent lameness that is more noticeable after heavy exercise may be seen. Your dog may seem more lame on some days than others.

In large dogs (greater than 30 pounds), the joint usually becomes arthritic and the joint thickens if surgical stabilization is not performed.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is generally diagnosed by history, complete physical examination including a thorough orthopedic exam and x-rays.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. For small dogs, strict confinement, weight loss and anti-inflammatory medication may be sufficient. In larger dogs over 30 pounds or smaller dogs that don’t respond to conservative treatment in 2 months, surgical correction is recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Lameness or limping on a back leg
  • Painfulness
  • Reluctant to walk

 


Sarcoptic Mange

 

Overview


Sarcoptic mange (also known as scabies) is a highly contagious parasitic disease caused by a microscopic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei that affects animals and people. These mites invade the skin of healthy dogs and puppies and create a variety of skin problems. The hallmark of the disease is intense itchiness. There may also be small red bumps located on the margins of the ears, elbows, hocks (ankles), chest and abdomen. These lesions may become generalized. Other symptoms may include patchy hair loss, and crusty sores.

Dogs of all ages may be affected, but sarcoptic mange is more common in young animals. Cats living in close contact with affected dogs may develop the disease.

If left untreated, chronic skin lesions develop including increased pigmentation, thickening and wrinkling of the skin, ulcerations and draining tracts. Secondary bacterial infections are common due to self-trauma.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Sarcoptic mange is generally diagnosed by physical examination, history and skin scraping. Sometimes the mite is difficult to find on skin scrapings. If there is a high index of suspicion, some animals are diagnosed with sarcoptic mange if they have a positive response to treatment for mange.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The majority of dogs with sarcoptic mange are treated with medications to eradicate the mite such as ivermection, lime sulfur dips, or Revolution. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary to treat the skin lesions. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Intense itching
  • Presence of papules
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Crusty sores

 


Thrombocytopenia

 

Overview


Thrombocytopenia refers to an abnormally low blood-concentration of platelets, which are blood cells that promote blood clotting. When the concentration of platelets becomes too low, spontaneous bruising and bleeding may occur.

Abnormally low platelet numbers in blood can be caused by a variety of disease processes. These include failure to produce new platelets in the bone marrow, premature destruction of circulating platelets often by the body’s own immune system, storing of platelets in organs, and consumption of platelets at a rate that exceeds production in the bone marrow.

Dogs of any gender, age and breed can suffer from thrombocytopenia.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Thrombocytopenia is generally diagnosed by physical examination and history and a complete blood count with manual platelet count. Once a low platelet count has been confirmed, additional tests are performed to try to determine the underlying cause of the low platelet count. Tests may include blood chemistry, urinalysis, chest and abdominal x-rays, bone marrow biopsy or aspiration, blood clotting tests and specialized infectious disease tests.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The underlying cause of the thrombocytopenia may be treated with corticosteroids or antibiotics. In some cases, surgery may be required to treat the cause of the low platelet count. Some dogs may benefit from vincristine, a drug that can help release platelets from the bone marrow. This medication is only given to those animals that have platelets in their bone marrow. Rarely, platelet transfusions may be given to temporarily increase the platelet count. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:


  • Small red spots or dots on the gums or the skin
  • Unexplained bruises on the skin
  • Nose bleeds (epistaxis)
  • Bloody urine
  • Bloody stool

 


Tracheal Collapse

 

Overview


Tracheal collapse is a syndrome in which the trachea (windpipe) collapses which causes an airway obstruction. It is a commonly encountered cause of airway obstruction and coughing in the dog. The exact cause remains unknown, although there may be many factors involved. The most likely cause is abnormal synthesis of the cartilage that is part of the structure of the trachea (windpipe). The disease causes dogs to cough in spasms.

Either sex may be affected, although it is almost always a disease of toy breeds. Yorkshire terriers are the most commonly affected, but Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, poodles and Maltese are also predisposed. It may affect dogs of any age, although the average age at which clinical signs first appear is six or seven years.


Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Tracheal collapse is generally diagnosed by physical examination and history and chest x-rays. Tests to visualize the trachea may be recommended including fluoroscopy or tracheobronchoscopy.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. In an emergency situation, dogs with tracheal collapse are treated with oxygen, steroids, cough suppressants and sedation. Long term treatment may involve airway dilators, steroid, antibiotics and cough suppressants. Some dogs may benefit from surgery to reconstruct part of the trachea. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Dry cough (goose honk)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Gagging
  • Respiratory difficulty

 


Urinary Obstruction

 

Overview


Urinary obstruction is an acute obstruction of the urinary tract. In dogs, it is usually caused by stones. Although this disease can affect any pet, it is most common in males.

Urinary obstruction can quickly become life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Urinary obstruction is generally diagnosed by a thorough history and physical examination. Urinalysis and abdominal x-rays are often recommended. Abdominal ultrasound may also be performed.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with urinary obstruction are treated by relieving the obstruction with catheterization and flushing the bladder with sterile fluid. Pets are also treated with antibiotics and pain medications. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased attempts to urinate
  • Straining to urinate with no urine production
  • Crying when trying to urinate
  • Increased grooming of the genital region

 


Urinary Tract Infection - Dogs

 

Overview

Urinary tract infection, also called cystitis, is an inflammation of the urinary bladder usually caused by a bacterial infection. Some additional causes of urinary tract infections include bladder stones, bladder tumors, and some diseases such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease. Some medications, such as cortisone-like drugs and anti-cancer drugs, may contribute to the development of bacterial urinary tract infections. Acute cystitis is more common in female dogs than in males.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Urinary tract infections are generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination and urinalysis. Abdominal x-rays are often recommended to evaluate for bladder stones. Bacterial culture of the urine may be performed to identify the organism. Blood work may be recommended to diagnose underlying disease and evaluate overall health.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Dogs with cystitis are often treated with a 2 to 3 week course of antibiotics. Repeat evaluations of urine are recommended. Discuss treatment and follow-up details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.



What to Watch for*:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased frequency of urinations
  • Straining to urinate

 


Urolithiasis

 

Overview


Urolithiasis refers to the formation of stones in the urinary tract. Stones can be found anywhere in the urinary tract, in the kidneys, the ureter or the bladder, but are most common in the bladder.

Several factors can contribute to development of urolithiasis. These include genetic factors, diet, breed, metabolic diseases, congenital problems and bacterial urinary tract infections. There are several types of stones, named according to their predominant mineral composition. The most common stones are struvite and calcium oxalate.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Urolithiasis is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination (including palpation of the bladder), urinalysis and abdominal x-rays. For those instances when the bladder stones are not visible on plain x-rays, contrast dye x-ray may be needed. In some situations, an abdominal ultrasound may be recommended. Stones are analyzed to identify mineral composition and guide future treatment.

  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with concurrent bacterial infection are treated with antibiotics. The stones are treated with surgical removal or by dietary intervention or both. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:


  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased frequency of urinations
  • Straining to urinate