Dog Wellness

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Dogs are practically members of the family. Their overall state of wellness is generally accorded the same importance as that of each member of the family. In fact, they may need closer and more careful monitoring because they cannot verbally express what they feel, they cannot pinpoint specific sources of bodily discomfort and pain. Is my dog sick?What is wrong with my dog? How do we know? What are the tell-tale signs? And if they are unwell how can we help them?

Why is it Important to Understand All About Dog Wellness?

Volumes have been written about dogs being man’s best friend. They are deeply loyal, very devoted, very caring and fiercely protective of their human. The least we can do if we value their company and their friendship, is to ensure their good health and maintain their state of wellness.

They are not in control. We are.

Keep them well-nourished, make provisions for their daily needs, exercise them regularly, spend quality time with them as friends and members of the household, and be vigilant about their state of health. We need to have some knowledge about canine health concerns and issues. We need to be watchful. The earlier any illness is detected, the less misery for our friends, the less anxiety for us, and the less expense.

Common Dog Health Issues and Concerns

A dog’s age in years is not equivalent to that of the human’s. The calculation of a dog’s life-year varies according to its breed and life stage. Generally, the dog’s life stages may be classified as follows1:

  • Puppy Stage - Neonate until reproductive maturity
  • Junior Stage - Reproductively mature, still growing
  • Adult Stage -  Finished growing, structurally and socially mature
  • Mature Stage - From middle to 75% of life expectancy
  • Senior Stage - From maturity to the last 25% of life expectancy
  • Geriatric Stage - The last quarter of life expectancy

While there are six identified life stages in a dog’s life, the health concerns discussed here are lumped under only three representative life stages since these health concerns overlap among the 6 stages.

  •  Dog Health Concerns According to Life Stage

 

Puppy Stage

Adult Stage

Geriatric Stage

Developmental growth disorders – This particular concern among puppies is usually anticipated and addressed by a strict nutrition plan and efficient veterinary care and monitoring.

Arthritis in dogs – A disease that is characterized by the degeneration of the joints causing inflammation and much pain to the animal.

 

Arthritis in dogs– Likely carried-over from the adult stage, either controlled or worse. The inflammation of the joints may have intensified causing swelling and much pain. Behavioral symptoms could include limping, difficulty standing or walking, not wanting to move and manifesting pain when touched. The dog may also be licking the painful joint and become angry or aggressive.

Intestinal parasites and heartworm – Probable symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. Parasite treatment starts at 2 weeks old, repeated on the 4th, 6th and 8th weeks.

 

Worms – Worms enter an animated body through unsafe food and water. Most common dog worms are heartworm, roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, and whipworm. Periodic de-worming of the animal is a “must”.

 

Gingivitis or gum inflammation – This is caused by gum bacteria that spread under the gum and if left untreated can develop into periodontitis. This is the pulling away of the gum from the teeth, creating gaps in-between where infection can set in and cause bone loss. Tender and bleeding gums are among the symptoms of periodontitis. The infection can eventually spread to and infect the bloodstream and be transmitted to other body organs.

Canine Parvovirus – This illness may attack puppies between 18 weeks to 3 years old. It is highly contagious and transmitted to unvaccinated dogs through body secretions. For safeguard, the puppy should be vaccinated against canine parvovirus from 6/8 weeks old, and receive booster vaccination every 3 weeks until age 4 months.

 

Cancer – This is reportedly the cause of almost 50% of disease-related deaths in dogs2. Probable symptoms include lumps, unusual odors, behavioral changes, and/or drastic loss of weight.

 

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) – This is the equivalent of Alzheimer’s Disease among elderly humans. There are physical and chemical changes in the brain that impair its functioning and cause behavioral changes in the afflicted pet. The dog does not readily respond to usual commands, gets lost in familiar home surroundings, has problem finding appropriate doors, wanders aimlessly around the house, becomes incontinent, reluctant to play or go outside to walk, has difficulty remembering routine behavior and learning new tasks, frequently trembles and shakes, sleeps more during the day than at night, gets startled at the slightest sound, and does not recognize members of the family.

Canine Distemper – This is a viral infection with symptoms that include upper respiratory illness characterized by sneezing, eye discharge and fever. Its symptoms are often mistaken to be signs of colds. It can develop into pneumonia or to fatal brain damage. For preventive measure, vaccination against this disease has to be administered at 6 to 8 weeks and repeated after 9 weeks. Dogs afflicted with canine distemper need to be confined in supportive hospital care. Unfortunately, a puppy that survives distemper may be afflicted again when he gets older. Chances of recovery at this is small. Worse, the disease may cause seizures due to neurological problems.

Diabetes in Dogs– Symptoms include seeming unquenched thirst, change in appetite, weight loss, slow-healing wounds, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision and vomiting. It often develops among 8-9-year dogs.

 

Diabetes in Dogs– Some breeds are more susceptible to diabetes. These include Cairn Terriers, Toy Poodles, Pugs, Samoyeds, Miniature Schnauzers.

 

Kennel Cough or trachea-bronchitis infection– This is an airborne viral infection. The name is misleading because it is not kennel-related; it attacks puppies that do not live in kennels. Symptoms include lethargy, fever, productive cough and decreased appetite. If untreated, kennel cough may lead to pneumonia. Puppy vaccination against kennel cough may be started at 6-8 weeks and then every 6-12 months thereafter.

Kennel Cough or trachea-bronchitis infection– This is an airborne viral infection. The name is misleading because it is not kennel-related; it attacks puppies that do not live in kennels. Symptoms include lethargy, fever, productive cough and decreased appetite. If untreated, kennel cough may lead to pneumonia. Puppy vaccination against kennel cough may be started at 6-8 weeks and then every 6-12 months thereafter.

Blindness – This is manifested by the dog’s uncharacteristic bumping into things, dilated pupils and red or irritated eyes. Blindness-causing cataract is easily observable in the white, thin film that covers the eyeball.

 

Leptospirosis – This is a bacterial disease that is transmitted through infected urine and contaminated water. It affects the kidneys and the liver. Symptoms are flu-like in addition to fever, vomiting and/or lethargy. It is usually treated with antibiotics.

 

Allergies –This health problem is caused by exposure to any or a combination of elements that causes great discomfort for the afflicted dog. Its symptoms may manifest in persistent coughing/sneezing, prolonged and frequent scratching, lack of energy and/or any new behavior when exposed to something new.

 

Kidney Disease – Kidney failure in dogs may be caused by kidney stone that blocks the urinary tract, by bladder rupture or kidney degeneration due to old age. Among dogs, observable symptoms include increased frequency and quantity of drinking water, more frequent urinating, vomiting, weight loss, tongue discoloration and loss of appetite.

 

Rabies – While occurrence of this dog disease has drastically declined statistically due to anti-rabies vaccines, it remains a threat to dogs. Among the most common symptoms are continuous thick and heavy drooling and unnaturally aggressive behavior.

 

 

Obesity in dogs– This is especially common among dogs in kennels and those that do not get much exercise as they grow older.

 

 

Fleas – Fleas cause much discomfort to their host dogs. They thrive in dogs with thick coat that is not washed often enough.

 

 

  • Dog Health Concerns According to Breed

    • Basset Hound – Basset Hounds have sad eyes and droopy ears that need regular cleaning to prevent viral infection. Because of its short legs and its tendency to sniff, the Basset Hound is prone to inhale bacterial, viral and parasitic infections from the ground.
    • Boxer – Boxers were originally trained to fight. They are highly competitive and have compact, muscular bodies. However, they are prone to heart and thyroid problems and to skin allergies. Cancer, arthritis, knee concerns and hip dysplasia are also health concerns among Boxers.
    • Chihuahua – Chihuahuas are tiny, weighing just 6 lbs. or less, but they live longer than some larger breeds - approximately 12-15 years. Among their health concerns are kneecap injury (patellar luxation). They are also prone to teeth overcrowding and hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia in dogs is caused by depletion of energy because of low intake of energy-producing foods. This energy imbalance may also manifest in problems with muscular coordination.
    • Cocker Spaniel – This breed is famous for its glorious hair. It needs frequent washing and brushing to keep it free from tangles. Spaniels are susceptible to eye and ear problems, particularly seborrhea which causes chronic build up of greasy and smelly ear wax and scaly skin coat.
    • Dalmatian – This breed is known to be gentle, patient and strong. Susceptibility to deafness is an inherited weakness.
    • German Shepherd – This breed requires much exercise and physical stimulation. It is susceptible to chronic eczema as well as to keratitis, an eye inflammation that affects the cornea of the eyes, thereby causing poor eyesight. The German Shepherd is also prone to hereditary deformation of the hip socket that could eventually lead to arthritis or lameness.
    • Irish Setter – Playful and affectionate, this breed is prone to hereditary illnesses like ear mite infestations and to a serious neurological disorder that is characterized by seizures. There is also a risk of Hemophilia for dogs of this breed.
    • Jack (& Parson) Russell Terriers –Dogs of this breed are highly intelligent and are known to have longer life expectancy than larger breeds. They may live up to 14 to 16 years as against the 10 to 12 years for most other breeds. Aside from good nutrition, their only significant need is plenty of regular exercise. They generally inherit susceptibility to glaucoma that may lead to gradual loss of eyesight.
    • Labrador Retriever – This top favorite among American dog lovers does not need complicated nurturing.  Highly energetic, its main health needs are daily exercise and good nutrition. This breed is prone to weight gain leading to obesity and cardiovascular problems. The Labrador Retriever inherits susceptibility to eye disorders, particularly retinal detachment, atrophy of central retina and juvenile cataracts.
    • Lhasa Apso – The Lhasa needs regular eye care for maximum health. Fluid normally flows out of its eyes, calling for gentle and regular eye cleaning with mild saltwater solution. Its long haircoat needs regular brushing. It could manifest hereditary kidney disease symptoms and serious case of inguinal hernias.
    • Pug - Pugs are known to have longer life expectancy, although their characteristic “pushed-in” face can cause breathing problems. This could lead to snoring at night or breathing difficulties.
    • Yorkshire Terrier – This breed is reputed to be the third most popular breed in America. Unfortunately, their diet has to be carefully monitored because they are prone to digestive problems which may cause collapse of the trachea. Another hereditary defect, portosystemic shunt, can make toxins accumulate in the blood leading to neurological and behavioral problems.
  • Dog Health Concerns According to Behavior 

Every form of behavior has a trigger – it could be a positive, happy and affirming behavior or a seething, destructive behavior; it could be a response to an unusual triggering situation or an expression of illness and bodily discomfort. It is imperative that the true reason behind the behavior be verified before making or planning an appropriate response or intervention. his is true whether the dog is responding to a person or to another pet. 

  • Aggression
  • Compulsive chewing
  • Shaking/Trembling
  • Tail wagging
  • Refusing to eat
  • Unusual restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Growling/Snarling
  • Barking
  • Excessive barking
  • Whining/Whimpering
  • Excessive water intake
  • Excessive scratching
  • Unusual and continuous sneezing
  • Digging
  • Chewing/play biting (especially among puppies)
  • Eating own feces

Each of the behaviors in the above list is a form of dog communication. What is our pet saying? Is it a communication of deep emotional agitation or elation? Is it conveying a need? Is my dog sick? Is it expressing a specific health concern? In finding a way to decipher what our dog is communicating to us, we need to understand the nature of our pet, to have some idea on the typical behavior of his breed and of his current life stage. Only then can we be more capable of understanding the message our pet is trying to convey and respond to it more appropriately.

Diseases of Focus 

Diabetes in Dogs 

Canine diabetes is a relatively new medical interest relative to human diabetes which has long been researched. Recent statistics put the trend in dog diabetes at one out of every 150-500 dogs and the figure appears to be still going upwards3. This is mainly because as of yet, diabetes is not curable; just treatable. Once acquired, it stays with the afflicted dog throughout its life. Strides in treatment research however, allow dog owners to alleviate the symptoms for their pets, helping them live an almost normal life. 

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2.Canine diabetes is mostly of Type 1, or the dog’s pancreas’ inability to produce insulin. Insulin is needed for body cells to absorb glucose or sugar, the body’s energy fuel, from the blood. In both Type 1 and Type 2 cases, blood sugar becomes too high, the main cause of diabetes. 

    • Prevalence –Studies on canine diabetes show patterns of factors that affect a dog’s susceptibility to diabetes. These are weight, gender, age, diet and breed4
    • Weight - Obese dogs are prone to diabetes because obesity can cause body cells to be resistant to insulin
    • Gender - Female dogs5 and neutered male dogs are more susceptible to diabetes.
    • Age - Middle-aged dogs are more at-risk of becoming diabetic.
    • Diet - Fat-rich food makes dogs more prone to diabetes because fats can cause pancreatitis, impairing the beta cells that produce insulin.
    • Breed - Mixed-breed dogs have higher chances of becoming diabetic. However, some pure breed dogs have been placed in the vulnerable list. They include:German Shepherd, Poodles, Samoyed. Australian Terriers, Fox Terriers, Keeshonden, Pugs, Golden Retrievers and Schnauzers.
  • Symptoms of Diabetes–Dog owners need to be able to recognize changes in their dog’s behavior. Such changes can be signals of the onset of an illness that is best recognized at the outset to save the dogs from unnecessary suffering and premature death. It will also minimize potential expenses on the treatment of a full-blown disease and its complications.Watch out for the following symptoms of diabetes in dogs6:
    •  Cataract formation, blindness
    • Change in appetite
    • Chronic skin infections
    • Dehydration
    • Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
    • Increased urination
    • Lethargy
    • Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Vomiting
    • Weight loss
  • Diagnosis–When you first suspect that your dog is likely diabetic, seeking reliable diagnosis should follow.  There are reliable test kits in the market that will help you verify whether your dog has become diabetic or not. But while you can use dog symptom checkers online for an initial diagnosis and conveniently perform at-home tests for your dog, it will be advisable to start seeing a veterinarian. Once diabetes is confirmed you will professional help on a regular basis. Many at-home glucose tests are useful in measuring and monitoring the level of glucose in the blood, with a high degree of accuracy. There are multi-test kits as well, called Canine Combo Test Kits that even come with Dog Urine Collectors for added convenience.

Test Procedure (PetTest Blood Glucose Monitor):

  • Insert one test strip into the strip port
  • The device will turn on automatically
  • Press M button to select “dog” for mode.
  • Use the lancet to draw a small amount of blood from your pet.
  • Apply the blood directly to the tip of the test strip.
  • A beep will sound indicating enough blood is in the strip.
  • Result will display in 5 seconds, and is stored in the meter’s memory.

Test Procedure (PetConfirm General Wellness and Combo Tests):

  • Collect urine sample in clean container using free catch method.
  • Only 2-3ml (spoonful) of sample is needed for testing.
  • Use urine within 1 hour from collection
  • Follow steps as shown in diagram:

dog-wellness-test.jpg

 

The vet’s help will be important during the testing process because he will need to record the variation in the glucose level readings and establish the dog’s range of normalcy. The veterinarian can get more relevant information that is important in planning the next steps in diagnosing and caring for your dog.

  • Treatment –Treatment of your dog’s diabetes simply means keeping the glucose level in the blood within the normal range of 65 to 120 mg/dl to prevent the illness from escalating into more serious complications. These complications can either incapacitate or kill your prized pet. Among the risks of high blood glucose are: blindness, infections in the urinary tract (UTI) gums, and the skin. It is therefore imperative that you closely monitor the activities that will raise your dog’s blood glucose level. The prime concerns are food intake, an exercise program, weight loss, continuing home blood glucose level testing and insulin injection once or twice a day or as determined by the attending veterinarian.
  • Prevention - The predominant determining factors in preventing the onset of diabetes, outside of heredity, are proper diet, ample exercise and appropriate body weight. A dog’s diet should have less fats, sweets and carbohydrates. It has to be richer in fiber7. Ample physical activities and exercise need to be part of the dog’s everyday life. The idea is to prevent the accumulation of glucose in the body and to keep the body trim and fit. There should be a quality glucose tests in the house that will monitor the dog’s body glucose level and will provide guidance in implementing the diabetes prevention program.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Dogs 

Urinary tract infection is the bacterial infection of the bladder and some, if not all, of the parts of the urinary tract. These are the kidneys (the main urinary tract organ), the ureters (the tubes connecting the kidney to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside). The infection happens when the defense system of that body area fails to function.

  • Prevalence – Diabetic dogs, older female dogs and dogs with adrenal diseases are predisposed to lower urinary tract infections8. Dogs that are suffering from incontinence due to weakened sphincter muscles are also likely candidates for dog UTI because the “leak” is a good breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Symptoms – Vigilance is the key attitude in looking after the health of pets mainly because they are not able to verbalize what they feel. We need to be familiar with the symptoms of illnesses in them and to be observant and sensitive to these symptoms. UTI symptoms in dogs include: weight loss, appetite changes, lethargy, vomiting, increased water consumption, inability to urinate or small amount of urine, but increased frequency of passing urine, frequent licking of urinary opening, strong smell of urine, bloody or cloudy urine, loss of bladder control, fever, soiling, obvious pain during urination and severe back pain. The latter manifests itself when one touches or gently presses the dog’s back.

The Lower Urinary Tract

When bacteria invade and colonize the upper portion of the dog's urethra and/or the urinary bladder, an infection begins. It results to the inflammation of the affected tissue and subsequent urinary difficulties for the dog. All dogs can be affected, regardless of age but older ones are more vulnerable. Female dogs are also more susceptible to bacterial infections of the lower urinary tract.

Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

The following dog UTI symptoms should alert you to take your dog to the vet immediately or at least perform a home urine test for UTI so that you can ease your pet's discomfort until you're able to get proper medication:

  • Frequent urination (pollakiuria)but passing only small amounts of urine
  • Difficulty urinating (dysuria), sometimes straining and/or crying out in pain (stranguria)
  • Cloudy or bloody urine (hematuria)
  • Urinary incontinence/no bladder control
  • Constant licking of the penis or vulva to ease inflammation and irritation around the area
  • Vaginal_discharge
  • Urine has strong odor
  • Soiling in inappropriate spots in and around the house/grounds
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Severe back pain
  • Lethargy
  • Increased water consumption (polydipsia)
  • Depression

Causes of Lower Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs 

  • Trauma
  • Cancer
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Stress
  • Spinal cord abnormalities
  • Prostate disease
  • Stones, crystals and accumulation of debris in the bladder or urethra
  • Bladder infections
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Weak bladder resulting from excessive water intake
  • Diabetes and other endocrine problems

Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

Before any treatment can commence, your vet will typically do a physical examination of the bladder and kidneys; order blood work, urinalysis (perhaps with urine culture) and radiographs/ultrasound.3

Depending on the findings, treatment could include the following:

  • Antibiotics plus other medications/supplements
  • Dietary changes
  • Fluid therapy
  • Increase in water intake
  • Surgery or other procedures to remove bladder stones or tumors
  • Surgical correction of any congenital abnormality
  • Treatment of underlying condition that is contributing to urinary problem (e.g. diabetes mellitus)
  • Urinary acidifiers 

Lower urinary problems if left untreated can develop into more serious medical problems for your pet. Bladder infections can move up to the kidneys. Stones can cause urethral blockage. Both these complications are life threatening and should be attended to immediately.

The Upper Urinary Tract

Upper UTIs are basically kidney infections. The kidneys filter the blood and excrete all waste materials as urine, while maintaining a healthy balance of water, salt and phosphorus levels in the body. They also help control blood pressure, aid calcium metabolism and manufacture hormones for red blood cell production. With all these major functions, when the kidneys break down, toxins begin to build up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Dogs

  • Bad breath (strong chemical smell)
  • Blood in urine
  • Depression/no energy
  • Increase/decrease in urine
  • Increase/decrease in water intake
  • Loss or decreased appetite
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pale gums
  • Unsteady gait
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Causes of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney failure in dogs is either acute or chronic, just like in humans. Acute kidney failure is a decline in the kidney's function that occurs over a few days. Chronic kidney failure is more common in aging dogs. This kind of kidney failure happens over a prolonged period of time much longer than just a few days, and the causes are harder to pinpoint.

Causes of Acute Renal Failure in Dogs

  • Ingestion of  Antifreeze (radiator fluid/ethylene glycol)
  • Heavy metal poisoning (copper, iron, arsenic, mercury, lead, silver, zinc)
  • Venom (snake/insect)
  • Toxic foods (grapes, raisins, chocolate)
  • Toxic plants
  • Certain medications (Ibuprofen, NSAIDs, those containing vitamin D)
  • Rat poison
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Physical trauma to both kidneys
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Addison's disease
  • High/low blood pressure

Causes of Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs 

  • Diabetes
  • Lymphoma
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Genetic factors
  • Urinary blockage
  • Dental disease4

Treatment for Kidney Failure in Dogs

Treatment for acute kidney failure begins by identifying the underlying cause and correcting it accordingly. If you already know for example that your pet accidentally ingested antifreeze, you might begin trying to induce vomiting before even getting to the vet. For most cases, whether the problem is acute or chronic, treatment may include the following:

  • Control of vomiting
  • Correction of anemia
  • Dialysis
  • Dietary changes
  • Diuretic drugs
  • Fluid therapy
  • Management of high blood pressure
  • Medication for gastrointestinal problems
  • Monitoring of urinary output
  • Restoration of blood electrolyte balance

The Importance of Urine Tests

Many dogs don't display symptoms of kidney disease, and they could already be suffering from it without their owners knowing.It is therefore imperative for dog owners to take their pets for regular veterinary visits that include routine blood and urine tests for dogs. These visits and these tests are the only sure way of catching any problem and arresting the further deterioration of your pet's kidneys. Learning to do your own home test for kidney disease is also a good proactive move. Many online resources even offer specimen collection kits to make it easier for the pet owner to collect their pet's urine for submission to accredited labs.

  • Diagnosis - When you observe dog UTI symptoms, you can validate your observations through diagnostic home testing kits that are readily online. Some are called combo test kits that provide tests for diabetes and kidney function in addition to the UTI test. If you get preliminary positive test results, you must take your dog to a vet. Routine medical examinations can include bladder and kidney examinations, urinalysis, including urine culture and blood tests. It may be a good idea to keep at home wellness test kits even after a visit to the vet. These tests sometimes come with their own P-Scoop Urine Collector for added convenience.

Test Procedure (PetConfirm UTI, General Wellness and Combo Tests):

  • Collect urine sample in clean container using free catch method.
  • Only 2-3 ml (spoonful) of sample is needed for testing.
  • Use urine within 1 hour from collection
  • Follow steps as shown in diagram:

 dog-wellness-test.jpg

  • Treatment – When infection is detected, veterinary intervention has to be started even when results of other initial tests are not yet in because of the risk of further and more serious damage. Antibiotics are the immediate intervention to arrest the infection. Medications or supplements may also be recommended. The doctor may also look at the food and water intake of the dog and make necessary adjustments. The more the water intake, the faster the infection will be flushed out of the dog’s urinary tract. At the right time, and as needed, the vet may prescribe either urinary alkalanizers or acidifiers, intravenous therapy, surgery to remove damaged areas of the urinary tract and/or to correct congenital abnormality that predisposes the dog to UTI and treat conditions that contribute to the UTI9.
  • Prevention – Prevention of dog UTI is almost always fully within your control. Unsanitary living space, contaminated food and/or water, and/or low immune system can all be managed. Make sure that the dog’s kennel or living space is always clean. Empty the dog’s feeding plate after eating and store food properly to prevent it from the contamination of insects and any form of microorganisms. Regularly replenish the water in his drinking bowl. The more the dog drinks and urinates, the more infectious elements in his urinary tract are flushed out. Inform the vet if your dog’s immune system is down or weak so that he can give your dog the needed immunization boost10.

 Kidney Disease in Dogs 

The functions of dog kidneys are the same as in humans. They filter out wastes from the body through the urine. They balance salt and water concentration in the body and sustain the levels of phosphorous.  The kidneys also help in the metabolism of calcium and the control of blood pressure. They enhance the production of red blood cells. Kidney failure in dogs or renal failure is life-threatening and is most common in those that are older11.

  • Trends and Stats – Kidney failure in dogs has become a dreaded disease. It has claimed many a dog’s life, and treatment isn’t cheap. Relentless research on its prevention and treatment have given way to progress, giving hope to many dog owners.With aggressive therapy acute renal failure is now partially reversible, not simply treatable.
  • Prevalence– Renal failure in dogs is regarded as one of the deadliest diseases of dogs. Chronic kidney disease stealthily sneaks in almost unnoticed, until it has done irreversible damage to the afflicted dog.  Unless current efforts at preventing renal failure in dogs succeed, it is projected that 1 out of 10 dogs will fall prey to the disease.
  • Symptoms– Kidney failure in dogs can be acute or chronic, depending on its symptoms and manner of setting in. The acute renal failure manifests symptoms suddenly and can be quite severe. The usual cause is toxicity. The chronic type, on the other hand, sets in slowly, almost unnoticeably. The symptoms are so mild that many dog owners shrug them off as just a bad day for the dog. Kidney disease symptoms are numerous, depending on the gravity and stage of the disease: lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, increased water consumption, decreased frequency of urination, but increase in quantity, decreased appetite, blood in the urine unkempt coat, reluctance to move and hunch-over posture. Upon consultation with a vet, more serious symptoms may surface: high blood pressure, enlarged abdomen, bad breath, mouth ulcers, dehydration, swelling of the limbs and softening of bones.
  •  Diagnosis The easily observable symptoms of kidney disease in dogs should alert dog owners enough to want to find out for themselves, at least initially. Home diagnostic kits are easily orderable online. You may want to start with these, and should you get a positive result, you may proceed and see your dog’s vet. Other home kits offer multiple tests that cover not just kidney problems, but UTI and diabetes as well. Some even come with their very own P-Scoop Dog Urine Collector, making home testing more convenient.

Test Procedure (PetConfirm UTIGeneral Wellness and Combo Tests):

  • Collect urine sample in clean container using free catch method.
  • Only 2-3 ml (spoonful) of sample is needed for testing.
  • Use urine within 1 hour from collection
  • Follow steps as shown in diagram:

  dog-wellness-test.jpg

  • Treatment - Treatment of renal failure in dogs depends on its cause/s and on the type of the disease. Is it acute renal failure (ARF) or chronic renal failure (CRF). As always, knowledge of the case history is needed and initial tests should precede the treatment plan. A generic part of renal failure treatment is the fluid therapy for both ARF and CRF. The body system of the sick dog needs rehydration for 2-10 hours after which normal drinking can be resumed. Regular feeding and planned treatment with antibiotics and medication can be started. Testing will have to be continuous to monitor the progress of the treatment.
  • Prevention - Prevention is anchored on knowledge. If we know what could cause kidney failure in dogs, we would know what to watch out for. To prevent dog renal problems, keep your dog’s feeding materials clean and germ-free. Give your dog plenty of water. Make sure that there are no toxic materials around him. Consult a pet symptom checker regularly whenever you notice something amiss. Take your dog to a veterinarian on a regular basis.

Worms in Dogs

Most puppies are born with worms. They get them from their mothers while still in the uterus. After birth, they continue to get more while nursing and while playing in the muck. Common in dogs are the roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm and hookworm and heartworm. The hookworm and whipworm are microscopic while the roundworm and tapeworm are often observed in dog feces or vomit. Roundworms can grow as long as 5 ft. while nestled in the intestines of the host. The female roundworm can produce as many as 200,000 eggs in one day. These eggs are encased in hard shells and can remain in there for years, mixed with the soil. They hatch only after they have entered a host. Tapeworms are transmitted to dogs harboring fleas. They grow in length up to 4 inches. They can divide themselves into segments, each segment containing eggs. Tapeworms thrive in the host’s intestines. Hookworms “hook” themselves in the walls of the dog’s small intestines, sucking blood. The whipworms are found in the first section of the dog/s intestines and could hardly be seen. Nevertheless, they are as harmful as the others because they are parasites, taking much from their host.

 

worms-in-dogs.jpg

Photo Source: http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_dg_intestinal_worms_in_dogs

  • Trends/Stats – Members of the world of research are divided on the issue of which is more harmful to dogs - the external or the internal parasites? One camp comes up with the conclusion that the internal parasites,particularly roundworms (ascarid)and hookworms (ancylostomatids)are the more harmful for pet dogs in terms of risk and diffusion12. The opposing camp, Banfield of Oregon,however cites statistics in their survey of 2.2 million hospital records supporting the conclusion that fleas and other internal parasites present the greater risk13. The number of organizations, websites being put up and research being conducted on the issue is noteworthy. There is no dearth of funds, goodwill and passion in the pursuit of what is good for our pets and for all of us. It will be of tremendous help for all concerned if one camp continues to support the mitigation of the harm created by internal parasites as the others work on the harm created by worms and other internal parasitic menace to our pets’ health.
  • Prevalence - As cited earlier, compiled data gathered by researchers at Banfield Pet Hospital from 2.2 million health records of dog and cat visits in 755 hospitals show prevalence trends for internal and external    infections, although the external infections edged out the internal. A CDC report14, on the other hand, reports of a higher worm transmission from cats and dogs to humans, especially to children. Several other published reports are making similar conclusions. There is a trend of rising health risk from worms of dogs and cats, risk to the pets and risk to the human population.
  • Symptoms– The most common symptoms of worms in dogs are: coughing, weight loss, vomiting, changed appetite, pot belly, low energy, dull coat, frequent itching, rubbing of bottom in the ground, worms visible in fur or stool
  • Diagnosis – If you observe any of the symptomsthat your dog may be suffering from worm infestation, it will be prudent to obtain either a  fecal home test kit (for hookworms, roundworms, coccidia, whipworms, and occasionally tapeworms) or a blood home test kit (heartworm, lyme, or ehrlichia). These home tests are easy enough as you will only need to collect the samples and send them to the labs for analysis. All sample collection instructions are included in the kit.

Test Procedures:

  • Treatment – Treatment of worms in dogs, especially heartworm, and in case the infestation has already been going on for a long time, should be under theguidance of a veterinarian who is familiar with your dog’s particular case.There are medications that can be bought over the counter if the vet agrees, but it would be best if the treatment program is supervised by him. Some medications need to be repeated on a regular basis over a specified period of time. Others have to be repeated after a prescribed time interval. Unless you fully know what needs to be done, get professional help.
  • Prevention – Hygiene and close monitoring of your dog especially when eating, drinking and defecating are critical in the prevention of worm infestation. Always make sure the dog does not eat and drink contaminated food and water; clean up after he defecates and urinates; make sure that the dog receives preventive medication for external parasites and for heartworm. Save your dog and yourself enormous stresses, discomfort and expenses: Prevent not Treat!

Improve Dog Health and Longevity

A long happy, comfortable life - we wish it for ourselves, for family and friends, and we definitely wish it for our four-legged best friends!

  • Tips/Ways to Improve Dog Health

Treat your dog like he is your extension. Brush his teeth, clean his ears, bathe him, play with him, touch him, go for a walk with him. Watch his weight because obesity will predispose him to many illnesses. Aside from giving him healthy, non-fattening food, give your dog plenty of exercise.

  • Tips/Ways to Improve Dog Longevity

Keeping the dog healthy is the key to longevity. Learn the different genetic DNA illnesses of its breed and their symptoms and watch out for these symptoms. Keep home testing kits in the house so you can test your dog to verify observed signs of illness as needed. Have the number of your dog’s vet on speed dial. For a real shot at longer life, consider EnerchipVitaCell for Dogs. It supports stem cell vitality in dogs, multiplying and forming long life tissues, thereby re-energizing and extending your dog’s lifespan.

Current Dog Health News

  • Canine hydrotherapy - it enhances the mobility of Labradors suffering from elbow dysplasia. It also improves the strides of healthy dogs. Dr. Tate Preston and Dr. Alison Willis, Researchers at Hartpury University UK, brought to a hydrotherapy activity a small group of Labradors suffering from elbow dysplasia, a form of lameness in the forelimb due to genetic abnormal bone growth in the afflicted elbow. A small group of healthy dogs were also with them, serving as control group.

The Researchers discovered that hydrotherapy facilitated the movement of Labradors with elbow dysplasia after the swimming. The strides of the Labradors after the swimming showed significant improvement over the “before” strides. Remarkably, even the healthy dogs showed improvement after the swimming.  The research findings added support to the benefits derived from swimming. The researchers plan to replicate the experiment with a bigger group of Labrador and German Shepherd, the two breeds that are genetically prone to elbow dysplasia.

  • Pet Dogs De-stress Families with Autistic Children- Researchers of theUniversity of Lincoln, UK conducted a follow-up on a short-term study conducted two years earlier on the effects of a pet dog on families with autistic children. The earlier study showed significant improvement in the relationships of families who owned a dog as compared to those without dogs despite the stresses of dealing with autism in the family. This follow-up study aimed at finding out whether the improved relationships held over the two-year period. The researchers found that the effects of the dog were long-term. There was reportedly a positive relationship between the level of the stress of parenting among the child’s main caregiver and their positive attachment to the family dog, affirming the direct effect of the dog to the quality of relationships even among families stressed by the challenges of autism. The study provided strong evidence that owning a dog enhances family relationships.

Dogs have long been regarded as man’s best friends. They provide unconditional love, loyalty, and friendship to their owners. In return, dog owners are responsible for making sure that their pet is well-fed, properly groomed, and receives appropriate health care. Like humans, dogs are susceptible to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and urinary tract infection. If left undiagnosed and untreated, canine diabetes, canine urinary tract infection, and kidney disease can impair the normal functions of your pet and may lead to more serious health problems. 

Sources:

1https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/canine_life_stage_guidelines.pdf

2 http://www.caninejournal.com/dog-health-issues/

3 http://www.dogabetix.com/#!canine-diabetes-research/cnc0

4 http://www.1800petmeds.com/education/diabetes-in-dogs-cats-11.htm

5 https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-health/dog-diabetes-risk/

6http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-diabetes-symptoms-treatment#2

7 http://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/diabetes-mellitus-in-dogs

8 http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2114&aid=3572

9 http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/lower-urinary-tract-problems-infections-dogs?page=2

10 https://www.petcarerx.com/article/cat-and-dog-uti-treatment/264

11 http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2114&aid=350

12http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418564/

13http://www.banfield.com/pet-health-resources/preventive-care/parasites/fleas/protect-your-cat-against-fleas

14http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cdc-reports-prevalence-of-worms-transmitted-by-dogs-and-cats-to-humans-is-higher-than-previously-understood-58702072.html

 

For Further Reading:

http://www.caninejournal.com/diabetes-in-dogs/

http://www.testcountry.com/categories.html?cat=493

http://www.mypet.com/pet-diabetes/monitor.aspx

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/diabetes-complications-dogs-and-cats-diabetes-ketoacidosis

http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/urinary/c_dg_lower_urinary_tract_infection_bacterial

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC339174/

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/lower-urinary-tract-problems-infections-dogs

http://www.wikihow.com/Treat-Worms-in-Dogs