Common Illnesses in Dogs and Cats
Looking after a pet is a great responsibility, and along with the love and joy it brings, there’s also the upkeep of its welfare and wellbeing.
Just like us, dogs and cats are prone to illness. From hereditary traits in purebreds to common viruses picked up from the outside world, there are a number of common conditions they can be affected by. The good news is that many of these illnesses are preventable, or easy to resolve if discovered early on.
Here we look at just a few common ailments that both dogs and cats are prone to, and some of the remedies available.
Skin Conditions in Dogs and Cats
One of the more common illness in dogs and cats is skin conditions. Easy to catch and usually easy to treat, skin conditions can vary from fleas to ticks and all that’s in between.
Considering the outdoor environment that pets play in, it can be no surprise that from time-to-time, skin conditions will arise. However, on occasion, it may be the result of an underlying issue, and therefore professional veterinary advice should be sought.
Both cats and dogs are highly susceptible to fleas, which can result in scratching and skin irritation and bleeding. As such, it’s important to have a flea prevention collar and regular flea prevention treatment to avoid this.
Ringworm is another common fungal condition pets are prone to, which is highly contagious. It’s spread from animal to animal, as well as to humans through bowls, bedding, combs and other personal items. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting your pet’s belongings is one way to help prevent it, along with good upkeep of hygiene. This includes not letting your dog drink from a shared bowl. Indoor cats are less likely to contract these types of disease, due to less exposure.
In dogs specifically, skin allergies are the number one medical condition they are most likely to suffer from. Allergies can arise from pollen in plants to household products – look out for scratching, watering eyes and general discomfort.
Bladder or Urinary Tract Infection
According to research, urinary tract infections are highly common in cats and (less commonly) in dogs. This can materialize as blood in the urine, increased frequency of urination, constant licking of urinary opening, and crying in pain, among other symptoms.
A veterinarian will be able to make a diagnosis and prescribe a course of antibiotics if this is the case.
Sometimes urinary tract infections can happen for a number of reasons, from crystals, stones, injury and bacteria. Ensuring your pet has easy access to bathroom facilities and access to plenty of fresh water is of upmost importance.
A fairly common illness in cats and dogs is stomach upset. This is often the case of eating something they shouldn’t have, but could also be the result of food allergy (most cats are lactose intolerant), a viral infection, or ingesting toxins. Signs of an upset stomach can include; vomiting, diarrhea and even loss of appetite.
Since dogs have a natural instinct to scavenge, they can be more prone to this than cats.
However, it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure their pet enjoy a well-balanced diet that is specific to their nutritional needs. Top of the list is avoid feeding them scraps.
Pet owners should also be aware that certain household plants, like daffodils, lilies and tulips, can be poisonous to our four-legged friends. Since animals love to explore it is wise to exempt these from your household.
Affecting both cats and dogs equally are issues relating to oral hygiene. Periodontal disease affects the tissues that support teeth, and is hard to reverse once the damage is done. Bad breath can be a sign, as well as loose teeth and bleeding gums.
Dental disease can be the result of a pet’s diet, or poor oral maintenance, among other lesser factors.
However, since dental disease is easy to prevent, it’s therefore highly important to brush your pet’s teeth daily if possible, if not then at least three-times a week. You should also schedule in regular visits to your veterinarian as well.
Finally, arthritis can be an uncomfortable condition, which is the result of inflammation of the joints. It is more commonly seen in dogs than cats, but can be prevalent in either pet.
Contrary to popular belief, it can develop from a young age or be present in your pet’s senior years. It can be the result of bone and joint development, from trauma or, most likely in cats — just the aging process.
This often manifests as swelling in your pet, combined with fatigue and lethargy, and can be seen in overall reduced mobility and even limping. You may also notice some discomfort when your pet is in certain positions – a key indicator.
If your veterinary suspects your pet is suffering from arthritis, they may undertake a physical examination, requiring further tests to investigate fully.
However, arthritis can be treated in most cases.
Following a diagnosis, a bespoke care plan will be put together. This might include anti-inflammatory therapy, medication or alternative herbal remedies. Since it tends to be more of an issue with overweight pets, a revised diet may also be subscribed.