Understanding Illnesses (Part I)

Tick fever, Bloat, Flatulence, Maggot infection, Allergic Dermatitis, Puriritus.. Are these words familiar to you? I’m sure you have heard atleast one of these during your visit to the vet. Some words are even difficult to pronounce, and oh!! The treatements,,you wish you had taken precautions. However, some are infections you can easily trace the reasons and some can only be known through a lot of medical investigation. With some illnesses, the symptoms are in your face..but in some, you might miss out on them.
In our newsletter, we would like to introduce to you some common illnesses in a canine’s life. Some big words simplified and a basic understanding of what your vet means when he says “Otitis Externa”. Although most names are identifiable to something similar in humans, their treatments may differ. Read on to figure out how to understand the symptoms and familiarize with what the vet is saying to you– without panicking!!

A

Allergies: Yes! Pets are prone to allergies, jut like us. Dust, pollen and food are some of the reasons for allergies to occur. Identifying allergic reactions in your loving pet dog can be  very difficult. Also identifying the allergen causing it, is a trial and error process. Usually, when every other diagnosis fails, an allergy is usually the conclusion. Here are some typical symptoms of the common allergies:

Food allergies– Food allergies may be caused when your pet becomes sensitive to certain type of food. Symptoms can be as varied, such as dry skin, recurring dandruff, constant skin scratching/biting, vomiting, loose motions, and diarrhea. Food allergies, once identified are usually dealt with a method knows as exclusion diet. In this method, the diet of your pet is altered, by isolating each food variety. The food that you feed your dog is put in to different combinations and fed so as to see if the allergic reaction is showing. Please note that any diet has to be followed for a considerable time span (minimum 2 weeks) before the results start showing. Once identified, its best to put your pet on a natural diet, which is healthy, without any preservatives and nutritious. It will help your dog live a healthy life.

Skin allergies– These can also typically have the same symptoms related to skin dryness, dandruff, unusual hair loss, patchy hair loss, swelling. Identifying such an allergy is a tedious process, so, it is better to avoid them. Dusting your pet’s bed/mattress everyday regular washing can help greatly. If there is some construction work going on in your area, s/he might develop an allergy to cement ash. So make sure his coat and bedding are cleaned and dusted everyday to avoid such allergies.

Anal Gland Infection: Anal glands or Anal Sacs are located on both sides of the anus under the skin surface. These are small ducts which canines use for territory marking and for recognizing canine friends- each scent is unique. (Skunks use them as a defense mechanism). Everytime a dog passes his stools; he puts some amount on pressure on the glands and releases his scent. This is smelt by other dogs and they know who was in their area. For various reasons like stool softness or the thickness of the gland secretions, the anal glands and ducts often clog up referred to as “Impacting”. If the dog is continually licking/scratching/biting near his tail or anal area or rubbing his anal area on the ground, it can be mis-understood as a problem cause by worms and most often, you might give your pet de-worming tablets.

At such times, the glands need to be cleaned, referred to as “Expressed”. In the smaller breeds, expressing needs to be done more regularly. Impacted glands for a long time, may result in bacterial infections, however this does not affect the overall health of a dog. Continuous scratching and biting may also cause external injury or skin soreness. The infection can be cured with antibiotics and a high fiber diet may be recommended. Impacting can occur in older as well as younger dogs. To avoid it, make sure you’ve expressed the glands every 2 months.

Acidity: A dog suffering from acidity usually vomits gastric fluids. It is usually yellow bile like substance, possibly with bits of undigested food in it. The first sign is when a dog is looking for grass, check if he has a rumbling stomach, lack of appetite or loose motions. A vet may advise you regular antacids to be administered before meal timings. Keep these in your pet’s First Aid box. Acidity can be dealt with by giving your pet an easy to digest diet which is not too hard on its system. A diet of curd rice, buttermilk works great. If acidity is a common occurrence with your pet,

1. Keep a watch on his diet and observe if he has developed an allergy to anything particular

2. Long hours between meals may also cause it for some dogs

3. On his regular walks keep a check on if he is eating weeds along with grass.

Asthma: Dogs can get asthma just like humans. Hereditary respiratory tract problems, allergies can cause asthma in dogs. Regular symptoms are wheezing, difficulty in breathing. Pets who have been diagnosed with asthma and are over weight, need to shed the  excess weight as overweight animals have harder time breathing. Use a humidifier as dry weather/air irritates the air passage. If you, owner, smokes, we suggest you stop or at the most avoid it around your pet.

Yastimadhu (refer to Himalaya medicine), also known as Meluthi, has been widely used for respiratory disorders. It soothes the throat and helps in removing spasm of respiratory muscles. It is also useful in throwing out mucus from the respiratory tract.

B

Bloat (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus [GDV]): Bloat is a medical condition where in, gas gets trapped in the stomach and the dog cannot release it. The stomach gets filled with air and in turn puts pressure on the other organs. This can be life-threatening and needs immediate vet attention. High risk of bloating is in dogs:

* who have one meal per day

* with a narrow and deep chest as the Irish Setters, Great Dane or Weimaraners

* whose diet consists of dry kibble/dry dog food (this goes and expands in the stomach)

* which are higher in the age bracket

The most obvious symptoms of bloat are a swollen and tight stomach, consistent retching and the inability to vomit anything. Rapid shallow breathing coupled with lots of salivation is also another clear symptom.

There is no specific way to treat bloat, but following these rules may prevent your pet from it

* Do not exercise right after meal time

* If your pup is gobbling down his food, feed him smaller quantities are lesser intervals

* If he eats dry food, make sure there is enough water after every meal

C

Car Sickness: Most of us love taking our pets out on family vacations and drives and car trips are not associated just with the vet visit. But all the enthusiasm comes to a full stop, if your pet has motion sickness. Motion sickness in pets is similar to motion sickness in humans. It is caused due to the inner ear problems or because of nervous anxiety. Some dogs may even salivate a lot or vomit. Another reason is that pets may not sit facing front, or are in a carrier too big which does not allow them to balance properly and therefore get jostled around with every jerk and speed breaker. A few ways to deal with motion sickness:

* Keep the window open and let fresh air in.

* Fasten the dog with the leash which does not allow too much movement while he is in the car

* Do not feed atleast 2 hours before getting in the car.

* Check with your vet on medication to be administered a few hours before you begin your travel

* On very long journeys, make sure you give your pet a break by stopping every few hours

* In some cases, giving your dog something to chew on, like a chewing bone, might work, just as we chew on gum. This takes his mind off the car journey.

Cherry Eye: Dogs have a third eyelid located in the corner of its eye. You can observe it especially when dogs sleep- a skin like cover on their eyes. When this eyelid has collapsed out of the protected position, it would normally appear as a red mass in the eye- known as “cherry eye”. This collapse exposes the third eyelid and the tear gland  to the environment which may cause dryness and further lead to swelling and redness. It looks like a small red cherry, and hence the name. Some studies say that this collapse happens due to a weak connecting tissue. This condition does not allow the blood to circulate properly hindering the tear gland to function properly. Although the red gland in eye looks very dangerous the condition is not painful at all.

Cocker Spaniel, St. Bernard, Neopolitan Mastiff, and Lhasa Apso are most susceptible to Cherry eye. Surgery is usually the option for treatment of Cherry Eye. Surgery should be aimed towards partial removal, repositioning of the gland or complete removal in case of re-occurrence. Partial removal helps in keeping some part of the tear gland intact. Repositioning works in some cases, but there is a chance of re-occurrence which may finally result in a complete removal. Removal basically leads to dryness and daily eye drops is the only way to retain the moisture in the eyes.


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