Understanding Illnesses (Part II)

Part II in the series of understanding illnesses. This covers:

  • Dehydration and Bladder Problems
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Epilepsy

D

Dehydration and Bladder problems: Just like people, our pets require more drinking water than we think. Pets that don’t drink enough water and are fed only dry food are more susceptible to urinary blockage/bladder problems (especially neutered males). Less intake of water also causes dehydration. Pets cannot drink in large gulps and thus, they have to drink frequently.

Dehydration can cause your pets to lose crucial electrolytes and minerals such as potassium and sodium, that are needed to transmit electrical impulses throughout the body. Giving plain water to your pet will replace most electrolytes and you can help your pet recover from dehydration. A quicker way to replenish electrolytes is by giving her something as easy as salt water (of course most pets dislike it). Standard products like Electrolyte and Getorade are also recommended. If your pet has trouble in keeping fluids, which happens when they have gone a long time without water, an ice cube to lick on can do the trick. Licking the ice cube slowly will hydrate her system gradually. Also, ice cubes can be made more interesting by freezing them with tit-bits of her favourite food/kibble/cheese/liver.

In this October heat, it is important to ensure that your pet is not dehydrated. Ensuring proper intake of water and good wholesome moistly food can save your pet from the scorching heat. Some cat & dog owners switch their pets to a more moist pet food during the hot season.

Drooling: Drooling is excessive salivation. Some breeds drool because of the way their lower lip is formed like the St. Bernard, Boxers, Mastiffs. This is fine. In other breeds, however, drooling could be a sign of something wrong. Something stuck in the gums or jaw, gum diseases like tartar & gingivitis, motion sickness, stress, physical discomfort or pain and lastly rabies could be a few reasons for such salivation.

If a dog may not be able to remove a piece of a chewing or meat bone when stuck in the mouth, seek vet help immediately, for if your pet tires removing it, it may cause an internal cut and bleeding. Physical pain such as swelling, intestinal troubles may lead to stress and a dog may drool. Stress caused in a kennel or vet clinic environment is also very common. Do mention to the kennel owners that you’re pet might go under stress. Your pet’s vet may also suggest a calming medication which will relieve him/her to a certain extent. Motion sickness also causes the dog to drool (a lot at times) before vomiting. To avoid motion sickness,

  • Feed your pet atleast 3-4 hours before travel time
  • Keep the windows open for the fresh air to come in
  • Give him/her a chew bone for distraction.
  • Motion sickness tablets like Stemetil may work in some cases.

Lastly, as mentioned Rabies (though not very common) causes excessive drooling.

Diarrhea: This is one such disease which will affect your pet at least once in his/her lifetime. Though very common, the reasons why it may occur can largely vary. Food allergies;  licking any surface which probably was contaminated  with germs, pest control, other dog excreta; worms; unclean food bowls, bad water and the list could go on. What is most important is to understand the reason why it could have happened.

If it is something that your pet has ingested and not gone down too well with his system may cause loose motions. In such a case, make sure you notice the colour of his stools, the frequency, any blood discharge and the consistency (watery or semi soft). All this information is going to come handy when you take your pet to the doctor. If your pet is unable to retain food in his stomach, and you don’t have access to a vet immediately, make sure you keep him hydrated with fresh water (wash the bowl every time you fill it) mixed with a bit of salt and sugar.

If it’s a very small indigestion issue, a Lomotil tablet may also solve it. If your dog is passing motions inspite of NOT eating anything, (motions will be colourless and watery), see a vet immediately, as it maybe an internal bacterial infection and will have to be treated by antibiotics.

Plain buttermilk, curds, chicken stock are also good sources on hydration and your pet could easily lap it up. If you notice the stools forming, gradually start your regular diet, but after this it relapses, seek vet help as it may be the beginning of bigger issue.

E

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is commonly referred to as fits or seizures. Seizures can be caused by many conditions:

Low oxygen levels caused by anemia; heart problems; breathing disorders; liver or kidney failures; high or low blood glucose levels, any trauma resulting in high stress/anxiety. Seizures are defined as a condition resulting due to the uncoordinated firing of neurons in the cerebrum. A dog rarely becomes vicious during a seizure. In fact, most dogs will actually feel the seizure coming on and seek out the  owner for comfort. During the actual seizure, he is mostly unaware of his surroundings so it does little good for the owner to try to comfort the seizuring dog. It is best to be there for comfort when the dog  recovers. When a fit

ends the dog may quickly recover its normal behaviour, get to its feet, and seem perfectly all right. There might be a slight dis-orientation or you might notice lack of coordination which shouldn’t last for more than 5-10 minutes. Make sure you observe well when your dog is undergoing a fit, as your vet is going to ask you a series of questions like duration, behavior pre and post seizure, any pattern in the occurrence like post exercise, after a kennel stay, after food etc.

Epilepsy unfortunately cannot be cured. The aim is always to reduce the frequency, severity and duration of the fit. Homeopathy medication is also very effective in most cases. If your pet is prone to seizures, just make sure you never skip a dosage. A quick guideline on what to do when your pet has a seizure:

  • Remain calm
  • Do not put your hand in his mouth as you might get bitten when he is coming out of it
  • Do not crowd around him. Clear the area and be there to comfort him with constant petting
  • Closely observe your dogs’ reactions and movements
  • Call your vet if the seizures last for more than 3 minutes or is repeated within a short interval
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