Common health issues in dogs and cats
With a high-quality and varied diet, enough exercise and regular check-ups at the vet, you can do a lot to look after your pet’s health. But even then, health issues may arise. We will discuss some common health issues in dogs and cats and offer some advice on how to deal with them.
Common health issues in dogs
Several factors are important to keep your dog healthy. You dog will need enough exercise to stay fit and confident. Another important aspect is a healthy and varied diet. Finally, you can reveal and address any issues in time by taking your dog to the vet for an annual check-up.
Some general, common health issues in dogs are:
- Hotspots: A hotspot is an open wound caused by excessive licking or biting of an itchy spot. Hotspots mostly occur on the abdomen and head, but they may occur in other places as well. A hotspot is a red spot that may bleed and is warm. It is important to treat this locally to prevent infection. Ask your vet for treatment advice. In any case, keep the region clean with lukewarm water, remove hair around the hotspot and make sure your pet can’t reach it so it can heal.
- Issues with the locomotor system: This includes different afflictions such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation. These joint issues get in the way of smooth movement. The most common example is hip dysplasia. Treatments include pain management and surgical intervention. If necessary, a joint may be replaced. Such operations are invasive and expensive.
- Twisted stomach: a twisted stomach or gastric torsion isn’t necessarily common, but it can be very dangerous if not treated immediately. A twisted stomach can be fatal and is extremely painful. It involves the dog’s stomach twisting around its axis. This causes the entry and exit of the stomach to close off and blood vessels to get constricted. You can recognize a twisted stomach by restless behaviour, vomiting without any discharge, whining and a swollen stomach. It is vital to take your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.
Common health issues in cats
We all want our cat to be in good health. As its owner, you can play an important part by providing a healthy and varied diet, coat and dental care, enough exercise and annual check-ups by a vet. Cats may experience various health issues, including:
- Bladder stones and bladder grit: bladder stones and bladder grit are common health issues in cats. It involves small or large crystals in the cat’s urine. The symptoms are similar to those of a bladder infection. Your cat will urinate frequently, the urine may contain blood and your cat will mew while urinating. Bladder grit can be treated with a special diet. Bladder grit (or stones) may clog up the urinary tract. If your cat tries to urinate but can’t, take it to a vet as quickly as possible.
- Abscesses due to fighting: outdoor cats may get into a confrontation with other cats in the neighbourhood. This will sometimes turn into a fight. The cats may inflict damage by scratching and biting each other. Bacteria from their nails or teeth can infect these wounds and such an infection may spread to other parts of the body and the wound itself may turn into an abscess; a cavity under the skin that fills with puss. The skin is swollen, red and may be warm. Consult a vet for treatment. If your cat suffered a wound during a fight, make sure you clean it immediately with lukewarm water and if possible, shave the hair around the wound.
Parasites in dogs
Dogs may suffer from all kinds of parasites, such as fleas, lice, ticks and worms. Some parasites will cause discomfort just by being there. Fleas, for example, cause a terrible itch and may even trigger an allergic reaction. But on top of that, parasites often act as hosts to all kinds of nasty diseases and other (internal) parasites that may, in turn, infect your dog. Luckily, there are all kinds of ways to combat parasites, such as regular deworming. Make sure to check your dog for ticks routinely and use (preventive) agents against fleas.
We wrote several informative blogs on these topics. Read all about:
Parasites in cats
Cats can suffer from parasites as well and once again, they may cause harmful health issues. There are different ways of protecting a cat against parasites and helping them when infected. Read all about it in the blogs below:
Vaccinating your dog
Some diseases are highly contagious and can be very dangerous to your dog. Particularly nasty and dangerous dog diseases include parvo, canine distemper and Weil’s disease. Luckily, you can have your dog vaccinated to protect it from these diseases. Several factors affect how long a vaccination will last. Pups will need more frequent basic vaccination than adult dogs and it also depends on the vaccine how long it will take to wane. You can choose to repeat vaccination after a certain period of time or perform a titre, which is a measurement of the amount of antibodies in the blood against a certain disease. If the titre count is too low, the vaccine can be repeated.
Read all about: vaccinating your dog
Vaccinating your cat
There are several cat diseases that we vaccinate for by default to prevent infection. The basic vaccination programme includes feline panleukopenia and cat flu. Other vaccines for cats include rabies, cat leukaemia (leucosis), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and chlamydiosis (i.e. chlamydophila felis).
Outdoor cats have a higher infection risk than indoor cats. But you, the owner, can also bring certain diseases into the home. That is why it is always recommended to give your cat the basic vaccination programme. Vaccination is required annually for cat flu and once every three years for feline panleukopenia. Alternatively, you can have the vet check your cat’s titre count to find out if it needs another round of vaccination.
Read all about: vaccinating your cat
The health of your senior dog
Just like in humans, the health of animals begins to deteriorate as they grow older. A common health issues in senior dogs is arthrosis. This affliction occurs when their joints begin to wear and it makes it more difficult for them to move around. It cannot be cured but you can slow down the process and ease the pain by treating it early. A senior dog requires different care than a young dog. Read all about how to make your dog’s final stages of life as pleasant as possible in the blog ‘Caring for a senior dog’.
The health of your senior cat
As the years pass and your cat grows a bit older, old-age ailments may show up. They may be innocent and relatively harmless, but other health issues can affect a senior cat to a greater degree. Cats may develop arthrosis, for example, which can be recognised by slower movement or the cat avoiding difficult to reach places. Arthrosis cannot be cured but the wear can be slowed down and the pain managed with treatment. A vet can help you handle the situation as best as you can.
Another common health issue in senior cats is kidney failure. It can be recognised by excessive drinking and urinating. Other symptoms include vomiting and reduced appetite. Kidney failure may have many different causes. It is recommended to consult a vet for a fitting advice and treatment. Other health issues that may affect a senior cat include diabetes, an overly active thyroid and dental issues. Read all about how to care for a senior cat in the blog “What to watch for in a senior cat?”