Pets - cancer - lyme - tick

Pet treatment for cancer, lyme disease, ticks and others. Health advice.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Signs of Ill Health

Only a healthy pet is a happy companion. Assuring your pet's daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health. The American Veterinary Medical Association therefore suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:

- Abnormal discharges from the nose, eyes, or other body openings Loss of appetite, marked weight losses or gains, or excessive water consumption Difficult, abnormal, or - uncontrolled waste elimination Abnormal behavior, sudden viciousness, or lethargy

- Abnormal lumps, limping, or difficulty getting up or lying down Excessive head shaking, scratching, and licking or biting any part of the body Dandruff, loss of hair, open sores, and a ragged or dull coat. Foul breath or excessive tarter deposits on teeth


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How Common is Cancer? Cancer is common in pet animals, and the rate increases with age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age.

How is it Diagnosed?Strong circumstantial evidence of cancer can be attained from x-rays, blood tests, the physical appearance of the cancer, or the physical signs caused by the cancer. Most cancers, however, will require a biopsy (removal of a piece of tissue) for confirmation.

Is Cancer Preventable? Some cancer, such as breast cancer, is largely preventable with early spaying. Unfortunately, the cause of most cancers is not known and therefore prevention is difficult.

Common Signs of Cancer in Pets

Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow Sores that do not heal Weight loss Loss of appetite Bleeding or discharge from any body opening Offensive odor Difficulty eating or swallowing Hesitance to exercise or loss of stamina Persistent lameness or stiffness Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating Many of the above signs are also seen with non cancerous conditions but still warrant prompt attention by your veterinarian to determine the cause. Cancer is frequently treatable, and early diagnosis will aid your veterinarian in delivering the best care possible.
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Common Types of Cancer in Pets
- Skin - Skin tumors are very common in older dogs, but much less common in cats. Most skin tumors in cats are malignant, but in dogs they are often benign. All skin tumors should be examined by your veterinarian.
- Breast - Fifty percent of all breast tumors in dogs and 85% of all breast tumors in cats are malignant. Spaying your pet between 6 and 12 months of age will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Surgery is the treatment of choice for this type of cancer.
- Head & Neck - Cancer of the mouth is common in dogs and less common in cats. A mass on the gums, bleeding, odor, or difficult eating are signs to watch for. Many swellings are malignant, so early aggressive treatment is essential. Cancer may develop inside the nose of both cats and dogs. Bleeding from the nose, difficulty breathing, or facial swelling may occur.
- Lymphoma - Lymphoma is a common form of cancer in dogs and cats. It is characterized by enlargement of one or many lymph nodes in the body. A virus causes most of these cancers in cats. Chemotherapy is frequently effective in controlling this type of cancer.
- Feline Leukemia Complex - The feline leukemia virus is contagious among cats and will occasionally cause true cancer. There is no proof that it is contagious to humans. While a great deal of research is ongoing, no consistently effective treatment is presently available for virus-positive cats.
- Testicles - Testicular tumors are rare in cats and common in dogs, especially those with retained testes. Most of these cancers are curable with surgery.
- Abdominal Tumors - Tumors inside the abdomen are common. It is difficult to make an early diagnosis. Weight loss and abdominal enlargement are common signs of these tumors.
- Bone - Bone tumors are most commonly seen in large breed dogs and rarely in cats. The leg bones, near joints, are the most common sites. Persistent lameness and swelling of the leg is an early sign of disease.

How is it Treated? Each cancer requires individual care. Your veterinarian may use surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing), hyperthermia (heating) or immunotherapy to effectively treat cancers. Combination therapy is commonly employed.

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What is the Success Rate? This depends strongly on the type and extent of the cancer as well as the aggressiveness of therapy. Some cancers can be cured, and almost all patients can be helped to some degree. Your veterinarian will have a better chance to control or cure your pet's cancer if it is detected early.

Lyme Disease Top

What Is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease is an infectious disease syndrome spread primarily by a tick no larger than the head of a pin. It is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called a spirochete that is transmitted to animals and humans by the bite of the tick. In people, Lyme disease can appear similar to other diseases such as flu or Alzheimer's disease. If untreated, it can lead to joint damage and heart and neurologic complications. In animals, the disease can mimic flu-like symptoms and can lead to joint damage, heart complications and kidney problems.
What Are The Symptoms? Lyme disease is not easy to detect for there are a variety of symptoms. Clinical signs may not appear for a long period after initial infection.
Animals seldom develop the rash that commonly occurs in people with Lyme disease. The common clinical signs in animals are fever, inappetence, acute onset of lameness with no history of trauma, and arthralgia. These can develop within weeks of initial infection. Recurring lameness, lymphadenopathy, glomerulonephritis, or myocarditis can develop weeks to months later. In addition to these signs, cows and horses may have chronic weight loss, abortions, and laminitis-like signs.
How Is It Diagnosed? Diagnosis is based primarily on recognition of the typical symptoms of Lyme disease and by blood testing. It should be noted that early in the disease, the blood test can be negative even though the disease is present. Only with later disease does the test become reliably positive.
What Is The Treatment? Antibiotics — tetracycline, penicillin and erythromycin — have been shown to be effective in treating the disease in both animals and humans in the early stages. If detected early enough, there is almost complete relief of pain and lameness within 24 hours of initial treatment in animals. Chronic cases of the disease respond much slower and require longer periods of treatment.
How Can It Be Prevented?Knowledge of where these ticks are found, avoidance of such areas, and, if bitten, prompt removal of the tick are the primary preventive measures. Vaccines are available to protect dogs. Consult with your veterinarian for advice regarding vaccination of your animal.

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Internal Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms can make a home inside your pet and rob your animal of vital nutrients, leading to poor appetite, loss of energy, serious anemia, and even death. Puppies and kittens are especially susceptible. Parasite infestation can be controlled and prevented. Your veterinarian can tell you about the extent of the parasite problem in your area. Simple diagnostic procedures can be performed.
Toxoplasmosis is a related disease.

External ParasitesGeneral InformationFrom time to time most pets have parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, or mites. It's simply in the nature of things, parasites being parasites. The pests abound everywhere; therefore, their presence is not a disgraceful reflection on one's living habits. It is, of course, not necessary simply to accept such a state of affairs. Because external parasites can be extremely irritating to a pet and cause serious skin disorders or even disease, you have an obligation to rid your pet of these unwelcome guests if they are infested with them.
Yet external parasites, like squatters, are tenacious and difficult to "evict." They are not always discernible to the unpracticed eye and are therefore sometimes present in great numbers before you become aware of them. If you find your pet scratching frequently, or if you discover bald spots or inflammation of his skin, chances are your pet is playing host to an army of non-paying boarders. And it's high time for you to take him to the veterinarian.

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The Adaptable Flea

The flea is an acrobatic pest that is adept at finding a warm place to live, jumping readily from dogs to cats or even human beings. The life cycle of the flea is about 30 days. The eggs are dormant in cool weather, but, with the advent of milder days, they hatch into worm-like larvae which eventually become fleas. The best way to rid your pet of fleas is to see a veterinarian for advice. They may recommend powders, sprays, dips, specially treated collars, or even tablets to be taken internally — whatever the veterinarian's prescription, you should take care to follow their instructions exactly.
It will do little good to rid the pet's body of fleas if you don't simultaneously cleanse their sleeping quarters and other equipment. Aerosol sprays can be used for this purpose with excellent results. Regular and thorough vacuum cleaning of the pet's living area also helps to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae. Getting rid of fleas not only makes your pet more comfortable, it also reduces their chances of acquiring tapeworms since many fleas harbor tapeworm eggs.

Lice Not Nice

Lice are not just aesthetically unpleasant, and therefore, not "nice" but, they can become a source of danger for your pet — especially to puppies. Often dogs with just a few lice are very "itchy," while those harboring thousands of lice may not scratch themselves at all. So small they escape notice, some lice penetrate the pet's skin and suck the blood. The females will lay eggs which in just three weeks will hatch and develop into adult lice.
The constant blood-sucking, if extensive, can cause severe anemia in puppies and greatly weaken mature dogs, particularly females with nursing puppies. The pest can also be a source of irritation to cats and kittens.
Your veterinarian is your best resource to detect and eventually eliminate this dangerous parasite.

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Mites and Manges

Mange is caused by another type of external parasite — the mite. Fortunately, mange is rare in the well-fed, well-kept cat.
In dogs, two types of mange are the most common: DEMODECTIC mange or "red mange," and SARCOPTIC mange or "scabies." They may be present at any time of the year.
Dogs suffering from demodectic mange usually do not scratch. This mange is most common in young short-haired animals and is marked in the early stages by small areas of hairlessness, accompanied by a red, irritated appearance. In sarcoptic mange, a severe itching is usually observed, with consequent skin irritation and loss of hair. This type of mange is contagious to people as well as to other dogs and therefore should be checked as soon as possible.
It should be remembered that mange is more serious than a simple skin irritation or abrasion or a source of discomfort to your dog — though it certainly is that. Both of these manges are serious skin diseases that can lead to complications such as severe skin infections. Veterinarians usually treat mange by clipping, medicated baths or sprays, as well as oral medication or injections.

The Tenacious Tick

The hardiest and perhaps the most "pesky" of the external parasites is the tick which has the innocent appearance of a small wart or seed. Hosting the tick is the price the dog or the cat must pay for investigating the mysteries of the shrubbery or wild undergrowth, for that is where your pet most likely acquires these pests.

Be sure and look for ticks during the daily grooming of your pet and pick off any you see — a trick that can be mastered with a little practice. Ticks are most apt to bed down in the neck area, between the toes, in the ears, and in the folds between the legs and the body.

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To remove a tick, use small tweezers to firmly grip the tick's mouth parts as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight outward. Apply an antiseptic to the bitten area. After removing, destroy the tick by immersing it in alcohol. Save the tick, marking the date it was found on the body, in the event that symptoms arise and identification of the tick becomes necessary.

If your dog has been in an area where the tick is found, or if you have found a tick on its body and it develops any of the symptoms mentioned above, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination, blood test and possible treatment. The blood test may have to be repeated several months later. It would be wise, whether or not you have found a tick on your dog, to have it tested in the spring and fall to assure yourself that your pet does not have Lyme Disease.

It is not as easy to detect ticks on horses and cows, particularly in herds, but horse owners and farmers should be alert to any sudden onset of fever, lameness, abortions, laminitis-like signs or chronic weight loss in their animals and should consult with their veterinarian for evaluation.

If you have been in an area where the tick is found, or if you have found a tick on your body and develop any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should see your physician for evaluation and treatment.

Enlist the aid of your veterinarian in your tick eradication campaign. Dipping your pet at frequent intervals in a medicated compound is the most common method of getting rid of ticks.

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Spraying the grass and bushes with a chemical solution recommended by your veterinarian is often very effective in eliminating ticks, as is a frequent cleaning of your pet's belongings and sleeping quarters. Ticks as well as fleas may infest the home and become a major nuisance.
Allowed to thrive unchecked, ticks may cause serious skin infections or paralysis. Some ticks serve as carriers of serious diseases to pets and humans.

Ear Mites

Ear mites can be a source of severe annoyance and disease. They are common in dogs and cats. These mites spend most of their life in the ears. Often an animal can be severely infested with the pests before there is any outward sign of their presence. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian regularly examine your pet's ears.

If an ear mite infestation is ignored it will almost always be followed by a bacterial infection because the bacteria find easy access to living tissue through the holes left by the mites. Such an infection can spread deep into the ear and eventually penetrate the brain causing convulsions and death.

Ear mites are very irritating. They often cause the animal to scratch to the point where it tears out all of the hair and creates bleeding sores around the ears. Scratching can result in reinfestation with mites from the paw or tail. Consult your veterinarian about methods for treating infested animals.

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