Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

The rupture of the cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury in the dog.

This injury has two common presentations. One is the young athletic dog playing roughly who acutely ruptures the ligament and is non-weight bearing on the affected hind leg. The second presentation is the older, overweight dog with weakened or partially torn ligaments that rupture with a slight misstep. In this patient the lameness may be acute or there may be more subtle chronic lameness related to prolonged joint instability.

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Roundworms

There are many types of roundworms, but some of the most common are intestinal parasites of dogs, cats, and raccoons.  Puppies are frequently born with roundworms, and kittens can be infected via the mother’s milk or feces. Adult roundworms are ivory colored, four to six inches long, and round (not flat ) in shape.  These parasites can cause diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and even coughing in these young patients. In the usual case, the owner will not see the adult roundworms passed in the stool.  This is why it is important for the veterinarian to do a laboratory test to check for any parasites that might be present. We check for parasite eggs with a  microscope.  You should bring a fresh stool sample (one that was produced that day) to your puppy or kitten’s appointment.

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Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral infection that is transmitted primarily through bite wounds. Skunks, bats, raccoons, and foxes are the primary carriers. Rabies is also fatal to humans, there has been only one case of a person surviving rabies when treatment was started after clinical signs were present. Puppies are vaccinated when three to four months of age and then one year later.

Each state varies in its rabies law, most states require rabies vaccine every three years for adult pets, but some states still require them annually. If a person or a pet is bitten by an unknown or unvaccinated animal(dog, cat, or wild animal), the local health department or your veterinarian should be consulted.

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Parasites

There are many types of parasites that are found in the GI tract of cats and dogs. Worms such as roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms are very common in almost all parts of the world. These parasites shed their infective eggs in the pet’s stool and contaminate the environment; some eggs can live on yards or fields for years. The eggs are ingested by the pet and the life cycle is completed when the worm grow into an adult in the intestine of a new host.

Tapeworms are another very common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats. This parasite is different though, in that it requires transmission through an intermediate host, most commonly a flea. Other intermediate hosts can be mice, rats, or rabbits. The dog or cat eats the intermediate host containing the tapeworm egg, and the tapeworm completes its life cycle to develop into an adult in the intestine of the dog or cat. The intermediate host is required, if a pet eats an adult tapeworm or tapeworm segment, it will not cause tapeworms to grow in its intestine.

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Obesity

Excess weight is a serious health problem for dogs and cats and is common in many countries. The two main causes of obesity are too much food and too little exercise. Other contributing factors can be due to hormonal influences, certain genetic factors, and other disease processes.

If you pet is carrying extra weight, it can:

  1. Increase the risk of heart disease by forcing the heart to work harder.
  2. Increase the risk of arthritis as extra weight can stress the joints, cause joint pain, and make it harder for your pet to move around comfortably.
  3. Obesity can cause breathing problems, skin and hair coat problems.
  4. Especially in cats, obesity frequently leads to diabetes.

All of these problems can make your pet uncomfortable and limit the way they interact with you and other family members.

Treatment is to rule out and treat any medical causes, such as hypothyroidism. Reducing caloric intake and increasing exercise can help your pet successfully lose weight. Lifestyle changes and a weight loss program are essential. Your veterinarian can help determine if your pet is too heavy and provide guidelines for achieving their ideal weight. Slentrol is an oral weight loss drug for obese dogs that are not able to lose weight by other means.

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Mites

There are many types of mites that infect dogs, cats, and other animals. Mites are microscopic arthropod parasites that, for the most part, infect the skin or mucous membranes. Mites can even be present on birds and reptiles. The most common mites that infect dogs and cats are ear mites, Demodex, scabies, and Cheyletiella.

Ear mites are very common on cats and are occasionally seen on dogs. They live primarily in the ear canals and can cause severe irritation. They are easily transmitted between pets, so if they are found in one pet, all pets in contact should be treated. A different species of ear mite can infect rabbits.

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Luxating Patella

Luxating patella is a condition where the kneecap (patella) moves out of its normal position. Luxating patella is one of the most common knee joint abnormalities of dogs, but it is only occasionally seen in cats. It may affect one or both of the knees. In some cases it moves (luxates) towards the inside of the knee, and in other cases it luxates towards the outside of the knee. Luxation to the inside of the knee is the most common form seen; it is most commonly seen in the small or miniature breeds of dogs such as Poodles, Maltese, Yorkies, and Chihuahuas. Luxations towards the outside of the knee are seen less frequently. It can be present in many breeds, but is seen especially in Newfoundlands.

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Liver Shunt

A liver shunt is also named a PSS, portosystemic shunt, portacaval shunt or portosystemic vascular anomaly. This abnormality occurs when a pet’s venous blood from the intestine bypasses the liver. In the normal pet, blood vessels pick up nutrients from ingested material in the intestine and carry it to the liver to be processed. In the case of a shunt, an abnormal blood vessel carries this blood around the liver and dumps the nutrients directly into the general circulation. Toxins build up in the bloodstream as a result. The pet can be born with the shunt (congenital) or can develop it later (acquired).

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Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a serious, life-threatening disease caused by a spiral shaped bacteria. Dogs, cats, other animals and even people can be infected through exposure to urine, bite wounds, ingestion of infected flesh, or contact with contaminated soil, water and even bedding. Certain environmental conditions can favor the bacteria: standing water, rain, floods and warm moist weather. Pets living under these conditions, especially those who live primarily outdoors or are used for activities like hunting or herding are at a higher risk of being infected. The bacteria can quickly spread through the body causing symptoms like fever, joint pain, excessive drinking and general malaise. Eventually the bacteria settle in the kidneys or liver where it rapidly multiplies leading to organ inflammation, organ failure and possibly death.

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the natural deficiency of thyroid hormone and is the most common hormone imbalance of dogs. This deficiency is produced by several different mechanisms. The most common cause (at least 95% of cases) is immune destruction of the thyroid gland.  It can also be caused by natural atrophy of the gland, by dietary iodine deficiency, neoplasia (primary or metastatic) of the thyroid gland or (rarely) as a congenital problem. Hypothyroidism is most common in medium to large breeds of dogs that are middle aged (4 to 10 years) but can occur in any dog.

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