Disease Prevention


ACL/CCL Tear, Cruciate Tear

Definitions

ACL: Anterior Cruciate Ligament

CCL: Cranial Cruciate Ligament (Often used interchangeably with ACL)

Ligament: Tissue connecting two bones within a joint

The ACL is a ligament connecting the femur (long bone between the hip and the knee) to the tibia (bone between knee and ankle). It helps to support the knee joint. A cruciate tear happens when an animal causes trauma to the joint (a twisting motion with the foot planted). Animals that have conformation abnormalities or are obese are at higher risk. There is some research indicating that the potential for an ACL tear could be hereditary.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Often animals that have a partial or complete tear of the ACL will be non weight bearing on a rear limb. Some animals may develop swelling around the joint. Depending on the severity of the disease process, some animals may show muscle wasting or atrophy.

Treatment

In large breed dogs, the treatment of choice is to stabilize the joint capsule with surgery. There are multiple forms of surgery available. Some small dogs do okay with more conservative treatment, but others may benefit from surgical stabilization. Rehabilitation of the limb including swimming, massage, and passive range of motion exercises to build up muscles. Medication to decrease swelling and discomfort as well as supplements such as glucosamine are beneficial. Before starting any supplements for your pet, please speak with one of our veterinarians.

Prevention

Keeping animals trim or at ideal weight can help prevent severity of the disease process, and avoid breeding animals with conformation abnormalities.


Arthritis

Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is inflammation of a joint. This can often lead to progressive deterioration of a joint. Arthritis can occur in any joint in the body including but not limited to: hips, knees, jaw, vertebrae (spine/back). Animals that have underlying disease processes, like hip dysplasia, are at a risk of developing arthritis. Other causes can include trauma, infection, and abnormal conformation of joints. Radiographs, or x-rays, can help evaluate the extent of arthritis.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Animals with arthritis commonly have decreased activity levels, will refuse to exercise, have difficulty rising after rest, experience difficulty going up or down stairs, will be reluctant to jump, or will exhibit limping or lameness. Some animals may have a change in behavior, becoming more irritable or protective of sore joints, and cats may have trouble using the litter box.

Treatment

Depending on the underlying cause, conservative treatment is available. Rehabilitation of the limb including swimming, massage, and passive range of motion exercises to build up muscles helps to decrease discomfort. Medication to decrease swelling and discomfort as well as supplements such as glucosamine are beneficial. Weight loss for overweight animals is very valuable. Treatment of the underlying cause helps to prevent arthritis from advancing. Special diets, like Science Diet’s J/D, or Iams Joint formula have shown to decrease need for medications in some animals.

Prevention

Keeping animals trim or at ideal weight can help prevent severity of the disease process. Avoid breeding animals that have conformation abnormalities to help prevent disease in younger animals.


Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which an animal has a chronic elevated blood glucose (or blood sugar) due to insulin deficiency in the body. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that turns sugar into fuel for the body. No exact cause of diabetes has been identified, however animals that are obese, have underlying diseases, are taking certain medications, or have a genetic predisposition, are at higher risk for developing this disease. Diagnosis for diabetes mellitus can be determined by a complete exam, blood screening and/or urine testing with a veterinarian.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs of diabetes mellitus include but are not limited to increased urination, increased drinking, increased appetite, weight loss, cataracts and vomiting. Always discuss any abnormalities with your pet’s veterinarian.

Treatment

Although there is no cure for diabetes, treatment to help manage the disease is available. Typically pets with diabetes mellitus are regulated on daily (or twice daily) injections of insulin, as well as a special diet. New therapies with cats have shown great promise with some cats going into diabetic remission (no longer needing insulin injections).

Prevention

Do not breed animals with inherited diabetes. It is important not to let your pet become obese for many reasons other than to help prevent diabetes, so discuss how to manage your pet’s weight with a veterinarian.


Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint, leading to degeneration or deterioration (excessive wear and tear) of the bones and cartilage. This is the start of arthritis. Hip dysplasia is common in large breed dogs, but can occur in smaller breeds as well as cats. Radiographs of the hip joints can help a doctor diagnose hip dysplasia. The doctor may recommend completing PENN Hip or OFA radiographs. Pets that have a genetic predisposition are at high risk for developing hip dysplasia, especially in dog breeds like St. Bernards, German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers, and cats that are purebred. Young pets that experience a rapid weight gain or have poor nutrition are also at risk for developing the disease.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Animals that have hip dysplasia can show a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms like reluctance to exercise, lameness after exercise, trouble rising after rest, and abnormal gait when walking or running (limp or “bunny hop”) are common in animals with hip dysplasia. Some animals will have muscle wasting or atrophy over the hips, thighs and knees.

Treatment

Some animals benefit from corrective surgery. Surgeries that can be completed may include one of following: 1) The removal of the head of the femur (the long bone connecting the hip to the knee) that creates the “ball and socket” joint (also known as excision arthroplasty). 2) Re-establishment of the femoral head and socket surfaces so the joint corresponds correctly (also known as Triple Pelvic Ostoetomy, typically completed in patients 6-12 months of age). 3) Fusion of the pubic symphysis to improve the relationship of the joint (also known as Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis, must be done between 3-4 months of age). 4) Total hip replacement. Rehabilitation of the limb can be completed which includes swimming, massage, and passive range of motion exercises to build up muscles. Medication to decrease swelling and discomfort as well as supplements such as glucosamine are valuable. Special diets, like Science Diet’s J/D, or Iam’s Joint formula have been shown to decrease need for medications in some animals. Before changing your pet’s diet or starting any supplements, please speak one of our veterinarians.

Prevention

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition, so avoid breeding animals affected. Keep animals trim or at ideal weight to help prevent severity of the disease process (weight loss for overweight animals is very beneficial). Supplements like glucosamine and special diets (like Science Diet J/D or Iam’s joint formula) can be beneficial for health of your pet’s joints. Before changing your pet’s diet or starting any supplements, please speak one of our veterinarians. Contact us to have your pet evaluated.


Kidney Disease

Kidney disease (also known as renal failure) is the inability of the kidneys to perform normal functions of filtering and removing waste from the bloodstream. Once chronic kidney failure occurs, it is irreversible, however it can possibly be managed. The earlier kidney failure is detected the better chance your pet has for prolonging a good quality of life.

Kidney failure in older pets is associated with the animal’s body “wearing out”, but other causes include but are not limited to anti-freeze poisoning, grape ingestion, prolonged urinary tract infections and hereditary kidney problems.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs of kidney problems include excessive drinking, excessive urination, vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, depression and weight loss. Since these signs can also be seen with other disease processes, it is important to discuss any of your pet’s abnormalities with the veterinarian.

Treatment

Treatment for kidney problems typically include fluid therapy along with a special prescription diet, however medications for secondary problems (such as high blood pressure) may also be used.

Prevention

Pets that develop a hereditary kidney disease should not be bred. Pets that are allowed outdoors are at greater risk of coming into contact with anti-freeze, so be aware if this toxin is in your pet’s environment. In cases where pets develop kidney problems due to their age, it is not possible to prevent organ failure, however the outcome is best when recognized early. When your pet becomes a senior or if he/she is on certain chronic medication, it is recommended your veterinarian performs yearly blood screening and urine checks that will potentially help to catch kidney abnormalities earlier.

 


Liver Failure

Liver failure is the inability of the liver to perform normal filtering functions that remove toxins from the body. Typically in older animals, liver disease occurs because the organ is “wearing out”. Other causes of liver disease include but are not limited to trauma, long lasting bacterial infections, long term medications, certain cancers, poisons, chemicals and hereditary liver disease. If detected early by yearly blood screening, liver disease can be managed to provide a good quality of life.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs of liver disease can include but are not limited to jaundice (yellowing of gums and whites of the eyes and ears), vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, depression, weight loss, increased urination, and increased drinking. Since these signs can also be seen with other disease processes, it is important to discuss any of your pet’s abnormalities with the veterinarian.

Treatment

Treatment for liver disease can include fluid therapy, antibiotics, steroids, special prescription diet, and supplements such as Denosyl® or Denamarin®.

Prevention

Do not breed animals that have hereditary liver problems. If your pet is a senior or is taking certain chronic medication, a minimum of yearly blood screening is recommended to help detect abnormalities.


Thyroid Hormone Imbalances

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a disease in which there is excessive production of the thyroid hormones. This disease is most commonly seen in cats. The reasons the disease develops are unknown. Detection is usually completed with a physical exam, blood screen (specifically checking a thyroid level) and speaking with one of our veterinarians.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs of hyperthyroidism can include but are not limited to weight loss despite good appetite, increased drinking, increased urination, increased heart rate and changes in grooming behavior. Always discuss any of your pet’s abnormal signs or symptoms with a veterinarian.

Treatment

Treatment for hyperthyroidism usually consists of daily medications in the form of cream absorbed by the skin, oral liquid medication, or pills. Surgical removal of the thyroid or use of radioactive iodine are also treatment options that can be discussed with one of our veterinarians. Blood work to check the thyroid level is also needed to monitor how the treatment is working.

Prevention

There is no prevention for hyperthyroidism, however early detection is key to prolonging good quality of life. It is recommended that senior pets have yearly blood screening completed. Speak with one of our veterinarians to see if your pet should be tested for thyroid problems.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a disease in which there is inadequate production of the thyroid hormones. This disease is most commonly seen in older dogs because of an immune mediated attack on the thyroid, generally associated with the “wearing out” of the dog’s body. The disease is typically diagnosed by physical exam, blood screening and discussion with your pet’s veterinarian.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs can include but are not limited to weight gain, lethargy, sleeping more often, dry coat and skin, hair loss, secondary skin infections, and seeking a source of heat. Always discuss any of your pet’s abnormalities with your veterinarian.

Treatment

Treatment for hypothyroidism usually consists of daily medications. Blood work to check the thyroid level is also needed to monitor how the treatment is affecting the thyroid.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent hypothyroidism, however early detection can be key to giving your pet a good quality of life. It is recommended that senior pets have yearly blood screening completed.