Skin problems are common in dogs and cats and it really is unpleasant watching an animal suffer with skin disease.These problems may be due to an underlying parasitic infection such as fleas or mites. As vets we also see a lot of allergic skin disease, generally in dogs but occasionally cats too. We call this atopy. This often causes skin rashes, itching and sore infected ears. There are various tests we can use to try and determine what a pet is allergic to be it trees, grass, house dust mites or food. Fortunately, there are some new brilliant treatments without the side effects that older treatments used to give, so we can help your pet be 'itch free'. Other causes of skin disease can be hormonal, bacterial and yeast infections and ringworm.
It can be very worrying to find a lump on your pet. There are a variety of causes of lumps that can occur, many harmless but some can be more nasty (malignant) and spread. Therefore, it is important to determine which are the not so nice ones. So how do we do this? Well, we can give our opinion looking and feeling the lump which helps give us some clues - is it fluid filled, is it ulcerated etc. If we are unsure we may decide to sample the lump and ask a pathologist to see what cells are within the lump. This can help determine whether we need to remove the lump which is a very rapid procedure we can do in the consulting room. It is a good idea to regularly check your pets for lumps, particularly their underside.
A really common reason why pets, particularly older pets, are bought into us is because they appear to be drinking more. This can be caused by a variety of underlying reasons, including
pain, Pyometra (see below), a disease such as diabetes or Cushings disease, a cancer, kidney failure or anaemia. There are a variety of causes, some very treatable. A simple blood and urine test will help us diagnose what is happening. We would always advise if you notice this sign to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
This may be seen as a gradual unwillingness to exercise or a sudden change. The cause is almost always pain. As our pets get older it is very common for them to suffer arthritis, a condition that can be successfully treated and controlled using both medical and alternative therapies. A sudden lameness or unwillingness to move can be due to an acute injury, fracture, ligament strain or possibly a slipped disc and should always be investigated. Cats can suffer from a blood clot in their back legs that causes a sudden paralysis and extreme pain - this is also an emergency. If in doubt call your vet and ask for advice.
As our pets cannot tell us if they are sick, sometimes we a do not see them until a condition is quite advanced. Subtle changes such as change in appetite, lethargy, weight loss and excessive panting can be signs that something isn't quite right. Our companion animals rarely cough and so a cough is a sign of a problem. A virus, lungworm or heart disease are common causes. Heart disease is particularly common in cats and older dogs and early diagnosis can extend quality of life for months / years. Sometimes an increase in breathing effort can be an indicator that something isn't right.
Gastro-enteritis is a very common condition we see in our dogs and cats. It may be caused by a worms or something they have eaten. A common condition in dogs and cats that we see which causes a lot of pain is called Pancreatitis. Interestingly,it is particularly common in Cocker Spaniels and oriental cats. There is no obvious cause and can be related to the amount of fat in the diet. Mild diarrhoea can be resolved with a bland diet, however, sometimes further treatment is required. We no longer advise to starve the gut as this cuts out nutrition to the cells that are damaged and can make things worse. Always seek advice if you are unsure. Persistent vomiting requires urgent attention.
A common condition we see in male cats is they get a blocked bladder which means they cannot urinate. They often present as lethargic, continuously squatting and not wanting to eat. Sometimes they are described as being constipated. We must urgently relieve the obstruction so the animal must be seen ASAP.
A common condition in our rabbits is what we call 'gut stasis'. Their intestines stop working, often as a result of stress but not always. We must re-start their guts as soon as possible or sadly they can die very quickly. If your rabbit is 'just not right' then please seek attention ASAP.
Female un-neutered dogs are prone to a condition called Pyometra. This often occurs in the weeks following a season but not always. They develop an infection in the uterus. Signs of a problem are lack of appetite, increased thirst, lethargy and sometimes (but not always) a discharge from their back end.
There are a variety of causes of this. Has your dog raided the food bag, or is it something else? Sadly, a horrible condition we see is called Gastri-Dilation-Volvulus (GDV), a condition whereby the stomach swells and twists. Its more common in large, deep chested breeds of dogs and generally happens after feeding or exercise (but not always). It needs treating ASAP as it can be fatal. Contact your Vet if you have concerns. Other causes of swollen tummies include a fluid swelling from heart disease, tumours in the abdomen, loss of protein from intestinal or kidney disease. It is always a condition where the pet needs to be seen for a diagnosis to be made.
Again another emergency situation. More common in what we call Brachycephalic breeds (Breeds with short noses) such as Pugs, French and English Bulldogs. Sometimes heat can cause their breathing to deteriorate. If you have any concerns about your Pets breathing contact your Vet straight away.
Other causes include heart disease, poisoning, fluid filling the lungs, laryngeal paralysis and a collapse of the windpipe (trachea). Another cause is your pet is choking on a foreign object, such as a ball or bone.
Epilepsy is common in dogs, but there are other causes of an animal seizure. These include poisoning, swelling of the brain, a high temperature or a lack of calcium (especially in pregnant or lactating females). A seizure often has 3 stages. A stage where the animal seems confused, then the actual 'fit' then, finally, they appear drunk afterwards. If your pet seizures, turn off all lights and turn off anything that may disturb them (tv etc). Remove anything they may hurt themselves on and call your vet.
Other signs of a problem with the brain include tremors, apparent blindness, head tilt, circling and struggling to walk.
We would always say if you are at all concerned with your pet just give us a call. We don't always advise you to come in and often we can reassure you that everything is ok. Our animals are very good at hiding things when all is not well and we often see pets when conditions are quite advanced, therefore we would always want you to ask us if you are just not sure!
Symptoms of illness can include; off food, drinking more, wee-ing more, not wee-ing, vomiting, diarrhoea, vision changes, salivating more, coughing, breathing heavily, sneezing, neck-pain, lethargy, smelly breath, straining to urinate/pass a motion.
Common poisons in Dogs - Chocolate, Raisins, Grapes, Xylitol, Rat Poison, Onions, Ibuprofen, Metaldehyde, Bread mould, Fertilisers, Human medications and Detergents/Household sprays.
Common Poisons in Cats - Anti-freeze, Paracetemol, Lilies, Permethrin, Human medications, and Detergents/Household Sprays.