I always am interested to see the annual results of the 10 most common health insurance claims made for pets. There aren’t any surprises on the list and the good news is that most of the diseases are treatable and often curable. Most are best caught in the early stages and confirms that early detection can make a world of difference for the quality and longevity of our pets.
For dogs, ear infection tops the list. Ear infections are often due to bacterial and/or yeast infections and are often secondary to allergies. A common misconception is that ear mites are often the cause, where I hardly ever see ear mites in dogs unless they live with an ear mite infected cat. Skin allergies and skin infections make up number 2 and 3. This time of year many of my appointments are to treat skin outbreaks. Non-cancerous skin growths are next on the list. Any skin growth should be evaluated and decide if further treatment is necessary. Upset stomach and diarrhea follow on the list. Dogs get into a lot of things and short-term gastroenteritis is common if symptoms continue past 12-24 hours an exam is necessary. Arthritis is number 8 on the list. There are many different treatment options to manage and slow the progression of arthritis in pets, with new treatment options being developed all the time. Your veterinarian can help you decide the best options for your pet- remember don’t give any medication without asking your vet first. Human pain medication can be dangerous for pets. Urinary tract infections are also on the list. Regular urinary testing is important, especially as our pets age, as older pets often have bladder infections without showing symptoms. Bruises and contusions are listed next. Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism rounds out the list. Many dogs need a thyroid supplement, especially as they age. A simple blood test can tell us if supplementation is necessary.
The list for cats repeats some diseases on the dog list, in a different order. Number one for cats is urinary tract infection. Urinary tract disease in cats can be a very complicated disease process and there are many treatment options depending on the cause of the disease. Chronic kidney disease is a very common syndrome in aging cats. Again, many treatment options are available, dietary management being the first step. Overactive thyroid, the exact opposite of dogs, is a disease in cats that causes excessive appetite and weight loss. Hyperthyroidism is a treatable condition with either lifelong medication or one-time radioactive iodine therapy at a specialty clinic. Number 4 is upset stomach followed by periodontitis. I’ve found owners don’t often look in their cat’s mouth, but dental disease is a common problem in cats and there are treatment options available. Diabetes in cats is not uncommon, and often requires insulin injections to manage. Overweight male cats are especially prone, so managing your pet’s weight is very important. Diarrhea is next on the list and can have many causes and possible treatments. Fecal testing is always important, especially in outdoor cats to rule out intestinal parasites. Cats can also suffer from ear infections, as I previously mentioned mites are possible, but not always the cause in cats. Skin allergies, just as in dogs, are a common presentation this time of year. Last on the list for cats is a type of cancer, lymphosarcoma. Although this is a very serious and often fatal disease, when caught early, there are treatment options available to improve the quality and length of an affected cat’s life.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or article ideas, [email protected] You can also visit our website, www.wildernessvet.com or our Facebook page. I will be at the Farmer’s Market again in September for the business fair. It’s a great event; I hope to see you there.