Fact Sheets

Downloadable Fact Sheets

Abortion, Termination of Pregnancy

Definition:
Termination of pregnancy
Signs:
Mated inappropriately
Advice:
Seek a veterinarian with a special interest in dog breeding

OVERVIEW

  • “Abortion” is the delivery of one or more fetuses before it is (they are) capable of surviving outside of the uterus; a “fetus” (plural, fetuses) is the unborn young (that is, still in the uterus)
  • Intentional medical or surgical termination of an unwanted pregnancy in a dog; may be accomplished by using drugs that prevent establishment of a pregnancy and/or cause termination of an established pregnancy, or surgery to terminate an established pregnancy
  • The “bitch” is a female dog
  • The “queen” is a female cat

Abcess

Definition:
Infected tissue with pus in the centre

Signs:
Swelling, pain, redness that can burst and drain pus

Advice:
Urgent veterinary treatment to drain, remove infection and provide pain relief

OVERVIEW

  • An abscess is a localized collection of pus contained within a cavity somewhere in the body

Anaphylaxis Allergic Reaction

Definition:
Sudden, severe allergic reaction when exposed to a substance or allergen, eg; bee sting

Signs:
Acute, rapid weakness and collapse, pale gums and vomiting

Advice:
Immediate veterinary treatment as it is very serious and unpredictable in its severity

Overview:

  • “Allergy” is an unusual sensitivity to a substance (such as pollen)—the immune system responds to the presence of the substance leading to signs (such as itchiness); “antigen” is a substance (such as pollen) that induces a sensitivity or immune response; “antibody” is a protein that is produced by the immune system in response to a specific antigen—when the body is exposed to the antigen, the specific antibody responds, causing the signs of the allergic response
  • “Immunoglobulins” are proteins produced by the cells of the immune system; they include the antibodies; they are categorized into classes, including immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin G (IgG), and immunoglobulin E (IgE)
  • Mast cells are immune-system cells that frequently are located near blood vessels in the skin; mast cells contain histamine; they are involved in allergy and inflammation
  • Anaphylaxis is the sudden (acute) allergic reaction following the rapid introduction of an antigen (a substance that induces sensitivity or immune response) into a host having antigen-specific antibodies (proteins produced by the immune system in response to a specific antigen) of the IgE subclass
  • The binding of antigen (a substance that induces sensitivity or immune response) to mast cells sensitized with IgE results in the release of preformed and newly synthesized chemical mediators (such as histamine)
  • Anaphylactic reactions may be localized (atopy) or generalized (systemic), known as “anaphylactic shock”
  • “Atopy” is a disease in which the pet is sensitized (or “allergic”) to substances found in the environment (such as pollen) that normally would not cause any health problems
  • “Anaphylactic shock” is a severe form of anaphylaxis; it is life-threatening; signs may include difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, and death

Anticoagulant Rodenticide Poisoning

Definition:
Rat bait (AC poisoning) stops the blood from clotting leading to internal bleeding

Signs:
Collapse, pale gums and abnormal breathing

Advice:
If eaten bait go to a vet ASAP. Get the bait vomited up +/- antidote +/- blood test

Aortic Thromboembolism

Definition:
Blood clots form in and near the heart which break off and block blood vessels

Signs:
Pain, collapse, difficulty breathing +/- other signs

Advice:
Vet ASAP as this is a life threatening disease

Overview:

  • “Aortic” refers to the aorta, the main artery of the body; “thromboembolism” is blockage of blood flow secondary to the presence of a blood clot in an artery
  • “Aortic thromboembolism” results from a blood clot (known as a “thrombus”) that is dislodged within the aorta, causing severely reduced blood flow to the tissues receiving blood from that particular part of the aorta, leading to decreased oxygen in the tissues (reduced blood flow leading to decreased oxygen in the tissues is known as “ischemia”)
  • The heart of the dog or cat is composed of four chambers; the top two chambers are the right and left atria and the bottom two chambers are the right and left ventricles

Arthritis & Osteoarthritis

Definition:
Inflamed damaged joints with long term reduced function

Signs:
Lameness, pain, changed gait and loss of quality of life

Advice:
Long term management which varies from pet to pet

Atrioventricular Valve Myxomatous Endocardiosis

Definition:
Scar tissue grows on the heart valves. This reduces their function, causing blood leakage through the valves

Signs:
Common in small dogs, but often no signs for years then cough and breathless

Advice:
Long term vet management to reduce signs as the underlying valve damage cannot be reversed

Bacterial Cystitis

Definition:
Bacterial infection in the bladder

Signs:
Often show repeated attempts to urinate, discomfort with bloody urine

Advice:
Vet ASAP as uncomfortable disease. Rapid antibiotic treatment is ideal

Bacterial Pneumonia

Definition:
Bacterial infection of the lungs often secondary to other factors

Signs:
Coughing, unwell, fever and abnormal breathing

Advice:
Vet ASAP as it is a life threatening and complex disease

Blue Green Algae Poisoning

Definition:
Poisonous algae are found in stagnant water such as local lakes/ponds

Signs:
Sudden seizures/fits, general unwellness and collapse

Advice:
Gravely serious, go to a vet ASAP and avoid local lakes/ponds if possible

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Definition:
Narrow airways in short nosed dog breeds, such as pugs

Signs:
Long term loud breathing, chronic coughing and increased breathing effort

Advice:
See the Vet immediately, if signs worsen. Long term management including surgery

Brain Injury

Definition:
Physical damage to the brain tissue from trauma or swelling secondary to the initial damage

Signs:
Altered and reduced consciousness, seizures, bleeding at the eyes, ears or head, heart, difficulty breathing and changes in the pupil size are all common

Advice:
The outcome depends on the degree of damage as well as the cause of the damage. Causes are really variable ranging from trauma, cancer, infections, blood clots and even immune system abnormalities

Canine Parvovirus Infection

Definition:
Canine parvovirus infection is a preventable infection in dogs that damages multiple body tissues causing severe illness

Signs:
Usually in dogs under six months of age, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, severe weight loss, abdominal pain, dehydration and a fever

Advice:
Prevention by completing a vaccination program is ideal. Aggressive medical supportive therapy is required with not all dogs surviving. Treatment is complex and may be needed for up to a week or more in isolation care in hospital

Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease in Dogs

Definition:
The cartilage discs between the neck vertebrae calcify and can rupture pressing on the spinal cord

Signs:
Neck pain often crying in pain or reluctance to move is common. In some cases nerve damages causes leg weakness or even paralysis

Advice:
If you suspect this disease get to the vets ASAP as it’s very painful. X-rays may be needed and some dogs need CT scans and surgery. Prognosis varies depending on the degree of damage

Chocolate Poisoning

Definition:
Chocolate is toxic to dogs particularly dark chocolate and cocoa powder

Signs:
Can vary from a mild upset stomach to stiffness, excitement, seizures, high body temperature,
irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and coma

Advice:
Try to get an accurate estimate of how much, what type of chocolate and when it was eaten.
The vet can then calculate the best treatment plan. Often dogs can be made to vomit it up and be given charcoal to absorb the remaining toxin. Some dogs need intravenous fluids and medical

Cholangitis & Cholangiohepatitis Syndrome

Definition:
An inflamed bile duct and liver, more commonly seen in cats

Signs:
Reduced appetite, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, jaundice (skin goes yellow). Signs can be sudden or long term

Advice:
Causes can be inflammatory, cancer, bacterial infection and unknown. Bacterial infection can often be cured but inflammatory often recurs. Test may determine the cause. Hospitalisation is not unusual management

Colitis & Prolitis

Definition:
Inflammation of the lining of the lower parts of the gut (rectum and colon)

Signs:
Soft to liquid faeces are frequently passed with pain , discomfort and straining. The faeces are often mucus and bloody appearing to have a jelly like coating.

Advice:
Seek treatment early as it’s usually successful. Unfortunately, some breeds like Boxers are prone
to chronic versions of the disease

Corneal & Scleral Lacerations

Definition:
A cut to cornea (clear surface of the eye) or sclera (white of the eye)

Signs:
Possible trauma in the history such as a cat fight. Usually a sudden onset of a painful eye, bleeding, blood in the eye, change in the pupil shape and swelling

Advice:
Small wounds heal fast and may be treated with medications. Some wounds may need specialist surgery. Patients may need sedated to assess the severity. Wounds will need rechecking as infection and other complications can be common

Cough

Definition:
A sudden protective reflex forcefully expelling air from the lungs

Signs:
Different sounding coughs often have different causes. They can vary from dry to moist, honking, soft, harsh or retching. Other signs for example fever, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing may be present

Advice:
Coughing is a non-specific sign of disease with an enormous list of possible causes. Finding and treating the cause is ideal and tests may be needed. Outcome depends on the cause infection and other complications can be common

Cushings Syndrome

Definition:
There is excess steroids in the body. There are three causes, medications, an abnormal pituitary (part of the brain) or an abnormal adrenal gland

Signs:
Signs vary in severity but can include increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, panting, pot belly, hair loss, skin darkening, muscle loss, skin lesions (calcified lumps) and occasionally neurological signs

Advice:
Diagnosis is complex often needing multiple blood tests and ultrasounds. Treatment is complex and ongoing but can extend life and improve quality of life

Gastric Dilation - Volvulus Bloat

Definition:
A serious condition where the stomach twists and inflates with gas stopping it from emptying

Signs:
Trying to vomit with nothing coming up or a sudden or much bigger belly should be seen by a vet immediately

Advice:
Early surgery has a good outlook but delaying results in severe pain and complications which unfortunately lead to death

Diabetes with Ketoacidosis

Definition:
A lack of insulin causing a high blood sugar and the buildup of toxic acidic wastes (ketones)

Signs:
Many, including increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, weight loss, progressing to lethargy, rapid breathing, low temperature, weakness and collapse

Advice:
Less unwell patients may be managed as outpatients but more unwell patients need complex management. Insulin injections often work well but a life-long commitment is required

Difficult Birth / Dycostia Theriogenology

Definition:
A hunger for air with difficult (more effort needed) or distressed breathing

Signs:
There may be coughing, wheezing, gasping, and noisier breathing, breathing through the mouth or abdominal breathing (using belly muscles to help). The gums can change colour and go blue tinge

Advice:
Any change in breathing can be very serious. The outcome depends on the cause which can be very variable

Difficulty Breathing & Respiratory Distress

Definition:
A hunger for air with difficult (more effort needed) or distressed breathing

Signs:
There may be coughing, wheezing, gasping, and noisier breathing, breathing through the mouth or abdominal breathing (using belly muscles to help). The gums can change colour and go blue tinge

Advice:
Any change in breathing can be very serious. The outcome depends on the cause which can be very variable

Dissemintated Intravascular Coagulopathy

Definition:
A blood clotting disorder where the blood initially is triggered to clot and uses up all the clotting proteins leading to uncontrolled bleeding

Signs:
Those of the underlying disease as well as numerous small bleeds in the skin and mouth or where injections were given, these look like fresh bruises

Advice:
This disorder is extremely hard to treat the prognosis is grave. The underlying disease needs to be treatable and intensive care is required

Esophageal Foreign Bodies

Definition:
Foreign material or food gets stuck in the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to stomach)

Signs:
Attempting to vomit, drooling uncomfortable, and with signs often first occurring during eating

Advice:
Using an endoscope to remove the foreign body is ideal. Any perforation is life threatening

Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

Definition:
Antifreeze or antiboil liquid causes kidney failure if ingested. The toxin is ethylene glycol and the
source is normally car radiator fluid.

Signs:
Signs include excess thirst, vomiting, coma and death

Advice:
Early treatment usually works well. Go to a vet ASAP so that treatment can commence

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Definition:
FIP is a viral disease of cats triggered by a combination of the virus and the cat’s immune system

Signs:
Variable

Advice:
Seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible

Feline Idiopathetic Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Definition:
Is a disease of the lower urinary tract which is the bladder and urethra

Signs:
Difficult or painful urination, blood in the urine, abnormal, frequent passage of urine or urinating in inappropriate locations

Advice:
This requires being seen by a vet as soon as possible

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Definition:
FIV is a cat immunodeficiency virus

Signs:
Can vary from none to serious depending on the virus strain and the cat’s immune response. Repeat illnesses, inflamed gums, respiratory infections, weight loss, big lymph nodes and just not doing well. It is spread by cat bites and is most common in outside cats

Advice:
Treatment is supportive therapy such as treating infections. Some patients never get unwell, others slowly decline

Feline Idiopathic Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Definition:
FIP is a viral disease of cats triggered by a combination of the virus and the cat’s immune system

Signs:
Variable. Small

Advice:
Seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible

Fluid Buildup in the Abdomen (Abcites)

Definition:
Where fluid accumulates around the outside of the organs in the abdomen (belly)

Signs:
Unwellness, lethargy, altered breathing, abdominal pain and an enlarged pot belly shape develops

Advice: 
A serious condition which causes can vary from treatable to non-treatable. Visit a vet ASAP

Gastrointestinal Obstruction

Definition:
A blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. The most common causes are eating non digestible material such as plastic, wood, plant material and stones. Other diseases include twisted bowel, cancer and thickened stomach muscle

Signs:
They vary but generally include abdominal pain, off food and reduced or no bowel movements

Advice:
A life threatening situation. Seek veterinary advice sooner than later. Diagnosis can be difficult, but early surgery usually has good results.

Head Tilt

Definition:
A group of conditions where the head is tilted to the side and tends to stay there

Signs:
Eyes flickering up or sideways, balance issues, drooling, nausea and falling over

Advice:
There are a wide range of conditions that present with similar signs. Seek vet attention ASAP. The diagnosis depends on the cause which can range from unknown, infection to cancer

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Definition:
A disease where the stomach and intestines become very inflamed leading to bleeding

Signs:
Unwell very quickly is the most common sign. Severe vomiting and passing blood diarrhea along with lethargy and depression are common

Advice:
An extremely serious condition needing immediate treatment. Aggressive treatment is complex and includes IV fluids, antibiotics and sometime even a blood transfusion. Prognosis is good with urgent and early treatment

Hypocalcemia

Definition:
A low blood calcium level

Signs:
Tremors, seizures, wobbliness and general unwellness

Advice:
Low calcium in pregnant or lactating dogs usually respond well, other rare causes are much more complicated

Idiopathic Epilepsey

Definition:
A seizure disorder of unknown but possible genetic causes

Signs:
Seizures can occur without warning and often require urgent treatment. Patients often fall on their side, urinate, salivate and thrash while having a seizure

Advice:
Generally finding no cause of a seizure suggest epilepsy. There are numerous new medications for management which often goes well

Immune-mediated Anemia

Definition:
Is where the immune system attacks red blood cells. A low red blood cells count (anaemia) results

Signs:
Suddenly very unwell, pale gums, fever and lethargy and difficulty breathing

Advice:
Urgent emergency stabilization and attempting to suppress the immune system is required. Often a blood transfusion is needed and treatment continues for months afterwards. Prognosis is variable

Immune-Mediated Low Platelet or Thrombocyte Count

Definition:
A disease where the immune system attacks the platelets severely reducing their numbers. This reduces the ability for the blood to clot

Signs:
General unwellness with a fever and bleeding, often showing bruising on the skin

Advice:
Most of the time a cause is not found (70%). The known causes can include cancer or infection. Treatment is difficult and often not effective

Insulinoma

Definition:
Is a rare cancer of the pancreas that produces insulin. This causes a catastrophic lowering of the blood sugar similar to an insulin overdose in a diabetic

Signs:
Present with intermittent seizure, wobbliness, increased hunger and depression

Advice:
Treatment options include medication to relieve signs and /or surgery but the tumor is aggressive in most cases

Intussusception

Definition:
Is where part of the intestine passes inside another part, essentially ‘swallowing’ itself

Signs:
Generally off food, vomiting and abdominal pain are common

Advice:
Once the pet is stabilized emergency surgery is usually needed. Outcome depends on how much damage and where it is in the intestine. Intussusception is often secondary to gastro or other diseases.

Kennel Cough

Definition:
Is a respiratory infection see in dogs. It is similar to a human cold with severity varying and many different organisms can cause the syndrome

Signs:
Variable in severity but may including a retching cough gagging and general unwellness

Advice:
Some strains are preventable by vaccination. It is diagnosed often by the clinical signs and can be confused with other diseases, most dogs recover well over a couple of weeks.

Kidney Failure – Sudden (Acute) Uremia

Definition:
The kidneys suddenly has a severe drop in function

Signs:
They become unwell quickly, with signs such as off food, weak, collapsed, low urine production, wobbly gait, bad breath and mouth ulcers

Advice:
Prognosis depends on the underlying cause and how severve the damage is. Some patients can be saved with aggressive therapy

Left Sided Congestive Heart Failure

Definition:
Leaking valves or weak heart muscles

Signs:
They vary, but typical signs of being unwell include lethargic, labored breathing and a cough most common in older, small breed of dogs

Advice:
Once the diagnosis is made and your pet is stable, long term medical management can work well even through medicines do not reverse the heart abnomality

Long Term Kidney Disease & Kidney Failure

Definition:
Damage to the kidney leading to reduced function in the longer term

Signs:
Variable, but can include weight loss, increased thirst, eventually appetite loss and vomiting

Advice:
This disease is often under diagnosed and if there are signs get blood and urine testing ASAP

Pain: Acute, Chronic and Post Operative

Definition:
We all know what pain is, but our pets often show very different signs to us

Signs:
They are variable, but include; hiding, shaking, changing posture and not wanting to be touched

Advice:
There are now many different treatment options for pain management. If you think your pet is in pain get veterinary assistance for an individualized pain plan

Pancreatitis in Dogs

Definition:
An inflamed pancreas is very common in dogs.

Signs:
They generally present with vomiting and abdominal pain but the severity is variable. Severe cases are life threatening requiring intensive care

Advice:
If your dog has vomiting and abdominal pain get to the vet ASAP and test for pancreatitis

Patellar Luxation

Definition:
Dislocation of the kneecap, common in dogs

Signs:
It has a genetic basis, often showing as an intermittent hopping back leg lameness

Advice:
Surgery is often the best treatment particularly in more severe cases. Both legs may be affected

Pyometra & Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia

Definition:
Is a common condition in old unsterilised female dogs where the uterus fills with pus

Signs:
History often includes a heat in the last 4 – 6 weeks, increased thirst and very unpleasant malodorous vaginal discharge (bloody pus)

Advice:
Rapid intensive medical therapy emergency and surgery removal of the uterus is risky but often successful. Early treatment is preferred

Seizures in Cats

Definition:
A seizure (or as it’s commonly known) a fit is uncontrolled muscle contractions caused by abnormal brain electrical activity

Signs:
Vary from a minor twitch of a muscle to generalised seizures with loss of consciousness, severe thrashing around, urination and salivation

Advice:
Seeking vet attention is wise. Transport carefully using a blanket to scoop into carrier. Do not put your hands in your pet’s mouth as they do not swallow their tongues. Prognosis depends on the seizure cause

Seizures in Dogs

Definition:
A seizure (or as it’s commonly known) a fit is uncontrolled muscle contractions caused by abnormal brain electrical activity

Signs:
Vary from a minor twitch of a muscle to generalised seizures with loss of consciousness, severe thrashing around, urination and salivation

Advice:
Seeking vet attention is wise. Transport carefully using a blanket under the belly. Do not put your hands in your pet’s mouth as they do not swallow their tongues.   Prognosis depends on the seizure cause

Snail Pellet Poisoning

Definition:
Poisoning by ingestion of snail pellets (blue, green or red)

Signs:
Muscle tremors, salivation and seizures +/- vomiting and diarrhoea

Advice:
This is an emergency. If ingested go to a vet ASAP.

Vestibular Disease in Senior Dogs

Definition:
A syndrome of unknown cause affecting the pets balance

Signs:
Include varied loss of balance and mild wobbliness to a total inability to move

Advice:
Outcomes are often good with time and supportive therapy

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