What You Should Know About Dog Health Insurance

Is Dog Health Insurance Right for Your Dog?

Consider this scenario – It’s a dog owner’s worst nightmare: Your cherished pooch is suffering in pain and you’re faced with the agonizing choice of facing huge veterinary bills you can’t afford or putting your dog to sleep.

Fortunately, more dog owners are learning that reasonably priced pet insurance is readily available in the United States. This is especially good news since so many treatments that were once confined just to humans are now readily available to pets.

It is now possible, for example, for veterinarians to do hip replacement surgery, kidney transplants or surgery for cancer. According to Alejandra Soto, spokeswoman for the non-profit Insurance Information Institute in New York, “dogs are three times more likely than people to contract cancer and 45 percent of dogs die from it.”

These advances in veterinary medicine mean that pets can live longer, more rewarding lives. But they can be expensive and dog owners need to be prepared for the expense.

Few Dog Owners Have Pet Insurance

Even so, not everyone is aware about or taking advantage of pet insurance with less than 2 percent of America’s pet owners having enrolled their dog, cat, bird, rabbit, reptile or other exotic pet. Often pet owners may not be aware of the costly amounts associated with veterinary care until their pet is stricken with a sudden illness or suffers an injury.

Like human medical insurance insurers of humans, pet insurance companies charge premiums and there are deductibles for the different policy plans offered. Pet insurance policies offer different levels of coverage depending on how much you pay. Routine veterinary check-ups may not be covered in the base plan but offered as an endorsement. There might also be exclusions for older animals, pre-existing conditions and breed-related problems may be excluded. Be sure to examine every pet insurance policy closely to make sure that you understand what you are buying and call the pet insurance company with questions.

Key Dog Health Insurance Issues to Consider 

  • The age of your dog. Pet insurance premium costs rise as dogs grow older and enter the years when they are more likely to suffer serious illness or injury.
  • Pet insurance levels of coverage. Pet health insurers offer basic policies and upgrades. There are various deductibles with some companies that can be anywhere from $50 to $500. And there are various levels of coverage such as 80% reimbursement to 100% reimbursement.
  • What’s covered in a pet insurance policy. Basic dog health insurance policies generally cover treatment for accidents, injuries and illnesses. Beyond that, some policies may cover vaccinations & routine care coverage. Some endorsements may include spaying and neutering along with dental and other routine care treatments.

Is Pet Insurance Right For You?

The best pet insurance offers coverage that’s broad enough for whatever care your pet needs and with enough options to get the perfect coverage for you and your pet.

As one of the first pet insurance providers in the U.S., PetPartners has been offering affordable, comprehensive pet health insurance to dogs and cats in all 50 states since 2002. Trusted as the exclusive pet insurance provider for the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association, PetPartners highly customizable options allow pet owners to create a plan that fits their individual needs and budget — so you’re not paying for added coverage you don’t necessarily need or want. Visit www.PetPartners.com today to see if pet insurance is right for you and your family.”)

Cat Poop: The Medical Scoop

As cat owners, we know our cat's personalities and habits pretty well. We know when they should be eating, how much they normally eat, and even the ins and out of their scooping their poop. Below is the medical scoop on cat poop!

So when our cat has a stool that seems unusual – rather it's diarrhea, really hard and firm you see worms or even see a bit of blood, we tend to notice quickly and think the worst. There is a lot that can be learned from a cat's stool, some of which you can start to understand on your own. While many conditions require help from a veterinarian, you can start to put together some of the story on your own from visual cues given when your cat has loose stools or when you see blood in the stool.

Fresh, Red Blood in Cat Stool (Hematochezia)

The presence of bright red, fresh blood in a cat's poop is called hematochezia.

The presence of hematochezia may be a symptom of either a minor problem, or a potentially more serious problem in the animal. One occurrence of hematochezia may be a minor and transient event. Repeated or persistent hematochezia is more serious and should not be ignored. There are several possible causes. The most common cause in older pets is cancer and in younger pets are parasites.
This usually occurs with bleeding in the lower intestines (colon, rectum). Hematochezia should not be confused with melena, which is the passage of dark, tarry, black feces.

There are many potential causes of hematochezia. The most common causes are usually associated with the gastrointestinal tract, although in some cases, the cause is completely unrelated (e.g. clotting disorders or coagulopathies). It is important to determine the cause of hematochezia, as specific treatment is often necessary for these patients.

Learn more about the causes and treatment options at: Hematochezia in Cats.

Black, Tarry Blood in Cat Stool (Melena)

The presence of digested blood in a cat's poop that appears black and tarry is called Melena. Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool, which is called hematochezia. Melena may represent a severe, life-threatening illness, and should not be ignored. It must especially be addressed if it persists or worsens.

Melena develops when bleeding occurs into the stomach or small intestines. Melena indicated digested blood so the bleeding comes from higher up in the gastrointestinal tract. The bleeding must be high in the intestinal tract in order for the blood to be digested and become discolored.

There are many potential causes for melena. The most common causes are usually diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that create ulcerations or cause bleeding into the tract. Swallowing blood such as from tooth trauma, ingestion of blood or bleeding from clotting abnormalities can also cause melena. It is important to determine a cause, as specific treatment is necessary to successfully treat patients with melena.

There are lots of treatment options and long-term health issues that your veterinarian should look into if your cat is showing signs of melena.
Learn more about the causes, what to watch for and treatment options at: Melena in Cats.

Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats

Diarrhea is commonly accompanied by vomiting in cats. Acute vomiting and diarrhea are characterized by a sudden onset and short duration of less than two to three weeks. Acute vomiting, a reflex act that results in the forceful ejection of gastric (stomach) and/or duodenal (intestinal) contents through the mouth, and diarrhea, an increase in fecal water content with an accompanying increase in the frequency, fluidity, or volume of bowel movements, are both extremely common in the cat.

An occasional bout of vomiting and diarrhea is quite common in cats however, severe, acute vomiting and diarrhea is not normal, and can be associated with life threatening illnesses. It can cause extreme fluid loss, acid-base imbalance, and electrolyte disturbance.

For more information go to Acute Vomiting in Cats. The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the recommendation of specific diagnostic tests. Important considerations include monitoring the duration and frequency of the vomiting. If your cat vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own. If the vomiting continues after your pet eats or if your pet acts lethargic, or doesn't want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.

Do Cats Get Urinary Blockage More Often in the Autumn?

Urinary blockages, also called a feline urethral obstruction (FUO) or a urinary obstruction, is one of the most common and life-threatening problems in cats. Veterinary medical staff will often abbreviate the problems to say the cat is “blocked” or write the letters U.O. for Urinary Obstruction.

You may have heard of this serious condition, but did you know that autumn is the most common time of year for male cats to "block?"

What is a Feline Urethral Obstruction?

A feline urethral obstruction happens when small stones and protein-rich material are formed that literally block the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra, preventing the cat from urinating.

Why Are Urinary Obstructions More Common During the Fall?

The theory is that cats typically drink more water during the hot summer months. As the staggering summer heat eases up and the seasons quickly shift to cooler fall temperatures, cats are likely to consume less water. As the cat drinks less, the urine becomes more concentrated and the likelihood of an accumulation of “debris” occurs which is more likely to cause a plug.

Although some veterinarians believe there is an increased incidence of feline urethral obstruction in the fall, they can occur any time of year.

What Animals Can Experience a Urinary Blockage?

Although any animal is susceptible to a urethral obstruction, male cats are at greater risk for feline urethral obstruction than female cats because their urethras are narrow and long, making them easier to plug. However, female cats can also “block.” If your female cat has symptoms of a urinary blockage, please see your vet immediately.

What are Signs of a Blocked Cat?

Feline urethral obstruction (the “blocked cat”) is a potentially fatal condition, usually seen in male cats, during which urine is prevented from leaving the bladder. The urethra may be plugged with mucus, urinary sediment, inflammatory cells, or small bladder stones.

Signs of a urinary obstruction in cats include:

  • Straining to go to the bathroom
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Pain when his abdomen is touched

As the condition progresses, cats may show evidence of abdominal pain and howl when touched or when trying to urinate. Many cats will vomit. Some cats will have a wide based gait (they walk funny) leading some owners to believe they are having trouble walking or are lame.

Your normally sweet cat may even swat or bite you when you try to touch him. This is because he feels horrible.

If your pet tries multiple times to urinate and produces just a few drops of urine or none at all, chances are good that he is completely or partially blocked. Many owners misinterpret the straining in the litter box for constipation.

If you suspect your cat has feline urethral obstruction, see your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!

How Serious is a Urinary Blockage in Cats?

Feline urethral obstructions are life threatening!

Within 24 hours, a cat may become lethargic, not wanting to get up, move, or eat. Within 72 hours of a feline urethral obstruction, cats can die.

If urine is prevented from exiting the bladder, pressure within the urinary tract can damage the kidneys. Urine contains metabolic waste products that the body must eliminate; urethral obstruction causes these toxins to build up. In addition, the bladder wall may be stretched to the point where muscle function is lost; in the worst cases, it ruptures.

A urethral obstruction is an emergency situation and you should go to your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet is “blocked.” If not treated quickly, pets with a urinary obstruction can die a painful death from complications.

What Happens When You Take Your Blocked Cat to the Vet

As soon as you arrive at your veterinarian’s office, your cat will be examined to determine if his bladder is enlarged and whether an obstruction is likely. This is a quick and easy diagnosis by the veterinary team gently feeling the size of your cats bladder by feeling the abdomen.

If an obstruction is confirmed, your cat will likely be rushed to the back where emergency treatment and stabilization will be initiated.

Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Common Feline Diseases

Few things concern pet owners more than seeing symptoms that may lead to a sick cat or kitten. Therefore, it’s vital that you understand how to prevent and treat common feline diseases.

When your cat’s eyes are dilated, when she’s feeling lethargic or when you think you’re seeing symptoms of a more serious feline disease, it can be paralyzing.

So, how do you decide what’s serious and what is normal as your cat ages? Here’s your guide to understanding, preventing, and treating common feline diseases.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

There are serious symptoms that should never be ignored in your cat. A symptom is defined as “any problem that can indicate an underlying disease” and may be your first clue to the presence of a life-threatening problem in your cat.

Here are five symptoms of common feline diseases that should never be ignored (see more here):

  • Not Eating or Loss of Appetite
  • Trouble Urinating
  • Losing Weight
  • Breathing Problems
  • Jaundice

Identifying Common Feline Conditions

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your cat, please see your veterinarian. There are also warning signs for other common feline diseases that you need to know how to recognize:

Renal Disease. Kidney failure is a problem that affects all breeds and ages of cat, although older pets are more frequently diagnosed with the condition. Common signs include weight loss, increase in water intake and urination, and vomiting.

Vomiting. At one time or another your cat may have a bout of vomiting. Usually he’ll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, played too soon after eating or any number of non-serious conditions. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem. If the vomiting continues after your pet eats, or if your pet acts lethargic or doesn’t want to eat, medical attention is warranted.

Diabetes. Affecting both humans and cats, diabetes is a chronic condition in which a deficiency of the hormone insulin impairs the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. Common signs include vomiting, weight loss, lethargy and increased thirst.

Diarrhea. This is another one of those conditions which comes up nearly every day in veterinary practice. Diarrhea results from excessive water content in the feces and is a significant sign of intestinal diseases in cats.

Upper Respiratory Infection. This is often a complex variety of diseases affecting the nose, throat, and sinus area. These infections are quite common and very contagious. They are especially prevalent in areas associated with overcrowding and poor sanitation. Cats at increased risk include those in catteries, from rescue shelters, and in outdoor feral cat populations.

Hyperthyroidism. If your adult cat suddenly begins to lose weight despite a voracious appetite, he may have a hormone problem. In particular, he may be suffering from an overabundance of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is most common in cats over 9 years of age.

Urinary Tract Infection. Inflammation of the urinary bladder, sometimes called a urinary tract infection, is one of the top reasons for cats visiting the vet. The most common cause of lower urinary tract symptoms in cats is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), a condition which has no known cause. Common signs include frequent trips to the litter box, straining to urinate and urinating outside the box.

Pancreatitis. This condition results from sudden inflammation of the pancreas and is characterized by activation of pancreatic enzymes which can cause the pancreas to begin digesting itself. The pancreas lies in the upper abdomen and its inflammation commonly causes vomiting, nausea, weight loss, and lack of appetite.

Ear Infection. Otitis externa, commonly known as an ear infection, is characterized by inflammation of the soft tissue components of the external ear canal. It is characterized by red or swollen ears, excessive scratching or grooming in the area, and a foul smell or discharge.

Conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue coating the eye and lining the eyelids. It results in inflammation, pain, discharge, and general discomfort.

Zoonotic Diseases

When you own a cat (or a dog, bird, reptile, rabbit, or fish), you should be aware that your pet can have an effect on your health by infecting you with certain diseases. These are called zoonotic diseases, which are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

You may already know about some of the more common zoonotic diseases: Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted by tick bites; malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, and bubonic plague is transmitted by rats, or rather by fleas that become infected by biting the rats.

Not ‘Feline’ Fine: Dealing with Feline Depression

We all have bad days and we all get the blues. It’s true for cats, too, so all cat lovers need to be aware of the signs of feline depression.

We often call on our feline family members to lift our moods. After a long day at work or during family crises, the soft purr of a cat can soothe frazzled nerves, and the cathartic feelings one gets when a stroking a cat cannot be denied. Yet not many pet owners realize that cats can and do suffer from occasional bouts of feline depression. It is in these days of doldrums that our furry family members need us the most.

As a matter-of-fact, it is important to always observe your cat’s behavior to determine her normal behavior patterns and personality type. Then, if feline depression does set in, you’ll be able to distinguish what may be wrong. A cat’s personality is usually innate, yet many environmental factors, as well as mistakes made by her owner, can exasperate her natural instincts.

If a normally sociable and affectionate cat suddenly becomes reserved and shy, you may be dealing with feline depression. Likewise, if a playful and fun-loving cat turns independent and aloof, there may be issues you need to address.

Knowing the qualities and quirks your cat possesses will be key to diagnosing feline depression. Cats have an innate need to interact with people, yet the degree of interaction varies with each cat’s unique personality.

Here is how to tell if your cat may be suffering from feline depression, and what you can do about it.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

As with any abnormal behavior, it’s always best to consult with a professional first. If you notice one of these signs of feline depression, it’s time to visit the vet.

  • Aggressive behavior outside of your cat’s normal personality that is threatening or harmful to humans or other pets. Sometimes,feline aggression presents itself in body language such as an arched back, tail curved under or to the side, or claws unsheathed and ready for action.
  • Lack of grooming can be another indicator of feline depression, as most cats groom meticulously.
  • Loss of appetite is often one of the first symptoms of illness in cats and can be your first clue to a problem. It can also have a serious impact on an cat’s health if it lasts 24 hours or more, and may be a sign of feline anorexia.
  • Often tied closely with loss of appetite, weight loss is another possible sign of feline depression. Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss.
  • Lethargy is a nonspecific sign associated with many possible underlying systemic disorders. It may have little to no impact on the affected cat, however its presence may represent feline depression and even severe or life-threatening illness. Lethargy of more than a day’s duration should not be ignored, and should be addressed, especially if it persists.

Reasons for Feline Depression

Boredom is a common cause of feline depression, especially for indoor cats. Although the indoor environment may be safer, it may not be that interesting to a curious cat. Thus, it is important to create an environment that is enriching and stimulating — and one that helps supplement what cats normally would get outside. This can include planting cat grass in a sunny location, adding bird and squirrel feeders near a convenient window-side perch for entertainment, and providing scratching posts and feather or string games for activity.

But boredom isn’t the only cause of feline depression. Here are some other causes to be aware of:

If you suspect your cat may be suffering from feline depression due to any of these conditions, there is help and there are things you can do. Some of the signs of feline depression can also be signs of other physical conditions, so again it’s vital to discuss the changed behavior with your veterinarian, especially if the symptoms have persisted over several days.

21 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore in Your Dog

There are serious symptoms that should never be ignored in your dog. A symptom is defined as “any problem that can indicate an underlying disease” and may be your first clue to the presence of a life-threatening problem in your dog. Here is a list of 21 symptoms that should never be ignored if you see them from your dog!

1. Pacing and Restlessness. In dogs, pacing and restlessness can be indicate pain, discomfort or distress. These symptoms can be associated with a condition called bloat in which the stomach twists. Bloat is life-threatening and most commonly occurs in large breed or deep-chested dogs.

2. Unproductive Retching. Dogs that attempt to vomit and are unable to bring anything up is another common symptom of “bloat”. You should call your veterinarian immediately. Click here to learn more about “bloat”.

3. Collapse or Fainting. Acute collapse is a sudden loss of strength causing your dog to fall and be unable to rise. Some dogs that suddenly collapse will actually lose consciousness. This is called fainting or syncope. Some dogs recover very quickly and look essentially normal just seconds to minutes after collapsing, whereas others stay in the collapsed state until helped. All the reasons for collapse or fainting are serious and should not be ignored. See your veterinarian immediately. Click here to learn more.

4. Not Eating or Loss of Appetite. Anorexia is a term used to describe the situation where an animal loses his appetite, does not want to eat or is unable to eat. There are many causes of a “loss of appetite” and is often the first indication of illness. Regardless of the cause, loss of appetite can have a serious impact on an animal’s health if it lasts 24 hours or more. Young animals less than 6 months of age are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite. Click here to learn more.

5. Losing Weight. Weight loss is a physical condition that results from a negative caloric balance. This usually occurs when the body uses and/or excretes essential nutrients faster than it can consume them. Essentially more calories are being burned than are being taken in. Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss. There are several causes for this, some of which can be very serious. Click here to learn more.


6. Breathing Problems. Respiratory distress, often called dyspnea, is labored, difficult breathing or shortness of breath. This can occur at any time during the breathing process, during inspiration (breathing in) or expiration (breathing out). When your dog has trouble breathing, he may not be able to get enough oxygen to his tissues. Additionally, if he has heart failure, he may not be able to pump sufficient blood to his muscles and other tissues. Dyspnea is often associated with accumulation of fluid (edema) in the lungs or the chest cavity (pleural effusion). This fluid can lead to shortness of breath and coughing. This is a very serious symptom and should be evaluated immediately. Click here to learn more.

7. Red Eye. A “red eye” is a non-specific sign of inflammation or infection. It may be seen with several different diseases including those involving different parts of the eye including the external eyelids, third eyelid, conjunctiva, cornea, and sclera. It may also occur with inflammation of the structures inside the eye, with glaucoma (high pressure within the eye) or with certain diseases of the orbit (eye socket). Either one or both eyes can become red, depending upon the cause of the problem. Some of the possible causes can be serious and ultimately cause blindness. Click here to learn more.

8. Jaundice. Jaundice, also referred to as icterus, describes the yellow color taken on by the tissues throughout the body due to elevated levels of bilirubin, a substance that comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. There are several causes for jaundice and regardless of the cause, jaundice is considered abnormal and serious in the dog. Click here to learn more.

9. Trouble Urinating. “Trouble urinating” can include straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, and evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region or turning and looking at the area. There are several underlying causes. Some of the causes if left untreated can result in death in as little as 36 hours. Click here to learn more.

Guide to Dog Symptoms

Guide to Symptoms in Dogs

Is your dog acting sick or having a problem? Symptoms are generally a sign of disease. Learn more about what could be causing your pet’s problem by clicking on the symptom that he is having.

  • Abdominal Distension
  • Abscess
  • Acute Collapse
  • Acute Diarrhea
  • Alopecia
  • Anemia
  • Anisocoria
  • Anorexia
  • Anuria
  • Ascites
  • Aural Hematoma
  • Back and Neck Pain
  • Bad Breath
  • Bald Spots
  • Bleeding in Abdominal Cavity
  • Bleeding in Chest Cavity
  • Bleeding Spleen
  • Bloated or Distended Abdomen
  • Breathing Fast
  • Breathing Noisy
  • Breathing Problems
  • Bite Wounds
  • Blindness
  • Bloody Diarrhea -Dark/Tarry
  • Bloody Diarrhea -Bright red
  • Bloody Nose
  • Bloody Urine
  • Blood in Vomit
  • Blue Skin or Gums
  • Breast Swelling
  • Broken Bone
  • Bruising/Bleeding
  • Can’t Hear
  • Cerebral Edema
  • Chronic Coughing
  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Chronic Vomiting
  • Cloudy Eye
  • Collapse
  • Constipation
  • Coughing
  • Cyanosis
  • Deafness
  • Dehydration
  • Depressed
  • Diarrhea -just started
  • Diarrhea -chronic
  • Diarrhea and Vomiting
  • Discharge from Near Penis
  • Drinking and Urinating a lot
  • Drooling
  • Dyschezia
  • Dysphagia
  • Dyspnea
  • Dysuria
  • Ear Discharge
  • Ear Flap Swollen
  • Eating Alot
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Enophtalmus
  • Epiphora
  • Epistaxis
  • Exophtalmus
  • Eye Buldging
  • Eye Cloudy
  • Eye Discharge
  • Eye Pain
  • Eye is Red
  • Eye Sunken
  • Eye Tearing
  • Eye Trauma
  • Facial Swelling
  • Fainting
  • Fat
  • Fever
  • Flatulence
  • Fluid in Belly
  • Fracture
  • Gas
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hair Loss
  • Hearing Loss
  • Hair Growth-lack of
  • Halitosis
  • Head tilt
  • Hematemesis
  • Hematochezia
  • Hematuria
  • Hemolytic Anemia
  • Hemothorax
  • Hemoperitoneum
  • Icterus
  • Increased Frequency of Urination
  • Itching
  • Jaundice
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Licking of Genital area
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Limping
  • Losing Weight
  • Loss of Vision
  • Malabsorption
  • Mammary Gland Swelling
  • Melena
  • Nasal Discharge and Sneezing
  • Neck and Back pain
  • Not Drinking
  • Not Eating
  • Not Urinating
  • Obesity
  • Ocular Discharge
  • Ocular Pain
  • Ocular Trauma
  • Pain
  • Panting
  • Pollakiuria
  • Polydipsia/Polyurea
  • Polyphagia
  • Preputial Discharge
  • Prostatomegaly
  • Proteinuria
  • Protein in the Urine
  • Pruritus
  • Ptyalism
  • Red Eye
  • Regurgitation
  • Respiratory Noise
  • Runny Eyes
  • Scratching
  • Scooting
  • Seizure
  • Shaking
  • Skin Discharge
  • Skin Growth, Lump or Swelling
  • Skin Lesion or Sore
  • Skin Odor
  • Skin Swelling
  • Sneezing and Nasal Discharge
  • Splenic Hemorrhage
  • Straining to Defecate
  • Swollen Face
  • Syncope
  • Tachypnea
  • Tarry Diarrhea
  • Temperature- high
  • Throwing up Undigested Food
  • Tremors or Shaking
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Trouble Swallowing
  • Trouble Urinating
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Urinating and Drinking Excessively
  • Urinating in House
  • Vaginal Discharge
  • Vision Loss
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Vomiting – new onset
  • Vomiting – chronic
  • Weight loss
  • Wound – open
  • Diseases You Can Catch From Your Dog

    Diseases You Can Catch From Your Dog

    Your dog can give you so much: love, attention, entertainment, company – and infection. But being alert to some of these problems can help to keep you and your pet healthy.

    Whether you own a dog or a cat, a bird or a reptile, a rabbit or fish, you should be aware that your pet can have an effect on your health by infecting you with certain diseases. These are called zoonotic diseases, which are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

    You may already know about some of the more common zoonotic diseases: Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted by tick bites; malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, and bubonic plague is transmitted by rats, or rather by fleas that become infected by biting the rats. However, you should also be aware of several common zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted by your pet.


    Most Common Diseases You can Get From Your Dog are:

    • Hookworms and Roundworms – a disease caused by a gastrointestinal parasite. Infection can occur from either ingesting parasite eggs or coming into contact with the larva in the soil. These parasites can be acquired from handling infected soil through gardening, cleaning feces, walking in sand or playing in sandboxes used by animals. Children are most often affected.
    • Psittacosis – a bacterial disease you can get by inhaling dust from dried bird droppings.
    • Rabies – a viral infection caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted to pets and humans by bites. Infected bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, dogs or cats provide the greatest risk to humans.
    • Leptospirosis – a bacterial disease you can acquire from handling infected urine or by putting your hands to your mouth after touching anything that has come into contact with infected dog urine.
    • Ringworm – a contagious fungal infection that can affect the scalp, the body (particularly the groin), the feet and the nails. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person’s skin.

      All animals can acquire zoonotic diseases, but animals at increased risk include: outdoor pets, unvaccinated animals, pets that are immunocompromised (a suppressed immune system), poorly groomed animals and animals that are housed in unsanitary conditions. People with immune disorders, on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy may be at increased risk of infection.

      Animals with zoonotic diseases may exhibit a variety of clinical signs depending on the type of disease. The signs can vary from mild to severe. As a pet owner you should know your animal and be aware of any changes in behavior and appearance.


    What to Watch For

    Signs of zoonosis include:

    • Anorexia
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Skin lesions/rashes
    • Itching
    • Lethargy
    • Depression
    • Weight loss
    • Coughing
    • Bruising under the skin
    • Joint swellings
    • Lameness


    Veterinary Care for Infectious Diseases in Dogs

    Your veterinarian will need a good history, including an accurate travel history and complete physical examination in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Since there are so many different kinds of zoonotic diseases, your veterinarian will also do various diagnostic tests. Some of these may include blood tests, cultures, x-rays or ultrasounds.

    Treatment depends on the specific diagnosis and may include antibiotics, anti-parasitic drugs or anti-fungal drugs; intravenous fluids; symptomatic care for associated conditions (e.g. vomiting or diarrhea); and analgesic (pain) medication.

    Preventative Care

    Not all animals with zoonotic diseases are serious risks to people, but good hygiene practices should always be observed. Proper education, a good understanding of the disease and its method of transmission are a vital part of home and preventative care. Use proper hygiene and sanitation when handling pets and their excretions and maintain a good program of veterinary care.

    To learn more about diseases you can catch from your Dog, please click on Zoonotic Diseases In-depth.


    How to Prevent the Most Common Dog Conditions

    How to Prevent the Most Common Dog Conditions

    What are the most common conditions in dogs? After we published that article we got dozens of emails saying “Okay, you told me what the common conditions are– how can I prevent them?”

    Thank you so much for bringing up this excellent point. I wanted to help my readers take better care of their pets, so we researched ways to protect your pet against developing the conditions mentioned. Some are preventable and some aren’t, but every little bit of precaution helps.

    Below are tips on how to avoid the conditions which are considered preventable in dogs.

    1. Ear Infections

    Otitis externa, commonly referred to as an “ear infection”, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal. It affects up to 20 percent of dogs, especially those with floppy ears. You can prevent ear infections by gently drying your dog’s ears after bathing or swimming. It’s a good idea to take a look into their ears at least once a week – problems are MUCH easier to treat if they’re detected early. If you notice any odor, redness or discharge from your dog’s ears, please call your vet sooner rather than later.

    2. Skin Allergies/Dermatitis

    Most skin allergies are either from fleas (the most common cause) or substances in the environment (such as pollen and mold). There is not much you can do to prevent airborne allergens but you can prevent flea problems by putting your dog on a good year-round flea preventative. And yes, year-round prevention is important, as fleas can survive indoors through the winter months. Frequent vacuuming and the changing of air filters can cut down on the amount of allergens your dog might inhale.

    3. Diarrhea

    Almost all dog owners are familiar with this condition characterized by loose, watery stool. The most common causes are the ingestion of table scraps and spoiled food, excess plant material, and a sudden change in food.

     4. Vomiting

    At one time or another your dog may have a bout of vomiting. Usually he’ll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, exercised too soon after eating or is suffering from any number of non-serious conditions. To prevent vomiting don’t give your dog table food, change their food gradually, and monitor him to prevent him eating things he can’t digest.

    5. Pyoderma

    This common condition is a bacterial infection of the skin. There are several causes and some are more easily prevented than others. The best ways to curb pyoderma are to prevent fleas and ticks and bathe your dog periodically. Problems are easier to treat if they are detected early so if you see redness, swelling or discharge, please talk to your vet.

    6. Urinary Tract Infection

    Inflammation of the urinary bladder is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Offer plenty of fresh clean water and give your dog many opportunities to urinate. Reducing the need to “hold it” can help prevent infections.

    7. Conjunctivitis

    Yet another issue is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue coating the eye and lining the eyelids. There isn’t much you can do to prevent conjunctivitis. However, you can reduce the likelihood of your dog’s eyes becoming irritated by preventing things from blowing in your dog’s eyes. If you use spray cleaners, paints or other aerosols that may irritate the sensitive eye tissue, remove your dog from the area until they are out of the air.

    8. Mass

    Skin growths or masses are lumps of tissue that are within or can be felt under the skin. There is nothing you can do to prevent skin masses but early treatment and surgical removal are much more affordable than more complex procedures.

    9. Giardia

    I’m happy to say that this one is easier to prevent. Giardia is a protozoan parasite found all over the world which frequently causes diarrhea. It is common in animals under close confinement, such as those in kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores. Giardia is common in contaminated water. Prevent your dog from drinking out of old water puddles, especially in dog parks.


    10. Foreign Body Ingestion

    This condition is caused by an indigestible objects being caught in your dog’s stomach or intestines. To prevent problems, keep all items that your dog might ingest but shouldn’t out of his reach. Observe his behavior when playing with toys to ensure he doesn’t try to “eat” them. Check toys regularly to make sure they are not getting too worn out.

    If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your dog, please see your veterinarian. I hope this helps you to better understand some common conditions in dogs as well as how to recognize them. Hopefully your dog won’t ever be affected by any of them. But, if something ever happens, it is best to be prepared.

    Dangerous Foods: What is Harmful to Your Dog?

    Most Dangerous Human Foods to Dogs

    Americans spend over $10 billion dollars a year on food for our pets. Despite buying the best food available, some pets would rather eat what we eat. However, certain foods can be dangerous to your pet, causing varying degrees of illness. Some food is toxic due to ingredients and some by improper cooking, storage or poor hygiene.

    Alcoholic Beverages. Ethanol is the component in alcoholic beverages that can be toxic when an excessive amount is ingested. Pets are much smaller than us and can be highly affected by small amounts of alcohol. Exercise caution when drinks and pets are together. Toxicity can cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms and may result in death. Signs may include odor of alcohol on the animal’s breath, staggering, behavioral changes, excitement, depression, increased urination, slowed respiratory rate or cardiac arrest and death.

    Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums. Ingestion of large amounts of stems, seeds and leaves of these fruits can be toxic. They contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation and shock.

    Avocados. The leaves, fruit, bark and seeds of avocados have all been reported to be toxic. The toxic component in the avocado is “persin,” which is a fatty acid derivative. Symptoms of toxicity include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement, abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen and sac around the heart. The amount that needs to be ingested to cause signs is unknown. Do not feed your pet any component of the avocado.

    Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. A leavening agent is a common ingredient in baked goods that produces a gas causing batter and dough to rise. Baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder consists of baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar, calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate or a mixture of the three. Ingestion of large amounts of baking soda or baking powder can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), congestive heart failure or muscle spasms.

    Chocolate. Chocolate, in addition to having a high-fat content, contains caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to your dog in high amounts. The levels of caffeine and theobromine vary between different types of chocolate. For example, white chocolate has the lowest concentration of stimulants and baking chocolate or cacao beans have the highest concentration.

    Depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the amount eaten, various problems can occur. The high-fat content in chocolate may result in vomiting and possibly diarrhea. Once toxic levels are eaten, the stimulant effect becomes apparent. You may notice restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination and possibly excessive panting. Heart rate and blood pressure levels may also increase. Seizure activity may occur in severe cases.

    Coffee (grounds and beans). Dogs that eat coffee grounds or beans can get “caffeine” toxicity. The symptoms are very similar to those of chocolate toxicity and can be just as or even more serious.

    Fatty Foods. Rich and fatty food are favorites of dogs. They often get them as treats, leftovers or from getting into the trash. These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can affect any pet but miniature or toy poodles, cocker spaniels, and miniature schnauzers are particularly prone. Signs of pancreatitis generally include an acute onset of vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is often evidenced by hunched posture or “splinting” of the abdomen when picked up. The dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy.

    Dairy Products. Human dairy products are not highly dangerous but can pose problems for two reasons. One is their high-fat content and like other foods with high-fat content, there is a risk of pancreatitis. The second reason is that pets poorly digest dairy products since they lack the enzyme required to digest lactose. This affects some pets more than others and can cause gas to diarrhea.

    Small amounts of plain yogurt or cheese are tolerated by most dogs but it is probably safest to avoid dairy products altogether. There is a lactose-free milk product available that pose no risk to dogs, such as Milk-O-Pet.

    Grapes and Raisins. So far, about 10 dogs poisoned by grapes and raisins have been officially reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The number of grapes or raisins ingested has been between 9 ounces to 2 pounds, and dogs ingesting these large amounts have developed kidney failure. Aggressive, and sometimes prolonged, treatment may be necessary to give the affected dog a chance at survival; without treatment death is possible. Despite testing, the reason for the kidney failure and the amount necessary for toxicity remains unknown. For now, any dog that ingests large amounts of grapes or raisins should be treated aggressively, so contact your veterinarian immediately if ingestion has occurred.