We are a pet-loving nation, with one third of Americans owning at least one dog or cat and while we open our homes and our hearts to our furry friends, we're also increasingly sharing some of the same diseases, many that can be prevented.
Every day Gerry Eckstein takes her dog Hank to her vet for treatment.
"He's lost over 20 pounds. He was 49 pounds when he was diagnosed," Gerry Eckstein, Hank's owner tells Ivanhoe.
One of Hank's kidney's has failed and a giant mass entangled in his adrenal gland is believed to be cancer.
Gerry's vet gave Hank two weeks to a month to live. That was nine months ago! But Gerry's dedication to her 13 year old companion hasn't come cheap.
"Since he got sick, I've spent almost $12,000. My children's inheritance, but he's worth it," Eckstein said.
50 percent of dogs and 30 percent of cats over age ten will die from cancer. Other common diseases in pets include: arthritis, diabetes, and heart, kidney and dental disease.
One of the biggest reasons for health problems, just like in humans, Doctor Robert Hess says it's obesity.
"Obesity is a big issue in dogs and cats," Dr. Robert Hess, at Winter Park Veterinary Hospital, told Ivanhoe.
"A 50 pound dog that weighs 60 pounds will develop arthritis twice as fast, he'll live two and half years less, and develop cancer twice as readily," explained Dr. Hess.
Mandy Welsheimer was shocked when her dog "Puppy" was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year. "Puppy" must take insulin twice a day for the rest of his life and follow a strict diet. But it beats the alternative.
"Luckily it's a manageable disease. So it's not like he had something that we had to put him down for," Mandy Welsheimer, Puppy's owner told Ivanhoe.
When considering treatment for your pet with cancer, cost is an important factor. While it ranges widely, the average for surgery is two-thousand to three-thousand dollars. Chemotherapy and radiation can also be up to three-thousand dollars. One alternative for pet owners is to contact their local veterinarian hospitals and ask about clinical trials. Many offer free treatment and help with future research.
BACKGROUND: Dogs often appear as if they have an endless amount of energy, but they are susceptible to all sorts of illnesses; some can even be life threatening. A sick dog is every pet owner's nightmare. As owner, you are your dog's first line of defense against serious illness. (Source: http://www.petside.com/article/illness-symptoms-dogs)
MOST COMMON CANINE DISEASES: There are seven common and potentially fatal canine diseases you should protect your dog against with regular vaccinations:
Canine Cough: This is a respiratory infection common to any situation where many dogs are kept together, such as kennels (giving rise to the name "kennel cough"), animal shelters, and pet stores.
Coronavirus: A usually mild disease, coronavirus is spread when a dog comes in contact with the stool or other excretions of infected dogs.
Distemper: More dogs die from distemper than any other infectious disease. This highly contagious virus is spread by direct contact or through the air.
Canine infectious hepatitis: This is a viral disease spread by direct contact.
Leptospirosis: This bacterial disease is passed in the urine of infected animals and enters a dog's body through an open wound in the skin or when they eat or drink something contaminated by infectious urine.
Parvovirus: A highly contagious disease, parvovirus can be spread on an infected dog's paws, fur, saliva, and stool.
Rabies: The rabies virus enters the body through an open wound, usually in the saliva delivered during a bite. It can infect -- and kill -- any warm-blooded animal, including human beings.
WHEN TO CALL THE VET: Sometimes, the wait-and-see approach is best. Other times treatment just can't wait -- your dog's life may hang in the balance. There are times when a call to the vet -- or a trip straight to the animal hospital -- are a right-this-minute priority. Emergency situations include:
Heavy bleeding, including any open wound or bleeding from nose, mouth, ears, or any other body opening.
Difficulty breathing, swallowing, standing, or walking, including prolonged or frequent panting, staggering, or an uncoordinated gait.
TREATMENT: Modern veterinary medicine has made many advances. New vaccinations, medications, diagnostic aids, and surgical techniques that were once undreamed of are realities, helping pets live longer, healthier lives. Some vets have even used alternative therapies, such as homeopathic remedies, or physical manipulations like massage, chiropractic, or acupuncture to treat dogs. Of course, an accurate diagnosis must be made before you begin any type of treatment, but many dogs can benefit from a skilled and sensible combination of traditional and alternative therapies. (Source: http://animal.discovery.com/pets/)
For More Information, Contact:
Winter Park Veterinary Hospital