Tag Archives: diarrhea

Canine cancer: the warning signs and the way to a cure?

According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, one in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime.  That’s a pretty scary statistic.  A diagnosis of a malignant cancer for one’s dog is just as traumatic and worrying as a diagnosis of the disease in any member of the family.

Experts in both human and canine cancers agree that we still have much to learn about the types of these diseases and how to treat them.

The National Veterinary Cancer Registry has been launched recently to identify and register pets diagnosed with cancer.  The Registry’s goal is to facilitate and promote medical treatments that lead to advances, higher success rates and eventual cures for cancer in pets and people by matching animals with cancer to clinical trials for new cancer treatments.

NVCR logo

The Registry is a joint venture between the CARE Foundation, Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) at Dallas and the Texas Veterinary Oncology Group.

Dr Gerald S Post, Founder and President of the Animal Cancer Foundation says there are 10 warning signs of cancer in both dogs and cats.  They are:

1. Swollen lymph nodes: These “glands” are located all throughout the body but are most easily detected behind the jaw or behind the knee. When these lymph nodes are enlarged they can suggest a common form of cancer called lymphoma. A biopsy or cytology of these enlarged lymph nodes can aid in the diagnosis.

2. An enlarging or changing lump: Any lump on a pet that is rapidly growing or changing in texture or shape should have a biopsy. Lumps belong in biopsy jars, not on pets.

3. Abdominal distension: When the “stomach” or belly becomes rapidly enlarged, this may suggest a mass or tumor in the abdomen or it may indicate some bleeding that is occurring in this area. A radiograph or an ultrasound of the abdomen can be very useful.

4. Chronic weight loss: When a pet is losing weight and you have not put your pet on a diet, you should have your pet checked. This sign is not diagnostic for cancer, but can indicate that something is wrong. Many cancer patients have weight loss.

5. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea: Unexplained vomiting or diarrhea should prompt further investigation. Often tumors of the gastrointestinal tract can cause chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea. Radiographs, ultrasound examinations and endoscopy are useful diagnostic tools when this occurs.

6. Unexplained bleeding: Bleeding from the mouth, nose, penis, vagina or gums that is not due to trauma should be examined. Although bleeding disorders do occur in pets, they usually are discovered while pets are young. If unexplained bleeding starts when a pet is old, a thorough search should be undertaken.

7. Cough: A dry, non-productive cough in an older pet should prompt chest radiographs to be taken. This type of cough is the most common sign of lung cancer. Please remember there are many causes of cough in dogs and cats.

8. Lameness: Unexplained lameness especially in large or giant breed dogs is a very common sign of bone cancer. Radiographs of the affected area are useful for detecting cancer of the bone.

9. Straining to urinate: Straining to urinate and blood in the urine usually indicate a common urinary tract infection; if the straining and bleeding are not rapidly controlled with antibiotics or are recurrent, cancer of the bladder may be the underlying cause. Cystoscopy or other techniques that allow a veterinarian to take a biopsy of the bladder are useful and sometimes necessary to establish a definitive diagnosis in these cases.

10. Oral odor: Oral tumors do occur in pets and can cause a pet to change its food preference (i.e. from hard to soft foods) or cause a pet to change the manner in which it chews its food. Many times a foul odor can be detected in pets with oral tumors. A thorough oral examination with radiographs or CT scan, necessitating sedation, is often necessary to determine the cause of the problem.

When your dog has the runs…

A client rang me this week to say that her dog had a major case of runny poos – the runs – or diarrhea to be exact.  She said her dog was her normal happy self but was going to the toilet regularly with fairly dramatic consequences – would I keep our massage appointment?

My answer was ‘no’ – not advisable – not because I was concerned that I’d have poo all over my massage table but because this dog’s body was telling us something.  Diarrhea is a symptom and not a disorder in itself and the dog’s body was working double-time to rid itself of an irritant.  Her system had enough to handle and a massage would only add to her metabolic load as lactic acid was released by the massage.  She didn’t need that.

My advice was to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours and to keep up the fluids.  Some people add low salt chicken or vegetable stock to the dog’s water bowl to encourage them to drink and keep hydrated, for example.  When food was again on the menu, I suggested replacing half the normal volume of food with cooked pumpkin to add fibre to the diet that the dog could easily tolerate and to keep this up for a few days until the stools returned to a normal consistency.

Other home remedies include a diet of boiled chicken with white rice, for example.

Typically, diarrhea is the result of a digestive indiscretion but it can be the result of poisoning from household or garden chemicals, a symptom of parasites such as hookworm, or a food allergy.  Some worming treatments can also stimulate a bought of diarrhea.

If a dog has additional symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, blood in the diarrhea, vomiting and fever  then you need to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.   In this case, the dog seemed happy in herself and so that was a sign that she was probably not in danger.

A trip to the vet is a good idea if the diarrhea lasts for more than five days or so.

Diarrhea isn’t any fun for the dog owner or the dog.  Keeping an eye on symptoms is critically important to ensure you do the right thing when your dog has the runs…

Your dog is not a garbage can

This is a garbage can...

This is a garbage can…

...and this is a dog.

…and this is a dog

Please understand the difference this Christmas!

Veterinarians around the world see a surge in cases of pancreatitis each year during the Christmas holiday season.  That’s because our homes are filled with rich, fatty foods that are as tempting to dogs as they are to us.  A single high-fat meal is enough to trigger the problem – and so the well-meaning family members who empty their plate in your dog’s bowl rather than the garbage are often at fault.

Low protein, high fat diets have been known to cause pancreatitis and it is a life-treatening condition. Symptoms of pancreatitis are acute vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and in some cases, fever. The dog may have a tucked-up belly and assume a prayer position. The abdominal pain is caused by the release of digestive enzymes into the pancreas and surrounding tissue.

More severe cases of pancreatitis can develop rapidly and a dog can go into shock – a trip to the emergency veterinary center is essential.

Vets will treat your dog with fluids, antibiotics and pain relief and will withdraw all foods for a number of days to rest the pancreas.   Assuming your dog survives,  its pancreas may be permanently damaged.  In these cases, your dog may develop diabetes mellitus if the islet cells have been destroyed or may develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency if the acinar cells have been destroyed.

Dogs who have experienced one pancreatitis episode are susceptible to having future attacks that can be anywhere from mild to severe.

The lesson?  Your dog is not a garbage can.  Treats should be served in moderation and carefully monitored by one member of the family to ensure the dog isn’t over-fed.  Avoiding table scraps is always a good idea.