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This page is meant as a helpful guide we are by no means experts

Dog Diseases

Skin Cancer

Can dogs get skin cancer?

Yes, dogs can get skin cancer. Tumors affecting the skin or subcutaneous tissue (the tissue just under the skin) are the most commonly seen tumors in dogs. Fortunately, many such as lipomas (fatty tumors), sebaceous adenomas, and papillomas (mole-like growths) are benign, meaning that they won't spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors (tumors that will spread) such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and mast cell tumors are occasionally found, however. A veterinarian can diagnose a tumor in a dog with a biopsy--which involves removing a small amount of tissue from the tumor and examining it closely--or needle aspirate cytology, in which the veterinarian uses a needle to remove a microscopic amount of cells from the tumor in order to examine cell structure. These samples may need to be examined by a veterinary pathologist. If you have concerns about any lesions, bumps, or growths on your dog's skin, your veterinarian can examine and test them. If you have further concerns, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary oncologist.

Stroke and Blood Clots

What treatments are recommended for dogs that have had a stroke or have blood clots?

The typical stroke that strikes humans has only been seen in dogs in extremely rare cases. Though they're rare, however, blood clots and other kinds of blockage can occur in any organ or other body part. (The term "stroke" refers to a blockage of the arteries in any part of the body, not just in the brain.) The specific treatment for a blocked artery would depend upon a number of factors, including where the blockage is, how serious it is and the dog's overall physical health. Your veterinarian should be able to diagnose your pet and advise you on any appropriate treatment.


My ten yearl old dog is suffering from arthritis in her back hips. What can I do to make her more comfortable?

If you haven't already, you should take your dog to your veterinarian to find out if there are any medications that may help her with the discomfort and muscle strength in her back legs and/or lower back. Your veterinarian can recommend products to help keep her joints flexible and painkillers that should relieve her discomfort. If she is carrying any extra weight, getting her to lose even a few pounds may make a big difference in her comfort level and ability to get around. It may also help to provide a soft surface for your dog to sleep on.


Could you provide information on what canine osteosarcoma is? The few articles I've found are vague and don't give much insight into what causes this disease or what the signs are-before it is too late.

Osteosarcoma is a common and serious form of bone cancer. It typically occurs in large and giant breed dogs. Leg pain, swelling, and limping are usually the first noticeable signs. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms begin to show, this disease may have spread to other parts of the body. The good news is that cancer is one of the most curable of all chronic diseases in companion animals. Early detection is critical for a successful treatment. Recent advances have brought forth different treatment options for osteosarcoma and other cancers. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Addison's Disease

Is Addison's disease common to certain dog breeds, or can any dog get it? Also, how is the disease diagnosed and managed?

Addison's disease is an uncommon-even rare-disease that can affect any dog. Standard Poodles, Rottweilers, Great Danes and several other breeds, however, seem to have a higher incidence of affliction. The disease occurs when injury to or disease of the adrenal gland causes a deficiency in the gland's ability to produce normal amounts of cortisone or the mineral-regulating hormone called aldosterone. As a result, various symptoms such as weakness and gastrointestinal disorders develop. Diagnosis can be made by measuring electrolyte levels or through specific adrenal gland function tests. Treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy using one of several different drugs depending on the animal's response. The drugs may be administered in injectable or pill form. Treatment is usually lifelong, but once regulated, the dog can live a normal life. As always, you should rely on your veterinarian's advice, since he or she will have a more thorough and direct understanding of your pet's problem.

Degenerative Myelopathy

My dog was recently diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Can you tell me more about this condition and what we can expect?

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is thought to be a possible immune disorder of the spinal cord that results in destruction of the neural pathways. This disease is common in German Shepherds and collies, but it's also seen in other breeds. There is no specific test used to diagnosis the disease; rather, diagnosis is made by ruling out other possible causes of posterior weakness, such as disk disease. Usually the diagnosis is based on findings of hind leg weakness and dragging of the paws, or "knuckling," which results in abnormal wear of the nails. The disease is incurable, but supportive treatment can help. Supportive treatment includes moderate exercise to keep the muscles strong. Also, vitamin supplementation with high-potency B-complex and Vitamin E seems to slow the disease's progression in some cases, as can another drug called aminocaproic acid. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do not help unless arthritis of the joints is also present. Please consult your veterinarian for further details on the best treatment options for your dog.If you continue to have problems, consult your veterinarian for advice. Most diabetic pets and their owners become able to deal with the inconvenience of insulin injections, thus adding years more of enjoyable pet-owner companionship.

Dry eye?

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), or "dry eye," involves inflammation of the cornea due to decreased tear production. The disease usually affects middle-aged or older dogs and has been reported in cats, as well. The watery part of the tears is no longer made, so only the mucous remains. One or both eyes may have a mucous type of discharge in or around the eye. Other signs of dry eye include redness or irritation in the eye and squinting. Your pet may constantly rub its eyes, as well. Dry eye is more than just an annoyance. The corneas will become chronically dry and irritated and then cloudy, and brown pigmentation may appear. Left untreated, dry eye will lead to blindness. If your veterinarian suspects dry eye, he or she will check your pet's tear production. This is done through a simple, inexpensive, one-minute test called a Schirmer tear test. If the tear production is impaired, there are many medications that can help.


I'm looking for current references on the treatment of canine diabetes. My dog was diagnosed about six months ago. My veterinarian and I seem to have her blood sugar under control with two shots per day, but I want to know more.

Diabetes is a serious disease in both dogs and cats. It requires life long treatment which includes insulin regulation, diet control on high fiber foods, and regular exercise. Because every patient is a little different to regulate, it is very important to keep excellent records at home of daily insulin dosages given as well as daily urine sugar and ketone levels. Regular check ups and blood sugar measurements by your veterinarian are mandatory to periodically fine tune regulation to prevent associated diseases. With daily commitment to a strict regimen, your dog can live a long, full life.

Cushing's Disease?

What is Cushing's Disease?

Cushing's disease is the common name for a disease called hyperadrenocorticism that most commonly affects people, dogs, cats, and ferrets. It's caused by a hyperactive adrenal gland that pumps too many steroids and other hormones into the bloodstream. It can be caused by a growth in the adrenal gland or the pituitary gland. The adrenal gland produces a wide range of hormones, and Cushing's disease can cause the overproduction of any one or more of them. Because of this, the symptoms of the disease can vary widely, and they can be extremely subtle. In dogs, Cushing's disease will often cause the overproduction of hormones called glucocorticoids, which are steroids. This will cause some of a dog's muscle to break down, giving him a thin-legged, potbellied look. It can also hurt a dog's ability to concentrate urine, making him drink a lot and produce a lot of urine. The steroids can suppress the immune system, as well, so dogs can sometimes get secondary infections. And the pancreas can be affected, causing vomiting and often diarrhea. Other symptoms include hair loss, calcified lumps under the skin, increased appetite, panting, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, Cushing's disease is difficult to diagnose. There is no one test to identify it. Veterinarians will generally perform several blood and urine tests and compare their results to normal levels. Treatment varies, based on how severe symptoms are and the general health of the animal. Two options are removing the growth that stimulates the hormone and prescribing medications that slow down production in the adrenal gland. The good news is that Cushing's is in itself rarely life threatening. By weakening the immune system, it can make animals more vulnerable to other diseases, and it can cause fatigue and exercise intolerance. Sometimes it doesn't cause any symptoms at all. The main issue with the disease is whether it's damaging your pet's quality of life. If so, then consult with your veterinarian about the best way to help your pet return to a healthy, comfortable life.

What is congestive heart failure and how is it treated?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition where the heart becomes weak and inefficient, usually due to an underlying disease such as heartworm, abnormalities of the heart muscle, or a genetic defect of the heart. It does not mean the heart stops beating, which is called cardiac arrest. The heart continues to work, but it doesn't pump blood very well. In hypertrophic heart failure, the heart muscle becomes enlarged and begins to require more and more oxygen. When they can't get enough oxygen to meet their needs, heart cells begin to die, and the heart muscle weakens. In dilated heart failure, the heart pumps blood out very weakly and the chambers of the heart become filled with blood and enlarged, or dilated. If the heart is unable to pump blood out effectively, pressure can build up in the lungs, resulting in a fluid buildupdor congestiondin the lungs that can cause difficulty breathing. Fluid can also build up under the skin, in the abdominal cavity, or in the chest cavity. Signs of this buildup of fluid include labored breathing, coughing, a low energy level, a lack of appetite, and fainting attacks. Sometimes CHF can be cured by curing the disease that causes it. Animals who are treated for heartworm disease, for example, may recover well from CHF. CHF may not be curable in other animals, but veterinarians can use a combination of medications to make them more comfortable. Veterinarians may prescribe diuretics, for example, which can remove from the body some of the excess fluid that causes swelling. There are also other cardiac drugs available, such as digoxin, which strengthens the heart muscle, and vasodilators, which dilate the blood vessels and make it easier for the heart to pump blood.

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is simply inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye (the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and continues over the front part of the eyeball). When this tissue is infected, the eyes burn and become red and runny (hence the nickname "pinkeye"). There are many causes of conjunctivitis--many types of bacteria can get into the eye and cause infection. This is a condition that can become serious, if the infection isn't treated and it grows out of control. In a worst-case scenario, the eye could be damaged enough by the bacteria to cause blindness. So if your pet's eyes seem infected or inflamed, take him to the veterinarian for an exam. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and/or other eye treatments, and you'll need to be sure to follow all the instructions for administering them. With a little help from you and your veterinarian, however, your pet with conjunctivitis can soon feel good as new.

Staph Infection

My dog has a staph infection. How did she get it and can I catch it from her?

Unfortunately, staph infections of the skin are very common in dogs. It is the most common bacteria present on the skin of dogs. Often the bacteria are present without any clinical signs, such as lesions. Usually, there is something that triggers the infection so that the bacteria settles into the pores. Fertilizer, grass seed, pollens or other allergens can act as the trigger, leading to a staph infection. Allergy symptoms may include itchy ears, feet and abdomens. When the skin is inflamed due to allergies, it is more likely to get infected by bacteria such as staph. Your veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection and will try to determine the primary cause of the infection, such as an allergy, so that they can treat the allergy, thereby decreasing the risk of infection in the future. Because the staph infection is usually secondary to the allergy, it is not contagious to people

What is a heart murmur and how does it affect my dog?

My 11-month old puppy has a heart murmur. What is a heart murmur and how will it affect him over his lifetime?

A murmur is what we hear when listening to a heart that has some turbulence in the blood flow. Normally the blood flows through the heart very smoothly and makes little or no noise. When something alters this smooth flow, turbulence results and this is heard as a “whooshing” noise that is called a murmur. Heart murmurs have a number of causes. Most are the result of a faulty heart valve (either too tight or too loose). The most common cause of murmurs in large dogs is an aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the valve in the left ventricle (chamber) of the heart. Other malformations of heart valves or problems with the heart wall could also lead to a murmur. Because there are many different causes of murmurs, it is hard to say how it will affect your dog without conducting some tests. Your veterinarian may wish to take x-rays and an ultrasound to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s heart murmur. Please consult your veterinarian for more information.