Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Development of Disease

When intake exceeds elimination this creates an excess in the body. This excess can lead to one or all of the following as the body attempts to maintain the balance between intake and output:
1. Decreased intake by loss of appetite or development of a fussy appetite.
2. Increased output as the body endeavours to eliminate the excess from the system.
3. Storage of excess in the system.
Short-lived or minor imbalance will be dealt with unnoticed but a prolonged excess will lead to the following signs of disease.
Storage of excess leads to weight gain. This is more commonly seen in the less active pet.
Elimination of excess gives rise to one or more of the following signs:

· Increased physical activity i.e. hyperactive, excitable or overly boisterous behaviour
· Persistent moulting/shedding of hair
· Appearance of wax in the ears
· Scurfy, dry coat
· Itchy skin and ears
· Biting or licking the feet
· Occasional vomiting
· Occasional diarrhoea
· Discharges from orifices - eyes, ears, genital system
· Overfull anal glands
· Concentrated, strong smelling urine
· Unpleasant body odours
· Bad breath
· Tooth tartar
· Excessive grooming ( cats )

These signs, which indicate discharge of excess, while unpleasant and uncomfortable are NOT symptoms of true illness. They are actually signs that the body is making adjustments in order to maintain health and that changes in lifestyle - especially diet - are needed.
If we should attempt to “cure” these problems, with medication for example, without dealing with the cause this would be like switching off the fire alarm without putting the fire out.

Development of disease – Stage 2

If imbalance between input and output persists over a period of time, the build-up of wastes (toxins) in the body will eventually begin to interfere with the proper function of the body systems.

development of disease

A vicious cycle of deterioration develops

This may take weeks, months or years depending on the individual pet. At this stage one might encounter the following problems:
· Acute inflammatory reactions e.g. pancreatitis, hepatitis
· Allergic reactions such as eczema, auto-immune disease
· Hormonal imbalance - false pregnancy, irregular oestrus
· Stiffening muscles and joints (rheumatism, arthritis)
· Increased susceptibility to infection - because the body is providing a suitable environment for infectious agents to thrive
At this stage things have started to go wrong in the body. The problems tend to involve impaired biochemical and physiological functions rather than signs of degeneration and failure of the major organs.

Development of disease – Stage 3

As the build-up of toxins continues, the major organ systems will start to show signs of degeneration and failure. At this stage, quality of life is likely to be impaired and the animal’s life may be at risk. One may encounter for example:
· Heart disease
· Kidney disease
· Diabetes
· Tumour formation

Although I have described the development of disease as taking place in three distinct phases, in practice all stages develop simultaneously. For example, when the body is eliminating toxic waste it is unlikely that all the waste can be expelled.
It is probable that some clogging of the major organs will occur at an early stage. Clogging of the organs of elimination themselves (kidneys, lungs, liver, intestine) will further hinder the removal of wastes from the system, thus accelerating the deterioration.
Some animals do not even show obvious signs of toxic discharge but may develop a major disease without any prior warning.... MORE


Common pet health problems
John Burns Pet Health Management Programme



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