Treating pet illnesses

Pets are a special part of any family. But you could be harming your pet without even knowing it.

One-third of Americans own at least one dog or cat. While many open their homes and hearts to their pets, they are also sharing diseases – many of which can be prevented.

Every day, Gerry Eckstein takes her best friend, Hank, to the vet for treatment.

"He's lost over 20 pounds,” said Eckstein. “He was 49 pounds when he was diagnosed. He's not really eating very much."

One of Hank’s kidneys has failed, and a giant mass entangled in his adrenal gland is believed to be cancer.

The hydration therapy is supposed to help stimulate Hank’s appetite. But Hank wasn’t feeling well and got sick off-camera. 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 friend has not come cheap.

"Since he got sick, I've spent almost $12,000,” said Eckstein. “My children's inheritance, but he's worth it."

About 50 percent of dogs and 30 percent of cats over the age of ten will die from cancer. Other common pet ailments include arthritis, diabetes, as well as heart, kidney and dental disease.

See if this sounds familiar – one of the biggest reasons for health problems in pets is obesity.

"Obesity is a big issue in dogs and cats,” said Dr. Robert Hess of the Winter Park Veterinary Hospital.

A recent survey found that more than half of dogs and cats are considered overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That amounts to 80 million dogs and cats. Even being 20 percent overweight is dangerous.

"That's a 50 pound dog that weighs 60 pounds,” said Hess. “It's estimated he will develop arthritis twice as fast, okay, he'll live two and half years less, okay, and develop cancer twice as readily."

Mandy Welsheimer was shocked when her dog “Puppy” was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year. “Puppy” is required to 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,” said Welsheimer. “So it's not like he had something that we had to put him down for."

Eckstein may not be so lucky.

"It's like a baby with their blankie,” she said. “I have Hankie."

For now, that is all that matters.

When considering cancer treatment for your pet, cost is an important factor.
While there is a wide range of possibilities, the average surgery is $2,000-$3,000.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can also be up to $3,000.

One alternative is to contact your local veterinarian hospitals and ask about clinical trials. Many offer treatment and help with future research.

REPORT #2004

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:

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:

For More Information, Contact:

Billy Hess
Practice Manager
Winter Park Veterinary Hospital

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