Thursday, December 25, 2014

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, “lupus”) is an autoimmune disease that can affect multiple body systems. Normally, theimmune system attacks foreign substances or organisms that invade the body. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immunesystem mistakenly attacks parts of the body. In SLE, multiple body tissues are targeted by the immune system. Susceptibility todeveloping SLE appears to be genetically determined, but environmental factors seem to trigger the onset of the disease. Somedrugs can trigger a disease similar to SLE. The role of environmental factors in the development of SLE remains underinvestigation. Overall, the features of SLE are very similar, and sometimes identical, to lupus in humans.


Symptoms can be extremely variable, and SLE is sometimes referred to as “the great impostor” because of the wide spectrum of symptoms it may cause. Symptoms vary depending upon the body systems affected. The joints, kidneys, and skin are often involved. Other systems, including the muscles, nervous system, heart, and lungs can also be affected. Affected pets may have a chronic fever, stiff gait or limping (lameness), joint swelling, weakness, skin changes, ulcers in the mouth, increased drinking and urination, and behavioral changes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation within the eye. The structures affected are the iris (the colored part of the front of the eye) and the bloodvessel-rich layer that lies deep inside the eye, beneath the retina, called the choroid. Uveitis is a common condition in both cats anddogs and has many causes. Untreated uveitis can seriously damage the eye and even cause blindness.
Eye disorders that may cause uveitis include tumors, trauma such as being hit by a car, cataracts, severe corneal ulcers, andinfections. A wide variety of conditions that affect the blood vessels of the body in a general fashion (a situation called vasculitis)can also incite uveitis. These include immune-mediated diseases where the body’s own immune system inadvertently contributes toinflammation and tissue damage, high blood pressure, and some infectious diseases. In both dogs and cats, several fungaldiseases are known to cause uveitis. 


In cats, feline leukemia virus infection, feline immunodeficiency virus infection, and felineinfectious peritonitis can all be associated with uveitis. In dogs, diseases such as brucellosis, leptospirosis, and heartworm infectioncan cause uveitis. Toxoplasmosis is another potential cause of uveitis. A great variety of other infectious diseases can have uveitisas one of the symptoms. Cats may develop a form of chronic uveitis where no underlying cause can be found. In summary, onceuveitis is identified by a veterinarian, a number of potential causes is possible and some tests need to be performed in order topinpoint the underlying cause and treat it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aggression

Aggression is a natural behavior of dogs and cats. Pets that are in pain, stressed, and under duress will often show signs of aggression. However, aggression in the home and uncontrolled aggression should not be tolerated in pets. These pets are potentially dangerous to themselves and others. Furthermore, owners of aggressive pets are ethically and legally liable for their pets’ aggression.
It is important to note that aggression is generally felt to be a learned behavior in dogs and cats. These pets have been trained (usually unintentionally) to be aggressive. Because of this source of the problem, medical/drug therapy by itself is rarely if ever beneficial.

Dogs

There are several recognized classes of aggression found in dogs.
Status or dominance aggression can be a problem within the household or when interacting with new individuals. It can be interdog aggression, aggression toward new people, aggression toward strangers, and so forth. Similarly, protection of property (the house, the toy, the owner, etc.) can lead to aggression.


Fear aggression can sometimes be difficult to predict. Dogs reacting out of fear often do not provide warning behaviors. No bark occurs before the bite. Dogs can sometimes have fear aggression when woken from sleep, but be perfectly loving dogs at any other time.
Prey or food aggression is a natural instinct that may be only slightly displaced. This can cause dogs to bite cherished members of their pack (e.g., people and other dogs) over food. The prey instinct can cause dogs to injure themselves (e.g., by chasing cars) and/or cause them to attack smaller animals and children.