Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Skin disease in its various forms is probably the commonest problem seen by veterinary surgeons. This can vary from a low-grade itchiness that many owners accept as normal, to severe widespread inflammation with reddening, blisters, eruptions, weeping clear fluid or pus.

The appearance, frequency and distribution of lesions (areas of damage) vary tremendously. Self-mutilation by scratching, licking, chewing and biting serves to aggravate the problem.

Skin irritation tends to recur and become persistent and difficult to treat although some cats tend to be affected only seasonally. Diagnosis of skin disease can be extremely complicated. Cats are frequently found to be “allergic” to many different outside factors such as fleas, house dust mites, carpets, cleaning materials, chemicals in the diet and foodstuffs.

Management of skin irritation usually takes the form of anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids), antibiotics, or desensitizing regimes using vaccines tailored specifically to the individual animal. None of these approaches is likely to prove rewarding because they fail to tackle the true underlying cause, which is the build-up of toxins in the cat’s system.

It is often impossible to avoid the cat encountering those things to which it is allergic but it is possible to treat the cat by changing the cat’s system so that it does not over-react to its normal environment.

So what can be done?

1. All family members must agree to cooperate by ensuring that the correct diet is followed i.e. no tit-bits, table scraps or other foods.

2. Gradually introduce a low protein, low fat, easily digestible food. Gradual introduction, by allowing a slow change in intestinal bacteria, minimises the risk of digestive upset.

3. Quantity of food given must be carefully controlled - it is essential that intake meets but does not exceed requirements.

4. Increase exercise – let your cat outdoors or play with your cat, this increases energy expenditure and helps discharge waste products from the system.

5. Eliminate internal and external parasites.

Many owners overestimate the amount of food needed by their pet...and success depends on feeding the right amount for each individual.


Common pet health problems
John Burns Pet Health Management Programme







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