Health Problems

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Being in the business of teaching riding lessons and giving pony rides, I need the safest horses I can find—horses that have seen the world and experienced a lot, and horses that are calm and kind. Usually, these are older horses who may need special care.

As horse owners, we know that one of our horse's favorite pastimes is getting themselves hurt. Hopefully, you won't have to deal with any major injuries. We can handle most bumps and scrapes at home on our own. Sometimes for one reason or another though, the problem is too big for us to deal with.

Superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) injuries are a substantial source of lameness and diminished athleticism within the equine athletic industry. Mesenchymal stem cells have become a topic of interest for use in the therapy of orthopedic injuries in athletic horses.

Horse colic can be caused by several factors, including worms. We'll go over the various worms, medications, and worming schedules here.

There are many causes for nosebleeds in horses. Some causes of equine epistaxis can be detrimental to the health of your horse. Learn to recognize the symptoms of these serious health conditions.

Signs, symptoms, and causes of colic and ulcers in horses. Learn how to prevent these chronic conditions.

Sores in your horses mouth may be caused by a weed in the hay being fed to him. Pictures and video explain and identify those weeds that may be the culprit.

Bridle lameness is apparent lameness caused by the use of the rein. The first step in correcting it is isolating the cause.

Rain rot, or dermatophilosis, is a bacterial skin infection that can cause discomfort and hair loss in horses. Learn what you can do to prevent this affliction and what to do if your horse already has it.

Rain rot is a common and highly contagious skin infection that occurs in pets, livestock, and wild animals. Proper treatment, causes, and prevention are discussed, as well as product recommendations.

Both purebreds and draft crossbreds such as the Sport horse are susceptible to certain health issues not so common in light horse breeds.

While clover slobbers is not life-threatening, severe problems can arise if the horse is exposed to the infected clover for a long period of time, including colic and founder.

That said, as with all breeds, these adorable small dogs are predisposed to some nasty Chihuahua health problems. But fear not! Most of these conditions are entirely treatable, and many Chihuahuas live long, healthy lives.

What diseases and illnesses should you look out for as a Chihuahua parent? What symptoms are harmless, and what warrants a visit to your veterinarian? Described below are the top 10 Chihuahua health problems that every Chihuahua owner needs to know about.

1. Luxating Patella

A luxating patella, also known as patellar luxation, is the dislocation of the kneecap. It is a hereditary disease that usually starts to present about four months after a puppy is born.

A Chihuahua with a luxating patella may limp or avoid using the affected leg completely. If it affects your dog’s hind legs, you may notice him/her holding their hind legs in the air for several minutes at a time. This is to relax the affected legs’ muscles and ease their kneecaps back into place.

Thankfully, patellar luxation isn’t very painful your pup will only be in pain when their kneecap first dislocates.

Surgery is used to treat extreme cases of patellar luxation. Most of the time, your vet will just want to monitor the disease to keep track of any future complications.

2. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. Your Chihuahua may act weak, dizzy, disorientated, unusually drowsy, or even lose consciousness.

Always take your Chihuahua to the vet right away if you suspect they are hypoglycemic. They could need a new diet or other measures to keep them healthy. Hypoglycemia can be a symptom of a larger disease, such as diabetes or liver disease which only a veterinarian can diagnose.

Make sure your Chihuahua is eating enough food throughout the day if they are prone to hypoglycemia. Missing one or two meals is enough for small breeds to suffer a drop in blood sugar levels which can result in severe consequences such as seizures.

3. Tracheal Collapse

The trachea is the tube that carries your Chihuahua’s breath from their mouths and noses to their lungs. If it collapses, your Chihuahua will have trouble breathing and develop a chronic honking cough.

When a tracheal collapse is severe, your dog may have blue gums or faint, because they can’t breathe. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment by your vet or local animal hospital.

Collapsed tracheas are very common and have a good prognosis when treated proactively. Your vet may prescribe cough suppressants or a steroid to open your Chihuahua’s airway as much as possible.

4. Tooth and Gum Disease

All small breeds have naturally small mouths, predisposing them to overcrowded teeth that are hard to clean. When plaque and tartar build up, a dog develops gum disease as a result.

Food gets trapped in a Chihuahua’s mouth daily, so it is important to brush their teeth thoroughly and often. Dental chew toys and snacks can help keep your Chihuahua’s teeth clean between brushes. You can also provide them with natural chews to which, if they chew, will help keep the teeth and gums healthier. Check out our article on DIY Dehydrated Chicken Feet to find out how to make a low-calorie, healthy, natural chew for your Chihuahua!

Make sugary snacks a rare treat, and always remember to honor your pet’s dental check-ups with their veterinarian.

5. Hydrocephalus

Have you ever pet your Chihuahua and noticed a small soft spot on their head? That spot is called a molera. All Chihuahuas, like human babies, are born with this, but they usually close up by the time they are a year old.

When a Chihuahua is born with too large of a molera, their skulls may fill with spinal fluid that eventually surrounds their whole brain. This is known as hydrocephalus.

Chihuahuas suffering from hydrocephalus may have seizures, bad coordination, a swollen head, or a slew of other neurological symptoms. This is why it is important to visit your vet at the first sign of illness.

Unfortunately, hydrocephalus cannot be cured, but many Chihuahuas lead long, happy lives with this condition.

6. Spinal Injuries

A spinal injury can happen in the blink of an eye. Chihuahuas have such small frames that one mishap could spell disaster.

Spinal injuries and diseases are almost entirely due to trauma in Chihuahuas. One such disease called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) occurs when a spinal disc moves or slips out of place (this disease is oftentimes genetic and not the result of trauma).

Thankfully, doggy wheelchairs and physical therapy can help manage any pain and mobility issues that arise following the injury.

Keep an eye out for your furry friend, especially around large groups of people and big dogs.

7. Obesity

Spoiling our fur babies is hard to avoid, but in the long run, too much food and too many snacks lead to obesity.

According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standards, if you have a pure-bred Chihuahua, he or she should not weigh more than six pounds.

Obesity in Chihuahuas can cause joint problems, stress on the spine, difficulty breathing, arthritis, and a shortened lifespan.

Try to limit the amount of food you give your pup, and keep an eye on their calorie intake if they become overweight. Your veterinarian can help you monitor your dog’s diet and get you on the right track.

8. Bladder and Kidney Stones

Bladder stones and kidney stones are common in older Chihuahuas, especially males. These tiny stones made of calcium build up in your dog’s urinary tract over time and cause difficulty urinating, bloody urine, and intense pain.

Usually, stones pass on their own. However, if you notice that your Chihuahua is having a lot of difficulty when trying to urinate, go ahead and schedule a vet visit. Kidney stones can cause blockages that quickly turn into medical emergencies.

9. Scleritis

Scleritis is the result of a parasite. It is the inflammation of the sclera, the white part of a dog’s eyeball. When a Chihuahua gets scleritis, their entire sclera becomes inflamed. It hardens over time when left untreated and can cause a Chihuahua to lose an eye.

Chihuahuas are prone to eye issues even more than other small breeds. Thankfully, most parasites can be prevented with access to clean drinking water and regular check-ups.

If you notice your Chihuahua repeatedly trying to lick or scratch their eye, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

You can get more info and see photos of what scleritis looks like over at veterinary vision.

10. Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is not dangerous, but it can scare pets and pet owners alike. The sneeze sounds like a snort or honk and can be easy to confuse with other illnesses, like kennel cough or a collapsed trachea.

If your Chihuahua has a reverse sneezing attack, massage their throat until the sneezing subsides. This releases tension from their airways and allows the attack to pass.

Of course you can’t prevent some of the health problems your dog develops, but you can prevent or treat many of them. And overall, chihuahuas are healthy little dogs and they have the longest lifespans of all dog breeds.

This was a guest post by Cathy Bendzunas! Cathy has loved dogs all of her life and has had several jobs working with them including pet groomer, kennel worker, SPCA volunteer, and working in a pet hotel. She acquired her first Chihuahua when neighbors moved away and abandoned their little Chi named Kilo. She fell in love with the breed and started I Love My Chi in 2013.

Common Pet Health Issues

Pets are subject to many of the same health issues that people are. Every issue needs to be treated by a veterinarian on a case-to-case basis depending on the severity and re-occurrence of the issue. Whenever there is any doubt, it is always best to seek treatment from an animal hospital and make sure that the proper steps are taken for getting the veterinary assistance your pet may need. Ardmore Animal Hospital provides many pet care and veterinary services for pet patients from Ardmore and the surrounding cities, including Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Radnor. Ardmore Animal Hospital also commonly sees pet patients from the Gladwyne, Wynnewood, and Narbeth areas.

One of the most common pet health issues is obesity. Unnecessary weight gain in pets happens frequently due to lack of exercise and from simply eating too much food. Pets should have their feeding times as well, not just when their dishes are empty. A veterinary consultation with a veterinarian from Ardmore Animal Hospital can help you decide what diet plan is right for your pet and/or if specialty food might be needed to prevent further health problems. An easy way to start problem-solving for obesity is to take your dog outside for a walk regularly or engage your cat with new toys to keep him or her active and healthy.

Allergies are also common in pets. Pet allergies are often caused by the types of treats pets are given, the atmosphere pets are in, or (just like humans) during times when the weather is changing. Signs of allergies or other ailments would include vomiting, rashes, and change in behavior from your pet. When in doubt, it’s always best to pay a visit to an animal hospital for a pet check-up.

In addition to the more obvious wellness needs of your pet, it’s also important to keep the dental needs of your pet in mind. Without the proper attention to their oral health, infections can occur, creating further illness for your pet. The veterinary staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital can give instructions for at-home dental care to prevent such infections or gum diseases from occurring or in more extreme cases they can advise if dental surgery may be needed.

Ardmore Hospital Assistance for At-Home Pet Care

By becoming educated about common pet health issues, you increase your pet’s chances of making a full recovery when facing health issues at home. By taking heed of the sorts of remedies that can be performed at home, you will help maintain the health and comfort for your pet between regular veterinary check-ups. The benefits can only increase when a pet owner knows more about the proper care and nutrition that their pet should be receiving.

However, when serious pet health issues come up, our knowledgeable veterinarians at Ardmore Animal Hospital are prepared to answer any and all questions that you, as a pet owner, may have concerning your pet’s health and comfort levels. Regular check-ups by a veterinarian at our animal hospital can help ensure that everything is as it should be for the well-being of your pet and can be preventative for any future ailments that may occur. Of course if you think something may be wrong with your pet, please call an animal hospital ASAP. We are happy to offer any assistance we can to local pet owners, so if you and your pet are from Ardmore or the surrounding areas, including Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Radnor, Gladwyne, Wynnewood, and Narbeth, do not hesitate to contact the animal hospital at 610-642-1160 with any questions or to bring your pet in to see a veterinarian! We will be able to advise you as to the severity of your pet’s condition over the phone and help you choose the best course of action.

Learn More About Specific Pet Health Illnesses

  • Arthritis
  • Bloat & Gastric Torsion
  • Cancer
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Diabetes Millitus
  • Distemper
  • Epilepsy
  • Fleas, Ticks & Mites
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Leptospirosis
  • Liver Shunt
  • Luxating Patella
  • Obesity
  • Parasite & Worms
  • Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament
  • Salmonella
  • Seizures
  • Vertigo

Call us at (610) 674-6636 if you have any questions or concerns.

5 of the most common health problems for pets

Pets are a beloved member of many Australian families. In fact, around 60 per cent of Australian households have a pet according to data collected by the RSPCA. Unfortunately, there are some diseases and ailments that are very common among cats and dogs, and it’s important that you know what to look out for so you know when a trip is needed to the vet.

Dr Charis Hii from My Vet Animal Hospital in Sydney outlines the five most common health issues for pets, and what you need to know about them.

1. Skin infections

“Skin infections make up roughly 20 per cent of the consults the average Australian veterinary clinic sees. There are a number of predisposing factors, but skin allergies are responsible for the bulk of skin infections we see in our clinic,” says Charis.

“Skin allergies are usually categorised broadly into the following groups: allergies to flea bites, contact allergies, food allergies, and atopy. If your pet has recurrent skin infections, it’s a very good idea to mention it to your vet, because these allergies can be very hard to pin down.”

2. Ear infections

“Ear infections are so sore and – unfortunately - they’re a lot more common than you might think. Some dogs are genetically predisposed to ear infections because their ears are so much floppier than ours, while for others, recurrent ear infections are tied to underlying skin disease,” says Charis.

“Some cases can be managed just by maintaining clean ears. Others are a bit trickier. You may need a bit of teamwork with your veterinarian to try and manage inflammation and find out how to prevent infections long-term.”

3. Digestive issues

“Vomiting and diarrhoea are so common in pets! This is especially true if you have a dog who loves to eat everything! Walk a Labrador and you’ll soon discover how much random food there is in Sydney, from that scrap of pizza crust tucked in the corner to the half-eaten fish and chips on the park bench.”

“That said, as we’ve gotten better at diagnosing digestive issues, we’ve helped many owners realise that vomiting and diarrhoea, while common, are not normal,” says Charis. “Some cases fall under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which can worsen with age. That’s why we always recommend speaking to your vet if you find yourself cleaning up vomit or diarrhoea a bit more than usual.”

4. Sore Knees, Back, Hips, Spine, etc.

“Pets of all ages can show up at the clinic feeling a little sore. Younger dogs and cats may have superhero ambitions and fly off the bed, only to land the wrong way. Other young ones may have certain developmental issues which make moving a chore. Older pets may feel a creak in their joints, which they won’t tell you about until the arthritis has really taken its toll,” says Charis.

“If you think your pet is walking a bit funny, it may be time to ask the vet. Some diseases are just much easier to manage if we catch it in time.”

5. Dental disease

“A whopping 70 per cent of cats and dogs have some form of dental disease by the time they’re three years old. And it doesn’t just mean bad breath dental disease is correlated with higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disease,” says Charis.

“The best thing to do is brush your pet’s teeth. It’s the only way you can make sure you’re cleaning every surface and getting between crevices. That said, we also know how hard it is to brush your pet’s teeth. In these cases a combination of strategies need to be employed to keep dental disease at bay.”

The Top 10 Dog Health Problems

Is your pooch feeling under the weather? There's a good chance she has one of these common dog illnesses.

Your dog probably knows how to beg for a treat, but she doesn’t how know to talk to you about her health — or tell you when she’s in pain. Unfortunately, pet canines may face a wide range of dog health conditions. Fortunately many of the most serious ones can be prevented with vaccinations and regular treatment.

Here are the top 10 dog health problems our four-legged friends face and dog illness symptoms to watch for.

Dog Health Condition No. 1: Heartworms

Heartworms are a serious and potentially deadly disease in which parasites infect a dog’s heart and arteries. Dogs are exposed to larvae through a mosquito bite and, if unchecked, the larvae can develop into large worms. Symptoms of heartworm disease range from coughing to lethargy, collapsing, and depression (moping or not greeting you at the door), says Bonnie Beaver, DVM, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. A heartworm infestation can progress to heart failure and death. Though not always successful, treatment options include medications to kill the parasites and, in advanced cases, surgery. Fortunately, heartworms are easily prevented. Options include daily oral medications, topicals, injections, and a simple, once-a-month pill.

Dog Health Condition No. 2: Vomiting and Diarrhea

There are many possible causes of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, but the most common is an infection such as parvovirus. Others include eating inappropriate foods or swallowing objects. “Dogs often eat little toys, items of clothing, chocolate, or gum wrappers,” says Beaver. “Xylitol [a sugar substitute] can shut down the kidneys. A pound of bacon can cause pancreatitis.”

An isolated bout of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs is usually not a cause for concern, but if your dog vomits repeatedly or for more than a day, take him to your veterinarian. Watch for symptoms such as blood in vomit or diarrhea, dark or black diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, fever, or a change in appetite. To prevent dehydration, give your dog plenty of water. After a bout of vomiting, try bland foods such as boiled potatoes, rice, and cooked skinless chicken. To combat diarrhea in dogs, the general rule is to avoid feeding your dog food for 12 to 24 hours or until your vet gives you the go-ahead.

Dog Health Condition No. 3: Obesity

Obesity is a common pet health problem. Just as in people, being overweight can have negative health effects on your pooch: Overweight dogs face a higher risk of joint pain, diabetes, and liver disease. “We’re feeding them too much calorie-dense food and not giving them enough exercise,” says Beaver.

Is your dog at his best weight? If he is, you should be able to feel his backbone and ribs without pressing. When looking at your dog from above, you should see a noticeable “waist” between the lower ribs and the hips from the side, you should be able to see the abdomen go up from the bottom of the rib cage to the thighs. If your dog doesn’t meet these standards, ask your vet to help you create a diet and exercise plan.

“Increase calorie output and decrease calorie intake,” says Beaver. Reduce snacks or treats, feed him small meals throughout the day, and make it a point to take him to the park to play and run around.

Dog Health Condition No. 4: Infectious Diseases

Another common pet health problem in dogs is infectious diseases, notably canine parvovirus and distemper. Canine parvovirus is extremely contagious and potentially deadly, contracted through contact with the feces of an infected dog. Symptoms can include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Canine distemper is a virus transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog’s urine, saliva, or blood. It affects a dog’s respiratory system as well as her gastrointestinal and central nervous system and even the eyes, specifically the membranes that cover the eyeballs and the underside of the eyelid. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing and difficulty breathing, fever, sudden loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, discharge of thick mucous from the eyes and nose, and possibly seizures.

Early prevention can protect your pet. “These and other common infectious diseases in dogs can be prevented by proper vaccination,” says Beaver. “Start when they are puppies.” As for treatment, options for canine parvovirus include IV fluids to prevent dehydration, anti-vomiting medication, antibiotics, and anti-pain medications. For canine distemper, treatment usually includes IV fluids, antibiotics (if your dog is coughing) to prevent pneumonia, and medications to control seizures. There are currently no medications that can destroy either virus.

Dog Health Condition No. 5: Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious form of bronchitis that causes inflammation in a dog’s voice box and windpipe. “The most common cause is exposure to other infected dogs, either at doggie daycare, the groomer’s, or a kennel,” says Beaver. “In most cases, the treatment is to let it run its course or to give a dog antibiotics.” You can also try using a humidifier or taking your pet into a steam-filled bathroom.

Dog Health Condition No. 6: Lower Urinary Tract Problems

Some common urinary tract problems in dogs include incontinence, bacterial infections, bladder stones, and even cancer. Symptoms include having to urinate more often, producing small amounts of urine, blood in the urine, incontinence, straining or crying in pain when trying to urinate, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. Treatment options include antibiotics, dietary changes, and surgery if needed to remove bladder stones or a tumor.

Dog Health Condition No. 7: Dental Disease

Periodontal disease, an infection of the gums, is very common in dogs, affecting an estimated 80 percent of dogs by the age of 2. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and other serious dog health problems. Symptoms range from smelly breath to difficulty eating and facial swelling, says Beaver. Treatment may include removing dental plaque and, if necessary, teeth. To prevent dental dog health problems, Beaver recommends regular check-ups with a vet dentist, giving your dog rawhide chews, and regularly brushing your pet’s teeth with dog toothpaste (your toothpaste can upset a dog’s stomach).

Dog Health Condition No. 8: Skin Problems

Most skin problems in dogs are due to parasites, skin infections, and allergies. “Probably the most common skin problem in dogs is demodectic mange, which is caused by a mite that lives in the hair follicles,” says Beaver.

Common parasites that involve the skin include fleas, ticks, ear mites, and sarcoptic mange mites, which cause scabies. Ringworm is a common skin infection it’s a highly contagious fungal infection that can cause hair loss or short hair or scaly patches. Allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust mites can trigger itching and rashes. Dogs can also develop allergies to common dog food ingredients such as soy, corn, wheat, beef, or chicken, triggering skin problems. And some dogs may simply cause irritation of the skin by licking an area too much, possibly from boredom or stress.

You may be able to spot fleas and ticks on your pet. Treatment options include using special medicated shampoos to kill parasites, antibiotics or antifungal medications, and corticosteroids and antihistamines to control itching. Your vet may also prescribe a diet to reduce food allergies or injections to control allergic reactions. To prevent fleas and ticks, ask your vet about monthly topical agents you can easily apply.

Dog Health Condition No. 9: Broken Bones

Broken bones, also called fractures, are a common problem in dogs — often from activities like jumping out of a window, says Beaver. Symptoms include limping, not moving, and a reason to suspect trauma (if the dog had been near a road, for instance). Treatment includes surgery, a splint, or a cast.

Dog Health Condition No. 10: Cancer

“One common form of cancer in dogs is skin cancer,” says Beaver. “There may be white patches on the top of the nose and ear tips.” Other symptoms of cancer in dogs include lumps, swelling, sores, rapid weight loss, lameness, sudden decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating, lack of energy, and black stools.

Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. As with people, a combination of approaches may be used, and the stage of the cancer, the type of disease, and the aggressiveness of the treatment can affect the outcome.

Regular vet visits and preventive steps can keep your dog in top pet health. And should you notice any unusual behavior or symptom, getting prompt attention at the vet’s office will often mean a speedy recovery from a dog illness.

Pets: are you aware of the risks to human health?

There is no doubt America is a nation of animal lovers. In 2012, more than 62% of American households included at least one pet. But while most of us are aware of the numerous benefits of pet ownership, are you aware of its risks to human health?

Share on Pinterest Though pets can offer a wide range of health benefits to humans, they can also pose a number of health risks.

Those of you who have a cat, dog, bird or any other animal in your household will likely consider that pet to be member of your family, and rightly so.

Pets offer comfort and companionship, and we can’t help but love them. In fact, when it comes to dogs, a recent study found the famous “puppy dog eyes” glare triggers a whopping 300% increase in owners’ oxytocin levels – the “love hormone” involved in maternal bonding.

What is more, pets offer a number of benefits to human health. In December 2014, Medical News Today reported on a study that associated household pets with stronger social skills in children with autism. And in May 2013, a study published in the journal Circulation linked pet ownership to reduced risk of heart disease.

But while pets can benefit our health in a number of ways, they also have the potential to spread infection and cause human illness. In this Spotlight, we take a look at the some of the health risks associated with ownership of many of the nation’s most-loved animals.

Most of us have heard of Campylobacter. The bacterium is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in the US, estimated to affect more than 1.3 million people annually.

As well as diarrhea, infection with Campylobacter – called campylobacteriosis – can cause cramping, abdominal pain and fever within 2-5 days of exposure to the bacteria.

While most cases are caused by exposure to contaminated food – particularly meat and eggs – and water, it can also be contracted through exposure to stool of an infected animal – including dogs and cats.

According to PetMD, around 49% of dogs and 45% of stray cats carry Campylobacter and shed it in their feces. It is most common in puppies and kittens younger than 6 months.

It should be noted that infection with Campylobacter is rarely life-threatening, though individuals with weak immune systems, young children and the elderly are most at risk.

Dipylidium caninum is the most common tapeworm in both dogs and cats in the US. It is caused by ingestion of fleas that carry the tapeworm larvae. This can happen when the animal grooms itself.

D. caninum can be passed to humans, though the risk of infection is very low. It most commonly occurs in young children who accidentally swallow an infected flea.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flea control is the best way to reduce the risk of D. caninum infection in both pets and humans.

Ancylostoma brazilense, A. caninum, A. ceylanicum and Uncinaria stenocephala are just some of the species of hookworm that can infect cats and dogs.

The hookworm parasite can be shed in the feces of animals, and humans can contract it by coming into contact with infected feces or contaminated soil and sand where such feces have been.

Hookworm infection in humans most commonly causes a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrans (CLM), in which the hookworm larvae penetrate the skin. This causes a red, itchy and sometimes painful rash.

In rare cases, specific strains of hookworm can infect the intestines of humans, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Toxocariasis is an infection caused by the transmission of Toxocara – parasitic roundworms – from dogs and cats to humans. According to the CDC, almost 14% of Americans have Toxocara antibodies, indicating that millions of us have been exposed to the parasite.

In dogs and cats infected with Toxocara, eggs of the parasite are shed in their feces. Humans can contract the parasite by accidentally swallowing dirt that has been contaminated with these feces.

Though it appears human exposure to Toxocara is high, most people infected with it do not develop symptoms or become sick. In the rare cases people do become ill from toxocariasis, the condition may cause inflammation and vision loss in one eye (ocular toxocariasis), or abdominal pain, fever, fatigue and coughing due to damage to various organs (visceral toxocariasis).

Though not as cute and fluffy as kittens and puppies, reptiles – such as turtles, snakes and lizards – are owned by around 3% of households in the US.

There is no doubt reptiles are interesting creatures and can make brilliant pets, but they are also a carrier of Salmonella – a bacteria responsible for salmonellosis. Humans can contract the bacteria simply through touching a reptile and ingesting the germs.

According to the CDC, more than 1 million people in the US become ill from Salmonella infection each year. Of these illnesses, more than 70,000 are caused by contact with reptiles.

Within 12-72 hours of being infected with Salmonella, people may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that last around 4-7 days. While most people fully recover without treatment, others may need to be hospitalized.

Turtles are a main culprit of Salmonella infection in the US. The sale of turtles less than 4 inches was even banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 because of their high disease risk – particularly among young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.

Rabies is one of the most severe diseases that humans can contract from dogs and cats, as well as smaller animals such as ferrets. A recent study reported by MNT found the disease kills around 59,000 people worldwide every year.

Rabies is a disease that infects the central nervous system (CNS). Caused by a bite from an animal infected with rabies virus, the disease causes fever, headache and weakness, before progressing to more severe symptoms – including hallucinations, full or partial paralysis, insomnia, anxiety and difficulty swallowing. Death normally occurs within days of more serious symptoms appearing.

According to the CDC, domestic animals accounted for 8% of all rabid animals reported in 2010.

In the US, the most common way domestic animals can contract rabies is through a bite from infected wild animals, particularly foxes, raccoons, skunks and bats. Symptoms normally occur 1-3 days after infection and include excess salivation, paralysis and unusual shyness or aggression.

If an owner suspects their pet may have been bitten by a rabid animal, they must take them to a veterinarian for care immediately, even if they have been vaccinated against the virus. Any person who believes they may have been bitten by a rabid animal must seek immediate medical care.

Despite its name, parrot fever does not only occur in parrots – all birds can be affected. However, human transmission of the disease most commonly involves parrots, parakeets, macaws, cockatiels and poultry – particularly turkeys and ducks.

Also known as psittacosis, parrot fever is a bacterial disease caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia psittaci that humans can contract through inhalation of birds’ secretions, including urine and feces.

If a person becomes infected with C. psittaci, symptoms usually appear around 10 days after exposure. These may include fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, chest pain and shortness of breath.

In more severe cases, infection with C. psittaci can cause inflammation of the brain, liver and other internal organs. It can also reduce lung function and cause pneumonia.

It is important to note, however, that parrot fever in humans is very rare in the US. According to the CDC, fewer than 50 people a year are infected, and this has been the case since 1996.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite – Toxoplasma gondii. It is most commonly contracted in humans through ingestion of undercooked or contaminated meat.

However, humans can also contract T. gondii by coming into contact with cat feces or any area or object contaminated with cat feces, as felines are carriers of it. T. gondii cannot be absorbed through skin, but infection can occur if the parasite is accidentally ingested.

It is estimated that more than 60 million people in the US are infected with T. gondii. However, very few people become ill from the infection as the human immune system is normally able to fight it.

If the infection does present symptoms, these may include swollen glands and muscle aches and pains. In very severe cases, T. gondii infection may cause damage to the brain and other organs, or eye damage.

Pregnant women, elderly individuals, young children and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk of developing symptoms from T. gondii infection.

Although our cute little kitties very rarely mean to scratch us, it does happen. And while many of us think nothing of a small graze from a cat’s claw, it has the potential to cause more damage than you may think.

Cat-scratch disease (CSD) is caused by a bacterium called Bartonella henselae, which around 40% of cats carry at some point in their lifetime, though most show no signs of illness.

B. henselae is most common in kittens under the age of 1 year, and since kittens are more likely to scratch during playtime, they are most likely to spread the bacterium to humans.

An early sign of CSD can be an infection at the site of the scratch around 3-14 days after it occurred, characterized by swelling, pain and tenderness. Headache, fever, loss of appetite and fatigue may also present, and in very rare cases, CSD can affect the brain, heart and other organs.

Children under the age of 5 years and individuals with weakened immune systems are most likely to experience severe symptoms from CSD.

It is clear pets can harbor an abundance of germs that can be passed to humans, but there are a number of ways pet-related infections can be prevented:

  • Wash your hands – hygiene is key for preventing the majority of pet-related infections. After coming into contact with pets, their saliva or feces, hands should be washed thoroughly with warm, soapy water. A scratch or bite from a pet should also be cleaned immediately
  • Pick up and dispose of feces – quickly disposing of your pet’s feces, particularly in areas where children may play – can prevent the spread of disease to humans and other animals
  • Avoid scratches and bites – the best way to avoid infections from pet bites and scratches is to avert them in the first place. If you are scratched by a cat, dog or other animal, clean the wound immediately with warm, soapy water. A cat or dog bite may require medical attention due to the risk of rabies or other serious infection
  • Get your pet vaccinated and routinely evaluated – visit a veterinarian regularly to ensure your pet is healthy and to prevent infectious diseases. Also, ensure your pet is up-to-date with the required vaccinations.

It is important to note that the likelihood of a person catching a disease from their pet is low, particularly if the correct precautions are taken. With this in mind, there is no reason why the millions of pet owners in the US can’t enjoy the companionship and joy their animals provide.

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