Topic Thread:      Pets & Companion Animals   »   Pet Care & Pet Health   »   Animal Diseases

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Animal Diseases

Pets are our companions and our friends. They give a great deal to us and ask little in return — just the love of a caring master who will shelter and protect them, as we do our children. It can be doubly tragic when a pet falls ill, not only because they are in distress, but because they cannot verbally communicate to us what is wrong or where it hurts.

Pet owners can prevent or mitigate the effects of pet and animal diseases by insuring that their pets are provided with proper living conditions, nutrition and exercise. Learning how to interpret your pet’s behaviors may alert you to a problem, since behavioral changes such as increased timidity or anxiety, lethargy, uncharacteristic aggressiveness, excessive licking or chewing of body parts, or loss of appetite often occur when a pet becomes ill. Note, however, that such behaviors by themselves do not necessarily indicate the presence of pet illness or disease.

Talking to other pet owners, especially those having pets similar to your own, is a good way to learn about your pet’s health and potential health problems or risks as well as what to expect if your pet does get sick. A comprehensive reference book for your type of animal is a handy item to have around the house. Knowing your pet and how it behaves is by far the best way to determine whether your pet is feeling frisky or is under the weather.

If you are unsure whether your pet has a health problem, seek the advice of your veterinarian. If you know your pet is suffering illness, a visit to the vet should be scheduled as soon as possible, since some animal diseases and medical conditions can become life threatening very quickly.

The best way to combat animal diseases is to be proactive, making sure your pet is properly vaccinated and gets his or her required booster shots. Vaccination is now available for most but not all common dog and cat diseases, some of which are potentially fatal. Dogs frequently come in contact with other canines during walks with their owners; a casual nose touch may be all that is necessary to spread a debilitating canine disease. An unvaccinated indoor cat may be at risk, even if it does not come into direct contact with an infected cat, from secondary contact and because some feline diseases are airborne. Also, indoor cats often temporarily escape; a brief encounter while outdoors, or walking through an area where an infected animal has been, may be all that is necessary to infect your precious family member. Get those shots!

Most feline diseases are not transmissible to dogs. Most canine diseases are not transmissible to cats. Most animal diseases are not transmissible to humans. Most does not mean all; some very serious diseases (which are also very rare in domesticated animals) are transmissible. Always use common sense and proper hygiene, such as washing your hands after cleaning cages or litter pan. Parasitic diseases and fungal infections are most easily transmitted between species. So before you let your dog kiss you, ask yourself, “Where has that tongue been?” On the other hand, don’t get freaked if the neighbor’s dog licks your child’s face.

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 31 August 2003, updated 14 February 2006.

Follow links to the right to learn more about animal diseases and pet diseases. Ten Spider Pets is dedicated to providing information and resources that can help you protect your pet’s well-being and health to maximize his or her longevity and quality of life. Check out other topics in our Pet Care & Pet Health section to learn more about how to care for pets and animals. If you desire to become a pet owner, investigate Pet Adoption & Rescue. If you already own a pet, you may be especially interested in Pet Health Care Products and Pet Products & Supplies. At the left margin, Related Links address topics of interest pertaining to pets and companion animals. View the Pet Care & Pet Health SiteMap for a complete list of pet care and pet health topics.

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