Humans have their tennis elbow, but they don't have a corner on the market. Dogs also are prone to an inherited disease called elbow dysplasia.. Both elbows are normally affected, but the condition also can affect just one limb.
Elbow dysplasia describes a type of damage within the elbow joint, often resulting in severe arthritis. Some dogs will display only a slight limp or an otherwise abnormal gait; others will end up virtually crippled by the pain. Dogs in the early stages of the disorder often hold their elbows outward or stand with their feet rotated outward. Or, they may shuffle their feet excessively and flip their front feet outward as they walk. Some are notable only by the dog spending an inordinate amount of time sitting or lying down, keeping weight off of its feet. [...]
Humans don't have a monopoly on heart disease - our furry friends also are susceptible to a wide range of cardiovascular conditions. Smaller breed dogs, in particular, are more likely to develop heart disease, including heart "murmurs."
Heart murmurs occur when the animal's heart function has deteriorated, creating an abnormal blood flow within the heart's chambers. The condition may be congenital, meaning the animal was born with the problem, or else it can develop as the result of disease and aging. Some conditions aren't very serious; others will progress rapidly, causing congestive heart failure and death. [...]
Hearing loss in dogs, as in humans, can be caused by a wide range of disease, trauma, and/or congenital problems. In congenital cases, the dog is born deaf. Hearing loss can come on suddenly or gradually due to injury, disease, ear infections, exposure to loud noises or explosions, or simply the wear and tear of old age.
Hearing loss is categorized as unilateral (affecting one ear only) or bilateral (affecting both ears). Dogs with white or partially white coats are often subject to a congenital form of deafness connected with the special pigmentation in their skin. In these cases the dog may have unpigmented skin in the inner ear, which causes the nerve endings inside the ear to wither away and die when the affected puppy is only a few weeks old. The end result is deafness.
Unlike some conditions, hearing problems are usually noticeable to the pet owner. [...]
It's startling for many pet owners to learn that their furry friends also are susceptible to allergies, including hives (urticaria). Contact with plants, insect stings, or certain types of food can cause a dog to break out in hives. While usually not serious and rarely lasting for more than a few days, these welts are extremely itchy, and many dogs will scratch themselves raw during an outbreak. In conjunction with this problem, many dogs also develop swelling of the face, a condition known as angiodema.
The good news is that hives aren't very common in animals. Those that are affected, however, tend to have them constantly, and it can become a challenge to identify the cause. Complicating the problem is that an animal may suddenly develop an allergy to something that it has been around its entire life without prior problems. [...]
In a normal eye the lens is clear and translucent, the better to perform its job of transmitting and focusing light onto the retina in the back of the eye. When disease, aging, or injury clouds and/or damages this lens, a variety of vision-related problems can occur.
One commonly recognized form of lens opacity is a cataract, which causes a cloudy film to gradually grow over the lens, obscuring vision. Most cataracts in dogs are genetically related. How old the dog is when cataracts appear and how severe they become depends largely on what type of breed is affected. [...]
In dogs, heart failure is usually characterized by problems with the mitral valve. This is especially true of smaller breeds, but is applicable to at least some extent with all dogs. The mitral valve refers to the muscular valve that separates the left atrium and ventricle. Its function, when working properly, is to prevent the back flow of blood once it has passed through one section of the heart to increase the efficiency of the heart's pumping, i.e. - each portion of blood that passes through the heart only needs to be pumped once because the mitral valve prevents it from flowing backwards. Over time, however, this valve begins to shrink and harden as a natural consequence of aging. [...]
Pancreatitis is a disorder of the pancreas wherein it fails to properly perform its roles as the producer of digestive enzymes. More specifically, the enzymes are still produced, but the pancreas loses its unique ability to handle them effectively and so they break down before they're delivered to the parts of the body where they're needed. Instead of digesting food, they break down the tissue in and around the pancreas itself.
Pancreatitis can have a number of causes, and is usually the result of several causes coalescing. Diets that are high in fat may lead to obesity, which is a major contributing factor to the development of the disease. In addition, certain medications used to treat other diseases may increase the risk that a dog will contract pancreatitis, including corticosteroids and azathioprine. [...]
Panosteitis is a canine disease about which very little is known. It seems to occur almost at random (although German Shepherds as a breed tend to produce the most cases) and has a tendency to vanish and return with seemingly little provocation. The disease manifests as a sudden lameness in one leg without any preceding trauma, strain, or any of the problems usually associated with lameness. Typically, it will appear first in one of the front legs and then without warning shift to another leg (leaving the initial area) with no predictable pattern.
Because of the mysterious nature of the disease, it often either goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. However, recent studies have shown that X-Rays will almost invariably reveal a greater than usual bone density in animals that carry the disease. [...]
One of a group of similar diseases (including pemphigus vulgaris, pemphigus vegetans, and pemphigus erythematosus) known collectively as the pemphigus complex, pemphigus foliaceus is a disease in which the body mistakenly produces antibodies that attack the outermost layer of skin. Though all breeds of dog are susceptible to this disease, the most common victims include Akitas, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, Spitz breeds, and Bearded Collies.
Because pemphigus foliaceus affects the most superficial skin layer, it is fortunately very easy to spot and diagnose. It usually manifests at first as a scaly texture to the skin, which then results in blisters that quickly rupture and cause scabs and other pus-filled sores. The blisters tend to come to a head and drain rapidly so they may be hard to find, but in general the disease has a very distinctive look and feel that makes it hard to misidentify. [...]
Most people are either unfamiliar with the term "shunt" or are used to its application as a treatment to drain excess fluid from the brain following a stroke.
There is another type, however, that can occur in animals, including dogs. Specifically, a portosystemic shunt is an abnormal connection between the hepatic portal vein and the rest of the circulatory system. This vein connects the gastrointestinal tract to the liver. This abnormal connection in turn causes blood from the gastrointestinal tract to bypass the liver, depriving it of oxygen and vital nutrients. When this occurs, the liver is unable to completely perform its own vital functions, including assisting with the body's metabolism and eliminating toxins from the system. The final effect is to expose the affected animal's body to toxic byproducts from its own digestive system. [...]
Among the many hereditary eye disorders that can appear in your canine is an unusual condition known as an ocular coloboma. Colobomas are a congenital anomaly in which some of the structures of the eye are missing. This occurs when tissues fail to fuse and/or form completely while the puppy is still in the mother's womb. In ocular colobomas, for example, there is a visible black hole or cleft in the ocular nerve.
Colobomas also can be found in other structures within the eye, including the iris, choroid, ciliary body, eyelid, lens, and retina, where they again are present as a hole, split or cleft in the affected structure. [...]
One of the multiple eye disorders that can affect your dog is an inherited condition known as iris coloboma. With this condition, and for unknown reasons, development of eye tissues is incomplete in the womb. This causes the puppy to be born with a hole, split, or cleft in certain structures within the affected eye. In this case it's the iris, which is the colored portion in the front of the eye. Dogs with this condition will have a dark hole and/or an irregularly shaped iris, but their vision is usually not impaired. However, they may squint and be uncomfortable in bright light, since the coloboma prevents the iris from contracting normally upon exposure to light. [...]
Cataracts are one of the most well-known forms of eye disease, appearing as a cloudy or opaque spot that changes the lens of the eye and causes it to lose its translucence. Cataracts may be limited to a small section of the lens, or they may grow to affect the entire eye. Cataracts also can strike one or both eyes, depending upon the cause. If left untreated, cataracts inevitably end up costing the dog its sight.
Many breeds are prone to inherited cataracts, which can be passed along through both dominant and recessive genes. Inherited forms result in what are known as primary cataracts. [...]
A dog's eyes are vulnerable to literally dozens of diseases. One of the more unusual of these is known as Persistent Pupillary Membrane, or PPM.
With this condition, strands of membrane are present in the eye, often crisscrossing it and connecting to various structures within the eye. These strands are leftover remnants of blood vessels that supplied nutrients to the developing eye before the puppy was born. In most cases these vessels deteriorate and disappear before or shortly after birth. When they do not, PPM is the result.
PPM may or may not impair your dog's vision, depending upon the location of the membrane strands. Often these cross from the iris to the cornea, where they can cause cloudiness (opacity) in the cornea. [...]
Many dogs experience skin conditions throughout their lifetime, and the bulk of these are caused by allergies. Canines react to many of the same allergens as humans, specifically flea bites, dust and dust mites, trees, grasses, weed pollens, milk and dairy products, foods and food additives (usually meats, grains, and chemical preservatives), rubber and plastic materials, and fabrics like nylon and wool.
Exposure to an allergen causes the affected dog's immune response to kick into gear, in an attempt to protect the dog. It does this by producing a protein known as IgE, which in turn attaches itself to "mast cells," which are disease-fighting white blood cells located in the animal's skin. This process also releases chemicals like histamine, which create many of the irritating symptoms of an allergy, including a runny nose. [...]