Cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and AIDS are among the diseases that also affect cats and dogs throughout their lives.
You may have heard of zoonosis, diseases that can be transmitted from pets (and other animals) to humans, such as toxoplasmosis – an infection caused by a protozoan found in cat feces.
But did you know that pets can also have “human” diseases, without necessarily contracting them from humans? Check out which are the most frequent and how to treat them:
Like humans, pets can also develop malignant tumors. The most common in cats and dogs are breast cancer, skin cancer and lymphomas. In general, the disease is more prevalent in older animals.
Symptoms can be nonspecific, such as weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, apathy, or lumps (in the case of breast cancer or lymphoma). Treatment ranges from surgery for tumor removal to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Dogs and cats can also have diabetes, a deficiency in producing enough insulin for the animal’s needs that increases blood sugar. The causes can be overweight, incorrect diet, hormonal problems, stress and genetic predisposition.
The main symptoms are increased urination and water intake, weight loss and recurrent infections. The disease has no cure, but it can be treated with insulin injections, changes in diet and physical activity, just like in humans.
AIDS and feline leukemia
Both diseases are exclusively feline and transmitted by contact – licking, biting and scratching, but only from cat to cat. They are caused by a retrovirus and impair the animal’s immunity, leaving it more prone to other diseases. There is already a vaccine against leukemia on the market, but not against feline AIDS. Treatment includes mainly preventing other illnesses from appearing, with care to increase the pet’s quality of life and longevity.
More common in dogs than in cats, it has both genetic and acquired causes. The genetic origin is less common and usually manifests when the dog is still young, after 3 years of age. Acquired epilepsy, on the other hand, is due to some physical trauma, such as poisoning or even a hit to the head, and can happen to any breed and at any age.
It is not easy to identify epilepsy in animals, as it is not always accompanied by seizures. Small spasms, strange behaviors or dizziness can indicate the condition. Treatment includes human anti-epileptic drugs, but it doesn’t always work. The best thing to do is to pay attention to the animal’s behavior, try not to leave him alone for long periods of time and seek a veterinarian if he has severe crises.
Cataracts and glaucoma
Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens of the eye, and glaucoma is a problem in the drainage of fluids in the eyes, which leads to an increase in intraocular pressure and compromises the optic nerve. Both impair vision and can cause blindness, affecting cats and, especially, dogs.
The most common causes, as in humans, are aging and diabetes. In some cases, however, these problems are the consequences of infections spread by ticks. It is not difficult to identify that the pet is not seeing well: difficulty in finding objects or recognizing the owner, frequent collisions and sensitivity to light are some clues. In the case of glaucoma, which causes pain, the animal may acquire the habit of rubbing its eyes with its paws.
Cataract treatment is done with surgery; glaucoma, on the other hand, is based on eye drops and medications to decrease intraocular pressure.