Chronic Disease Management for Your Dog
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Chronic Disease Management for Your Dog

by Krystin Langer
Oct 12, 2023

Dogs are important members of our families and, just like humans, they can face chronic health conditions that are lifelong and can cause their quality of life to deteriorate as they age. These conditions usually require ongoing treatment, which is where veterinary specialty medicine can play a pivotal role.

In this article, we'll delve into chronic disease management for your four-legged friend and the different ways that veterinary specialists can help.

These are some of the most common chronic diseases in dogs:

1. Arthritis:

Arthritis is a common chronic condition in dogs, especially in senior or larger breeds. This condition is caused by inflammation of joints which can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Arthritis can significantly impact a dog's quality of life, but early diagnosis and proper management can help alleviate discomfort. Treatment options may include medication, weight management, physical therapy, and joint supplements.

2. Diabetes:

Diabetes is another prevalent chronic disease in dogs, characterized by the body's inability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. This condition can lead to symptoms such as increased thirst and appetite, frequent urination and weight loss. Managing diabetes in dogs involves insulin therapy, dietary modifications, and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels.

3. Kidney Disease:

Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition that affects a dog's ability to filter waste products from the blood. Early signs of this disease can be subtle, but as the disease advances, symptoms like increased drinking and urination, decreased appetite and weight loss become more apparent. Management of chronic kidney disease focuses on maintaining kidney function through a combination of prioritizing nutritional needs and consistent medication.

4. Allergies:

Chronic allergies are a common issue in dogs and can manifest in various ways, including skin irritations, ear infections, and gastrointestinal problems. Identifying the allergen(s) responsible for a dog's discomfort can be challenging, but once diagnosed, treatment options may include dietary changes, allergy medications, and allergy shots (immunotherapy).

5. Heart Disease:

Chronic heart diseases, such as congestive heart failure and valvular disease, can affect a dog's heart function and overall well-being. Symptoms may include coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, and fluid retention. Managing heart disease in dogs involves medications to improve heart function, dietary adjustments, and regular monitoring to prevent complications.

Collaboration is one of the key elements in chronic disease management. Your primary care veterinarian and a Board-Certified veterinary specialist work together as a team to ensure your pet receives comprehensive care. This collaboration, known as the Triad of Care, ensures that all aspects of your dog's health are considered, from their general well-being to the ongoing treatment of these chronic conditions. Early detection, collaborative care, and communication with your primary care veterinarian and a veterinary specialist is the key to ensuring that your pet receives the best possible care.

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