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Warning Signs for Treatable Conditions

The following pet health problems are often the most overlooked by many pet owners with the best intentions for the care of their pets. Yet, these issues can have a major impact on the length and quality of life where your pet is concerned. They may not seem like major problems, but they can lead to a number of dangerous health issues.


Lumps, large or small, might well be nothing other than fatty tissue. A lump could be an infection, a reaction to a foreign body, such as a thorn, or a form of neoplasia (cancer). Neoplastic growths can be benign or malignant. Most “lumpy” growths are not serious, but catching a “bad” growth early is important. It is advised that any new lumps you find on your pet should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

Excess Weight

Extra weight in pets has many of the same serious consequences that are seen in people, and it is estimated that greater than 50 percent of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Overweight pets are at increased risk for osteoarthritis, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament (a.k.a. ACL) injury, kidney disease, and many kinds of cancer. Being overweight decreases a pet’s life expectancy by up to 2.5 years.

During routine wellness examinations Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s weight during annual or routine exams, and help you with a weight loss plan should you need one.

Dental care

By the age of 3 years, approximately 80 percent of pets have some form of dental disease. If dental problems are not addressed, the ligament around the tooth may loosen, leading to painful chewing and eventual loss of teeth. In addition, the bacteria surrounding the bad tooth, or teeth, can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart, liver, kidneys, and other major organs. Your veterinarian will examine your pet’s teeth during regular exams and make recommendations for dental care or treatment.

Ear infections

While some pets are more prone to ear infections than others, this is one of the most common problems veterinarians see. An external ear infection, or “otitis externa,” can be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic in origin. Often there is an underlying issue like environmental allergies or low thyroid levels. Symptoms include scratching or rubbing at the ear, shaking the head, an unpleasant odor, redness of the ear, and/or holding the head or ear in an abnormal position. Even though ear infections are generally not life threatening, they are uncomfortable for your pet, and should be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Water intake

Of course you know your pet needs water, but actually paying attention to your pet’s water intake may be one of the most important things that you do on a daily basis. Changes (especially increased water intake) can be a sign of a number of problems, including kidney disease and diabetes. It can also signal problems such as lower urinary tract or bladder infections, high calcium, liver disease, systemic infections, and Cushing’s syndrome. Letting your veterinarian know about changes in your pet’s water consumption can help diagnose what could be a serious, and preventable problem.

We all want what’s best for our pets, and it’s up to us to recognize changes in our pets and their behaviors that are treatable—before they become serious.