Animal bodies are a marvel of interactions between organs and systems kept in balance by the production of enzymes that aid in metabolic processes and hormones that regulate body functions. When the balance is disturbed by illness,injury or advancing age, the body goes awry. Appetite and water consumption may change, organs may malfunction, or medication to treat one illness may cause another.

Such is the case with Cushing's Disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, the production of excess hormones from the adrenal glands. Cushing's usually strikes older dogs with a bucket full of symptoms that can mimic other diseases. Increased appetite, increased drinking and urination, panting, high blood pressure, bulging abdomen,skin lumps and discolouration, hair loss, muscle weakness, and nervous system disorders can occur with the disease.

Located above the kidneys, the adrenals produce cortin, a complex of steroid hormones- including cortisone and cortisol- that help regulate body weight, mineral balance, the structure of connective tissues, some white blood cell production, and skin health. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortin. Presence of a tumour on either the adrenal glands or pituitary can cause the adrenals to run amok and trigger cushing's by producing an excess of cortin.


The symptoms may creep up on the pet and pet owner. Pets do not appear to be critically ill, because the danger signs of vomiting, diahorrea, pain, seizures, and bleeding do not occur. To the contrary the symptoms often appear connected to those of normal ageing. Muscle weakness also causes lethargy, and a reduced tolerance for exercise, both of which are typical in older dogs and cause no alarm in owners. Often owners do not seek veterinary advice until the signs become unmistakable or intolerable- when the dog breaks his house training or begs to go outside during the night for example.

The typical cushing's dog will have a bulging, saggy belly caused by a decrease in muscle strength and redistribution of fat from body storage areas to the abdomen. As the disease progresses, hair loss may also become a major concern, and the skin thins and may lose its resistance to infection. 

Once suspected cushing's may be diagnosed through blood tests. Once it is diagnosed, tests can also differentiate between disease caused by pituitary gland tumour and disease caused by adrenal gland tumour.

About 85% of cases are caused by pituitary gland tumours. Pituitary gland induced cushing's can be treated by drug therapy, but it cannot be cured. Adrenal gland tumours can often be surgically removed.


There are several drug therapies available, including Mitotane, Ketoconazole, Trilostane, and L-Deprenyl hydrochloride. Each has potential side effects.

Mitotane is relatively inexpensive and convenient to use, but it carries the potential for serious side effects. It works by killing the outer layer of the adrenal gland that manufactures the corticosteroids. Careful regulation of the drug determines how much of the cortex is killed, so that a normal amount of the hormone can be produced. This protocol requires periodic blood tests to make sure the dog has a normal amount of cortisol and does not develop Addison's disease or experience an Addison's crisis. Once the proper amount of adrenal erosion has been achieved and the glands are producing the normal amount of cortin, the dog's condition may be maintained with doses once or twice a week. The drug is given with food so it can be properly absorbed into the dog's body , so it is important the dog has a good appetite.

Ketoconazole was originally developed to fight fungal infections in humans, , but researchers discovered that it could be useful in fighting cushing's by suppressing cortisol secretion in the adrenal glands. This drug cannot cause Addison's disease but it requires indefinite daily dosing and is expensive. Some dogs cannot absorb it , rendering it useless in 20-25 % of cases. It is useful to dogs that cannot tolerate Mitotane,has a  low incidences in toxicity, and is completely reversible if necessary.

L-Deprenyl was approved for use in canine cushing's disease in 1997. Originally studied as a treatment for Parkinson disease in humans . L- Deprenyl helps restore the balance of natural brain chemicals, which in turn alleviate the symptoms of the disease. In clinical trials about 70 % of dogs responded favourably with a lessening of symptoms and a reduction in cortisol production. 

Like Ketoconazole, L- Deprenyl does not cause Addison's disease and it has few side effects. However it is more expensive than Mitotane and not as reliable or as quick to show results.

Trilostane is the latest drug available to treat Cushing's disease. Approved for use in the USA in 2009, it works by inhibiting an enzyme that is involved in the production of cortisol. Addison's disease is a possibility, so dog's taking this medication must be monitored with blood tests. Lethargy and appetite reduction are common side effects especially early on.

Left untreated Cushing's disease will progress and can lead to life-threatening disorders such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and liver and kidney failure, and to chronic maladies such as hypothyroidism and infections of the skin,ears,gums, eyes or bladder. If your pet exhibits any of the early signs of cushing's and is 6 years old plus , make an appointment with your vet right away. Pituitary cushing's disease cannot be cured, but the treatments available can prolong your pets quality of life and keep him around for years longer. If an adrenal tumour is causing the disease surgery may be indicated. Either way its better to get started on the treatment as soon as possible.

notes are thanks to

p.s please if you suspect cushing's act quickly we lost our first Dogue Tyson to this unfortunately when he was passed on to us he was already displaying many of the symptoms we thought it was just him and the way he was , also we were told he was a lot younger than he actually was, we lost him just shy of his 12th birthday. 



Your usually happy-go-lucky dog seems unsteady and confused. Then he flops to the floor, even though he is unconscious he looks like he is treading water, he is having a seizure. Why is this happening , and what can you do ?

If he has them often , he may have a seizure disorder. Another name for that is EPILEPSY . Abnormal uncontrolled bursts of electrical activity in your dog's brain causes seizures, affecting how he looks and how he acts. Seizures can look like a twitch or uncontrollable shaking and can last from less than a minute to a several minutes.


 1. eating poison

2. liver disease

3. low or high blood sugar

4. kidney disease

5.electrolyte problems

6. anemia

7. head injury

8. encephalitis

9. strokes

10. brain cancer


Symptoms can include collapsing, jerking, twitching, stiffening, loss of consciousness, drooling, chomping, tongue chewing or foaming at the mouth. Dogs can fall to the side and make paddling motions their legs. They can sometimes poop or pee during a seizure.

Some dogs may look dazed, seem unsteady or confused or stare off into space before the seizure. Afterwards your dog may be disorientated, wobbly or temporarily blind. He may walk in circles and bump into things. He might have a lot of drool on his chin and could be bleeding in his mouth. if he bit himself. He may try to hide.


The most common kind is the generalised seizure, also called the grand mal seizure. a dog can lose consciousness and convulse. The abnormal electrical activity happens throughout the brain, they normally last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

With a focal seizure, the abnormal electrical activity happens in only part of the brain. Focal seizures can cause unusual movements in one leg or one side of the body. Sometimes they can only last only a couple of seconds. They may start as focal and become generalised seizures.

A psycho-motor seizure involves strange behaviour that only lasts a couple of minutes. Your dog may suddenly start attacking an imaginary object or chasing his tail. It can be hard to tell a psycho-motor seizure from odd behaviour, but a dog that has them will always do the same thing every time he has a seizure.

Seizures from unknown causes are called idiopathic epilepsy. They usually happen in dogs aged from 6 months to 6 years old. Although any dog can have a seizure , idiopathic epilepsy is more common in border collies, Labradors, Australian shepherds, beagles, Belgian Tervurens, collies and German shepherds.    


First, try to stay calm, if your dog is near something that could hurt them, move it, or gently slide him away. Stay away from your dog's mouth, and head, he could bite you. Don't put anything in his mouth , dog's cannot choke on their tongues. If you can time it.

If the seizures last for more than a few minutes, your dog is at risk of over heating, turn a fan on and put cold water on his paws to cool him down. Talk to your dog softly and gently touch him to assure him. Call your vet when the seizure ends.

If your dog's seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or has several in a row whilst unconscious, take him to your vet as soon as possible.The longer a seizure goes on the higher his temperature can rise, and he may have problems breathing. This can raise his risk of damage to the brain. Your vet may give IV Valium to stop the seizure .


Your vet will want to do a thorough physical examination and get some to lab work to look for causes of the seizures.

Your vet may prescribe some medication to control seizures like phenobarbital, or potassium bromide. You can give your dog phenobarbital twice a day, but over time it can damage his liver. He will need blood tests every 6 months. Potassium bromide doesn't work it's way through to the liver, making it a better choice for younger dogs that needs medicine for life. 

Always follow your vets instructions when administering medication. Don't let him miss a dose.


notes are thanks to







Heat Exhaustion, Hyperthermia in Dogs

Dog fur can be a great protection against the cold but in hot weather it can be a problem. This is because unlike humans, dogs eliminate heat by panting ( dogs have some sweat glands in their footpads which help with heat dissipation but only minimally). When the panting isn't enough, their body temperatures rise. This can be fatal if not corrected quickly.

What to watch for

Excessive panting and signs of discomfort indicating overheating. However it is important to be aware of the ambient temperature and take appropriate preventative measures.

Primary Cause

Any hot environment can cause heatstroke, but the most common cause is careless actions such as leaving a dog in a car on a hot day or forgetting to provide shade to an animal kept outdoors.

Immediate Care

It is essential to remove the the dog from the hot environment immediately, if the dog is unconscious, make sure no water enters nose or mouth as you follow these guidelines. also do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature; this can lead to other problems.

1. put your dog in the bathtub

2. run a cool not cold shower over your pet, covering the whole body, especially the back of the neck and head.

3. allow the water to fill up the bath tub whilst showering your dog. Keep the head elevated to prevent aspiration pneumonia.

4. if getting the dog into the bath tub is impractical, use a garden hose to cool the dog down or place him in a cool pool.

5. apply a cold pack to the dog's head to lower the temperature- a packet of frozen veg works well.

6. massage the legs. A vigorous rubbing helps the dog's circulation and reduces the risks of shock.

7.let the dog drink as much cool water as it wants , adding a pinch of salt, to the water bowl will help the dog to replace minerals it has lost through panting.

The following steps should be taken regardless of whether conscious , appears to recover well or was only mildly affected:

1. check for signs of shock

2. take the dog's temperature every 5 minutes, continuing water cooling until temp drops to under 39.4 degrees centigrade 

3. if the dogs temp drops a little lower to 37.8 don't worry, a sightly low temp is a lot less dangerous.

4. Treat for shock if necessary.

5. get immediate vet treatment, heatstroke can cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, unusual clotting of blood. On the way to the vets , travel with the window open and the air conditioning on.

Veterinary care

Treatment will consist mainly of replacing lost fluids and minerals. This may extend to secondary condition, which your vet will be able to identify. Intravenous fluid therapy and monitoring for secondary complications such as kidney failure , development of neurological symptoms, abnormal clotting, changing in blood pressure  and electrolyte abnormalities are typically recommended in cases of heatstroke.

Other causes

Dogs with thick fur, short noses, or those suffering from medical conditions such as laryngeal paralysis and obesity are predisposed to heatstroke. In addition dogs that like to exercise and play a lot such as working dogs should be closely watched  for signs of overheating, especially on hot days.


It can be prevented, by not exposing dogs to very hot and humid conditions, this is especially important for dogs with airway diseases and breeds with shortened faces , pugs, bulldogs, shi tsu's etc. , also when travelling in cars keep in well ventilated cages or baskets and always with the windows down and air conditioning on, even if the car is parked in the shade. When outside make sure in well ventilated area with plenty of water and shady spots.

with thanks to petmd for notes. 





If you take your dog or cat to the vets they will ask for a stool sample, both dogs and cats are victims of several different intestinal parasites often referred to as worms.The most common are roundworms , hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Only 2 out of the four can be seen in the stool without an unaided eye, roundworms and tapeworms.

Often you will be able to tell if your dog/cat has worms by the symptoms they exhibit. Most worm infestations will cause any or all of the following symptoms

 * diarrhoea perhaps with blood

 * weight loss

 * dry hair

 * general poor appearance

 * vomiting, perhaps with worms in the vomit

 However some infestations show few or no symptoms at all, some worm eggs or larvae can lay dormant in your pet's body and activated in times of stress or in the case of round and hook worms until the late stages of pregnancy infesting the soon-to-be born pups or kittens.

Look at the photo above and you will see roundworms can assume different sizes, tapeworms meanwhile will not be seen externally, in fact all you would be likely to see in the stool or attached to the fur would just be segments that have detached from the worm. Hooks and whips are so small its unlikely they would be seen in the stool.

This is exactly why a stool sample would be needed in order to discover which parasite is present. The presence of these worm eggs can only be seen microscopically.

Remember it is the goal of the parasite to remain in the intestinal tract if the come out they die !


A lot of puppies and kittens are born with microscopically small roundworm or ascarid, larvae in their tissues. They are introduced to the developing pup (or kitten) in their mothers uterus, via migration through the mother's tissues. They can also be transferred after the pup/kitten is born through their mother's milk. They make their way through to the intestinal tract where they can grow up to 5 inches in length!! They start shedding eggs and try their best to stay in the tract of the pup/kitten. These eggs can now reinfest the pup/kitten or others if an infested stool is eaten (yuck). Female roundworms can produce up to 200,000 eggs in just one day !! The eggs are protected by a hard shell, which enables them to live in the soil for up to a year. Pups/kittens with active roundworms in the intestines often appear pot bellied and have poor growth. If not treated in time a severe infestation can cause death by blockage of the intestine.

They do not just affect pups and kittens but adult dogs too, however as mentioned above the larvae can encyst in the body tissues remain dormant for periods of time and can activate in the last stages of pregnancy to infest the pups/kittens. Worming the mother has no effect on the encysted larvae and will still pass to the newborn. Almost all wormers only work on adult parasites in the intestinal tract.


This parasite is seen more in dogs than cats, adult worms although rarely seen in stools look like tiny pieces of thread with one end enlarged. They live in the cecum , the first section of the dogs large intestine, infestations are difficult to prove since they tend to shed few eggs, so even several samples of stool may come up with nothing.

If a dog is presented with chronic weight loss and stools that appear covered in mucous (especially the last part passed) and lives in a kennel situation or an area that whipworms are prevalent, the vet may prescribe a medication for whip worm based on the circumstantial evidence.

Although they rarely cause death, they can be a problem for the infested dog and the vet to diagnose !!


These are also more common in dogs , very small, thin worms that attach to the wall of the small intestine and suck blood. They get them from larval migration in the uterus, from contact with stool contaminated soil.or ingesting the eggs after birth. Can also be transferred by nursing mums through the milk.

A severe hook worm infestation can kill puppies, often making them severely anaemic from the loss of blood to the hook worms vampire like activities! Chronic hook worm infestation is a common cause of illness in older dogs, often shown in poor stamina, feed efficiency and weight maintenance. Other signs include bloody diarrhoea, weight loss, anaemia,and progressive weakness. Diagnosis is made by examining the faeces for eggs under a microscope.


These are transmitted to dogs/cats that ingest fleas (apparently fleas find tapeworm eggs tasty) or hunt and eat wildlife or rodents that is infested with the worms or fleas. Tapeworms can reach up to 4-6 inches in length within the intestine.  A tapeworm has a head followed by anything up to 90 segments , it is the last segments in the chain that are released from the worm that can be seen in stools, or attached to the animals fur under the tail. It's these segments that contain the eggs. They CANNOT be killed by the usual over the counter medicines so don't waste your money see the vet for the treatment that actually works.

Early diagnosis for any of the above is vital, a stool sample will be mixed with a solution that will make the eggs show up under a microscope (except tapeworm so watch for the segments left on tail or in faeces). Many vets include the examination of faeces in the annual check up.

A de-wormer solution can be bought to treat your pet. The type of de-wormer depends on which worm it is. They don't all respond to the same treatment and no single wormer kills all worms.


Remove all faeces from yard or litter box at least once a week (i do mine daily) , also watch where your dog goes when in parks etc, they are often infested with worm larvae.

Use the correct wormer under vet supervision, have their faeces checked regular by the vet. Do not mix wormers especially if on any other medication such as heart worm preventative, without consulting your vet. In persistent cases the vet will recommend and prescribe treatment on a regular basis all year long. Prescription wormers are more efficient and safer although more expensive. 






how to identify and remove a tick

It's going to happen one day to all animal lovers at some time. You return with your dog from a walk or a run about in the long grass and return with an unwanted passenger(s)- a tick. Ticks are a part of a family of ectoparasites ( external parasites) which live off the blood of mammals, latching onto the body of a dog, cat or even a person and feeding until they are satiated, before disengaging from the body and dropping off to start the process all over again (yuck). Ticks are very unpleasant, both in appearance and in their behaviour and if you find one on your furry the temptation to attempt to scrape it off or otherwise remove it can be hard to ignore !! But unless you remove it properly and completely you run the risk of leaving part of it embedded under the skin which can lead to a range of potential infections or complications.

During the summer months vets receive several visits a week from anxious owners wishing to have a tick removed from their pet, which any vet or vet nurse can competently remove in a few minutes, but doing it at home does not need to be hard if you follow simple advice to make sure you get it right first time.

how to identify a tick

The first step towards being able to find ticks on your pet and removing them is knowing what a tick looks like ! Ticks come in a variety of sizes depending how old they are and how recently they have fed, from the size of a pinhead up to around the size of a finger nail. They are either oval or rounded in appearance and come in a range of colours from a pale cream up to a fairly deep grey or brown, and everything in between. It usually looks like a small pebble as once a tick has attached itself you won't see the legs or it's probe which the use to pierce the skin with.

finding ticks on your pet

Ticks will attach themselves to any exposed skin on your pet, usually the least hairy areas where the blood supply is closer to the surface, favourite areas are the face,neck, underbelly and inside of the legs. Any time you come back from a walk or run through long grass , give them a quick once over to check for ticks.

how not to remove a tick

Before explaining how to remove a tick, here are a few ways not to.......

* do not simply brush or scrape this could lead to the probe breaking off under the skin

* do not just leave it for your pet to deal with

* do not remove with bare hands and fingernails- ticks can spread diseases such as lyme  disease, which both you and your pet are vulnerable to. 

* do not attempt to burn or singe a tick off.

* do not spray with an insecticide or toxin.

* do not use alcohol to remove a tick or attempt to suffocate with a layer of vaseline or soap.

Appropriate ways to remove a tick

There are several appropriate ways to remove a tick safely and effectively from your pet, first of all think about how you are going to dispose of the tick once removed, ticks are parasites that spread diseases and should not be just thrown outside or alive. Have to hand a jar or sealed container to place the tick in to dispose of safely.

* by far the easiest , safest and effective way to remove a tick from your pet is the use of a tool called a 'tick twister' , these are small plastic picks, with a claw-shaped head which slips between the body of the tick and your pet, giving you the leverage to to twist the tick harmlessly and effectively out of your pets skin in one piece. This is what your vet would more than likely use. Most vets will sell these over the counter, or you can buy them online, a handy tool to have in your first aid kit. 

* Or use a pair of blunt needle nose tweezers to remove the tick, grasp the tick as close to your pets skin as you can, ( do not take hold of the body of the tick or squeeze the body, as this can kill the tick , leaving the front of the head embedded under the skin releasing toxins ) then gently and with a consistent pressure, twist and lever the tick away from the skin. So not apply too much force because as mentioned you do not want the head left behind.


Whichever method you do use,it is vital to make sure you remove the whole of the tick, if by accident the head part does break off ad remain embedded pop your pet along to the vet for them to have a look, and probably prescribe a course of antibiotics. Once you have removed the tick, give the affected area a wash over with antiseptic, keep an eye on it for a couple of days to make sure it does not become infected. Rarely the tick can transmit Lyme disease please be aware of the symptoms, which can include, loss of appetite, lameness, general lethargy and depression (in both human and pets). If concerned take your pet to the vets and or yourself to the drs.


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