UNCOMMON PET ILLNESSES

UNCOMMON PET ILLNESSES

These rare dog diseases are worth knowing about.

Malignant Hyperthermia

Dogs with malignant hyperthermia produce desperately high body temperatures in response to a variety of stimuli, including stress, excitement, activity, and anesthetic agents. These individuals have faulty channels in their muscle cells that cause them to contract and then fail to relax normally. This causes muscle twitches and spasms. The high body temperature that results can lead to severe metabolic changes, a rapid and uneven heart rhythm, organ failure, and sometimes death. Episodes can be treated with intravenous administration of the drug dantrolene.

Ectopic Ureter

Urinary tract infections or inadequate housetraining are the first things that come to mind when a young dog is leaving behind dribbles (or puddles) of urine on the floor. Once these conditions are ruled out, however, the possibility of an ectopic ureter should be considered. Ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. A relatively rare canine birth defect sometimes results in one or both of these tubes emptying away from their normal location in the bladder. Surgery is the most effective way to treat ectopic ureters in dogs, but sometimes medications or other therapies can be useful as well.

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is a disorder affecting the connection between nerves and muscles. Most cases develop as a result of the dog’s immune system attacking this neuromuscular junction, but cancer, disorders of the thyroid gland or thymus, birth defects, and other conditions may also be to blame. Muscle weakness is the classic sign of myasthenia. Sometimes this weakness is limited to a small group of muscles (e.g., those of the esophagus), but in other cases, the entire body seems to be affected.

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