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The Hype about Hyperadrenocortism

Cushings Syndrome in animals

Hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s Disease, is a condition whereby the level of cortisol in the body is too high.  It is a condition which is also found in humans and the name Cushing’s Disease or also commonly known as Cushing’s Syndrome comes from Harvey Cushing, who in 1912, was one of the first physicians to report a patient affected with excessive cortisol hormone also otherwise known as glucocorticoid.



Diabetes Defined

Diabetes in dogs and cats

The pancreas is an organ in the body which is closely associated with the segment of intestine that leaves the stomach.  The pancreas releases enzymes involved in digestion as well as hormones with specific functions.  One of these hormones is insulin.  Insulin is released from the pancreas in response to the intake of food, especially carbohydrates and to a lesser degree fats and protein.  Insulin circulates in the bloodstream and facilitates the uptake of the ingested nutrients into the body’s own stores of energy.  



My pet is having a fit! - Seizures in Pets

Seizures in Pets

Anyone who has ever seen an animal experiencing a seizure will know that it is a “hair-raising” event. Seizures or ‘fits’ is a well-described phenomenon in domestic pets. The way in which a fit or seizure presents can vary significantly, from what seems to be a brief moment of absent-mindedness to full blown body contractions where the animal is semi-conscious and lying on the ground shivering, shaking and convulsing, with foam coming out the mouth and looking like it is busy dying. Owners, and even vets who may have seen such seizures in pets quite often, still find it disturbing at the best of times.  



Battle of the Bulge

Obesity

Most people, at some point in time, struggle to shed some extra weight. Obesity in humans has reached epidemic proportions and in a study released two years ago, South Africans were classified as the third fattest people on earth. Worse than this, is the fact that obesity in pets is following this trend and fast becoming a disease on its own. Some studies show that more than 50 % of pets are overweight. This alarming figure effectively means we are “killing our pets with kindness.” Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excessive amounts of body fat. Body fat increases when the amount of energy taken in (by eating food) exceeds the amount of energy used (by exercising). Vets classify a pet as obese if the animal weighs more than 15 to 20 % of his/her ideal body weight.  Body Mass Index or BMI which is commonly used in humans to define obesity is not commonly used in animals, because there is such a huge variation between and within different breeds. In animals, a Body Condition Score or BCS is referred to in terms of the animal’s ideal weight.



A killer disease with a misleading name

Catflu

The name of a particular disease is often influenced by the circumstances around the original occurrence of such a disease. For example “sleeping disease” in humans was originally associated with the green fever trees found in low lying areas around South Africa. As time went by and a better understanding of the disease became apparent, it became clear that the disease was transmitted by Tsetse flies and had nothing to do with the trees. Similarly there is a killer disease in dogs with a misleading name – CATFLU. When the disease was first diagnosed in the late 1970’s, it was thought to be a disease transmitted from cats to dogs. Later it was discovered that cats did not harbour the offending organism causing the disease, but an extremely small yet resilient virus called, Parvo virus in actual fact is responsible for the disease.



Tiny but deadly

Ticks

Living in a warm and sunny country is great, but with it comes all the parasites and diseases associated with a warm and/or tropical climate. One of these little scourges can be found nearly all over South Africa, namely ticks. Most people have at some or other time encountered a tick on their pet. This can be quite distressing – especially if you consider a disease like biliary (tick fever).



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