Recent studies have shown that there are a few ‘human’ diseases that can affect your dogs and cats, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most common.
While there is an increase in the number of humans affected by diabetes, the trend also applies to cats; one in 200 pet cats have diabetes, compared to 1 in 900 three decades ago.
Cats are naturally designed to be outside, hunting and playing, getting lots of frequent exercise. Conversely, in recent years, inner city cats are getting very little exercise and are being fed more and more frequently. It’s important, however, to point out that not all overweight cats get diabetes, and it many cases it relies on genetics rather than lifestyle.
In terms of dogs, about 3/1000 dogs have diabetes in the UK. They do not get type-2 diabetes, but are more likely to have type-1 than cats are, where their body’s immune system stops producing insulin. If your pet is constantly thirsty, urinating frequently and losing weight, these are all symptoms of diabetes.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
FIV attacks feline’s immune system, rendering them incapable of fighting off infections, similarly to HIV in humans. Somewhere between 1.5% and 3% of otherwise healthy cats are affected with this, and symptoms show persistent fevers, a loss of appetite and a coat in poor condition. Other signs of infection include inflammation of the gums and infections of the skin, eyes, bladder, and upper respiratory tract.
Dogs on Viagra
Dogs who suffer from breathlessness, and who sometimes collapse suddenly, may be given Viagra, the drug famous for helping men with erectile dysfunction. Before this became its most common use, it was being tested by scientists to see if it could help high blood pressure. Now it can be used to treat pulmonary hypertension in dogs, which is high blood pressure in the lungs. However, you can’t just give human pills to your pets; the drug is licenced and formatted separately for people and pets.
Similarly to humans, this condition is when the thyroid gland in the neck produces excess hormones, and if your cat is hyperactive, restless and losing weight, then this could be the cause of the problem. For cats, they can be given an injection of radioactive iodine, which, when concentrated in the thyroid gland, kills overactive thyroid cells. However, the cats have to be kept in isolation for several weeks after the treatment, as they could be emitting radiation for some time. Contrarily, about 4 in every 1,000 dogs suffer underactive thyroids, which can be helped through thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Dogs with this problem behave lazier and slower than usual, and gain a large amount of weight.
Approximately 1 in 100 dogs have epilepsy – cats can sometimes get this condition but it is a lot less common. Sometimes it causes convulsions, but it is otherwise quite difficult to notice. Some animals can be given anti-epileptic pills, but this doesn’t work for every case. Research suggests a diet rich in certain fatty acids could help, and this is being tried to see if the research stands up to rigorous testing.
Studying diseases common to humans and pets could potentially help us make breakthroughs about the diseases we experience ourselves. Furthermore, if you notice symptoms in your pet of one of these human conditions, it is important to get them checked out as quickly as possible, as many of these can be easily treated.