The domestic dog’s health is possibly one of the best-studied areas in veterinary medicine, since the dog has had such a long and close relationship with humans.
Dogs are susceptible to various diseases; similarly to humans, they can have diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, or arthritis. Other diseases are more specific to canines.
Bloat and gastric torsion
Breeds with deep chests and narrow waists, such as the Bouvier des Flandres or Doberman Pinscher, for instance, are susceptible to a syndrome of gastric torsion and bloat, where the stomach twists on its supporting ligaments, sealing off the exits, and the contents begin to generate gas pressure which is not only terribly painful (as can be imagined by anyone who has experienced even mild gas pains), but kills large areas of stomach tissue fairly quickly, resulting in a painful death within a very few hours. A similar disease is seen in cattle and horses; and a similar home remedy has sometimes been effective when a veterinarian is not at hand, i.e. puncturing the stomach from outside with a sharp object to relieve the pressure. Obviously, such a remedy must only be attempted as a last resort. Dogs who have experienced such an attack are very susceptible to another which is usually more severe, and this is one case where the most medical intervention usually proves the best choice, normally involving abdominal surgery to tack the dog’s stomach down in several places to prevent recurrence.
Elderly dogs are susceptible to an unusual form of intense vertigo, the cause of which is unknown; the affected dog is unable to stand up and remains sprawled on the floor, the eyes displaying intense nystagmus, for typically a few days. While terrifying in appearance, owners often fearing that the dog has had a fatal stroke (which is actually uncommon in dogs), the vertigo passes within a few days and by the end of a week the dog is staggering around upright, and within another week there is no evidence that anything at all had happened. The only risk of the disease is that the dog is unable to eat or drink in that condition, and must receive supportive therapy of intravenous fluids and nutrition; a light sedative is usually also administered, as the dog naturally seems terrified during the experience.
The Passive smoking article has information on the effects of second-hand smoke on dogs.
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