Many diseases can affect your pooch, and inflammatory diseases are no exception. Inflammation can cause localized redness, swelling, stiffness and severe pain for your pet as well as seizures and severe vomiting. Some are life threatening, but chronic inflammatory diseases often can be controlled with medication.
Acquired Myasthenia Gravis
Acquired myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder common in mature dogs such as German shepherds and Labrador retrievers. Symptoms include stiffness after exercise, tremors and all-over weakness. Sometimes the weakness subsides after rest. Frequent complications include regurgitation and aspiration pneumonia, caused by breathing in foreign material. Veterinarians usually prescribe anticholinesterase drugs. If the drugs do not work, they may prescribe corticosteroids. The prognosis is generally good with a possibility of remission.
Encephalitis is a disease of the central nervous system, which affects the brain and spinal cord. Causes are many including bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and a tick-transmitted disease. Dogs experience seizures, blindness, behavior changes and may circle at times. Imbalance, head tilt and tremors are additional symptoms, dependent upon which areas of the brain are affected. The abnormalities develop quickly, within a few days or weeks. Diagnosis is usually confirmed with a spinal tap. Possible treatments include antibiotics for infections, anticonvulsants for seizures and steroids for inflammation.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a gastrointestinal disorder where the intestines are irritated for long periods. It usually occurs in middle-age to older dogs and is seen more often in German shepherds, boxers, Rottweilers and the coated Wheaton terrier. Causes include allergies, parasites, bacteria and immune system diseases. Symptoms include loose stools, straining, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, lethargy and low-grade fevers. Non-invasive tests are blood panels, urinalysis, parasite testing and x-rays to rule out tumors. Treatment includes limiting food that may irritate the intestine lining and corticosteroids.
Demodectic mange is an inflammatory parasitic disease resulting from the infestation of the demodex mite found in the hair follicles. The mite doesn't directly cause the disease; it is the deficient immune system of the pup that causes the mite to multiply, resulting in skin irritation. The most common symptom is hair loss resulting in patches. Veterinarians do a skin scraping where the patches occur to determine the disease. Topical treatments include medicated dips. Younger dogs recover easier than older dogs. Relapse can occur in a six- to 12-month period.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.