Understanding Viruses In Pets


Our pets are like family. We spend time with them, talk to them, and often feed them just like people. Because we’re so close, we also want to do what’s best for their health at all times, so it’s worrisome when a pet falls ill.

Not only do we worry about a faithful friend’s suffering, we also struggle sometimes to know what’s wrong. After all, pets can’t communicate very much detail to us. We usually just know that our friend is not eating, has no energy, or is otherwise not acting right.

It’s before we reach this point that we need to understand what is behind these illnesses. It’s absolutely true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but an ounce of education is worth a lot of prevention itself. Here are the basics that any pet lover needs to know about their animals:

Treatment Of Illnesses

When we think of a pet as being sick, we are usually referring to an infection of some type. These conditions are caused by microscopic organisms that invade the body. These organisms are called pathogens, and they are usually one of two types: viruses or bacteria. The type of pathogen involved is important because it dictates what sort of care will be necessary.

In the case of bacteria, the normal treatment is some form of antibiotic. These drugs work with the body’s immune system to fight off the invader and return to normal. It’s important to work with your veterinarian to formulate a strategy to avoid antibiotic resistance, but otherwise, it’s a fairly simple process.

The greater battle is against viruses. These organisms invade cells and replicate themselves, causing symptoms that may be similar to a bacterial infection. Parvovirus is a well-known virus in dogs. When it strikes, you can only treat parvo symptoms by keeping your pet hydrated and isolated.

Prevention Of Illnesses

So let’s back up a step. While the world is full of all kinds of pathogens, there’s no guarantee that we have to catch them all. The same is true for our pets. There are two major ways to avoid infections of all kinds with your pet.

The first is vaccination. Countless illnesses can be prevented in your pets by simply staying on track with their shots. Parvovirus, coronavirus, rabies, and a number of potentially deadly conditions can be avoided if we just vaccinate.

But there are other steps we should take as well. Sanitation is critical. Pathogens live in all kinds of unclean areas, such as pet carriers, their sleeping quarters, and their litterbox or preferred waste area. Because so many diseases are transmitted in body waste, it’s very important to clean litterboxes frequently.

In addition, since many problems are contagious, we want to isolate our pets from other animals when they have signs of illness and to make sure we keep them away from other animals that may be sick.

Chronic Conditions

We would be remiss if we focused only on infectious conditions with our pets. While most illness does stem from exposure to a germ that leads to a sickness, other problems come from within.

Pets, like people, can develop diabetes. And just as with people, the condition can happen naturally, as with juvenile diabetes in humans, or due to environment, as with our adult-onset diabetes.

With juvenile diabetes, something in the body’s chemistry or the function of the pancreas just isn’t right. As a result, the body cannot properly break down sugar in the bloodstream. Much of it passes from the body through urine, often causing infections that can alert us to the problem.

In the case of adult-onset diabetes in pets, we can usually blame ourselves. While a dog or cat can be just as close as our human family, they can’t eat like them. Table food is not good for pets, as it usually contains too many carbohydrates. The process of breaking down sugars and starches in high doses for years can essentially wear out the pancreas, destroying its ability to function.

Just as with our human family, we need to be educated and proactive in protecting the health of pets. Vaccinations, sanitation, and proper care will all play a role.

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