It is important to grasp the patterns in the causes of death of our four-legged friends, both cat and dogs. These patterns may vary depending on the breed, age, and quality of life given (neutering, nutrition, vaccination, indoor/outdoor lifestyle, and others). However, acknowledging common problems will give you an idea of how to care for your furry buddy in ways that would minimise, prevent or delay such illnesses.
What are the top causes of mortality in dogs?
Abnormal behaviour and road accidents
Research shows that crossbred canines have a longer lifespan in comparison to the purebred variety. However, crossbreeds are more likely to suffer death from undesirable behaviours including aggression and road accidents for those with poor recall training or stray ones.
The Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust Steve Dean states, “This new paper sheds light on the extent of the situation where dogs end up losing their lives because of undesirable behaviours. All of these can be addressed through adequate socialisation and training.”
They further encourage dog owners to participate in a reputable class to address behavioural problems. Getting one’s pooch from a reputable breeder also helps a lot.
Gastrointestinal or GI disorders are usually the cause of death in young dogs. It mainly affects the stomach and intestine that leads to several medical issues. Another research reveals that there is a significant chance of gastrointestinal cause of death amongst Great Danes, Weimaraners, Gordon Setters, and Akitas.
Here are the different forms of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders:
- Acute gastroenteritis
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Small intestinal malabsorption
Further, dog owners must understand the vital role of nutrition in a dog’s life. It brings a significant impact on his GI tract health condition. Affected dogs are usually advised to take a highly digestible diet to prevent irritation to his now sensitive stomach and intestines. Proper hydration also helps during the recovery period.
Neoplastic diseases (neoplasia, tumour, and cancer)
Neoplasia refers to the many types of abnormal growths in the body which can be benign or malignant (cancerous). This occurs with the manifestation of growing abnormal cells. As soon as the cells start to behave abnormally and abnormal tissues form this is called neoplasms. Although there are breeds that are genetically disposed to cancer, older canines are at a greater risk than the young ones.
There are certain things you can do to help pets afflicted with this disease such as proper nutrition, early spaying or neutering, and the avoidance of exposure to stimulants that causes chronic irritation. It is best not to miss any scheduled check-ups as early detection and treatments significantly reduce the chances of death from cancer.
Musculoskeletal and neurological diseases
Conditions affecting the dog’s bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles are called musculoskeletal diseases. The most common conditions are arthritis, hip dysplasia, OCD, and patellar luxation. As for the neurological diseases, this mainly affects the nervous system and the brain that can lead to seizures, tremors, blindness and others. This further affects their ability to move depending on the severity of the case. Breeds that are likely to get affected include Retrievers, Hounds, Poodles, Dachshunds and the large variety.
Treatment varies on the specific disorder. You can ask a prescription on his diet and supplements to relieve pain. Severe cases are usually required to undergo surgical procedures.
What are the top causes of mortality in cats?
Free-roaming felines are likely to acquire severe/non-severe injury from a moving vehicle such as a truck, car, train, and the like. This is called an automobile injury or trauma which is the leading cause of deaths in cats, especially the younger ones. This also includes injuries from animal attacks or falling from a height.
These cat patients are usually recommended to observe exercise restriction and stay in an enclosed area to heal fractures. Treatments all depend on the severity of the situation. Just remember that the absence of external wounds after trauma does not mean that your pet cat is safe. It is best to always check with your vet for affirmation of her condition.
Renal disorders or kidney failures are the leading causes of deaths in older felines. In fact, about 13.6% of deaths are caused by renal disorders. It is said that symptoms are severe and is considered incurable and fatal.
The best thing an owner can do is to be strict in following regular health checks for chances of early detection and higher chances of optimising its management. As Doctor Patty Khuly, a Miami veterinarian, once said, “it’s the attitude of the owner” that matters on how much he/she is willing to fight. The sad thing about this is that the more it progresses to higher stages, it usually requires frequent medications and daily injections.
Just like in dogs, neoplasia in cats refers to the abnormal growth of cells in the body which can be benign or malignant (cancerous). Research shows that non-specific illnesses are one of the causes. Some presumed that this may have something to do with non-specific masses or those with an undiagnosed neoplastic disorder. Neoplasia poses a serious threat causing a quarter of deaths in felines.
Routine veterinary check-ups significantly make a difference. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chances there are in prolonging her life.
Awareness is the first step towards addressing these issues in order for our four-legged friends to enjoy a healthier life.