Dog Deficiency Disease
Negative as well as positive factors cause disease. Many pets have died from a lack of oxygen. There are obvious cases of suffocation; the carrying cage or shipping crate may be insufficiently ventilated, and when it is opened the pet is found dead. Lack of oxygen, obvious as it is, constitutes a deficiency disease. ‘Iliere are many more subtle deficiencies.
Some deficiencies produce what should be called conditions, not diseases. A disease is a morbid process with characteristic symptoms. Thirst is neither a disease nor the result of the disease. The symptoms of dehydration are cured by water consumption. Anemia is a disease in one sense, and a condition in another. Millions of humans go about in anemic conditions. In general, deficiency diseases are quite easily cured, simply by furnishing the body with missing nutritional elements.
Anemia. Anemia is a disease in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. When a dog suffocates, the pink color of the tissue turns blue. A lack of oxygen in the tissues can be produced by many causes other than lack of air. The blood may simply be unable to carry it about the body. This, in turn, may result from a diminished supply of red cells in the blood. There may be too few, or the chemical composition of their components may be inadequate.
Hookworms are the most common cause of an inadequate supply of red cells. Their blood consumption strains the blood-building equipment, which cannot keep up with the loss. A hookworm-infested animal lacks animation and gets out of breath easily. It shows all the symptoms of anemia, as though blood had been drawn from its arteries or veins. Little puppies are frequently found to be anemic because of a hookworm infestation. There is so little iron in milk that they cannot regain their losses despite deworming, and they frequently die because of their owner’s ignorance of this fact.
Heavy infestations of sucking lice may also cause anemia. Some dogs harbor so many lice that the parasites touch one another in places. The gums reveal a sickly pallor; it can’t stand cold and loses its appetite. The basic condition is probably aggravated by toxins from the liver. Animals are often seriously weakened by these parasites. Dogs have been known to die from lice infestation.
Blood diseases, rare in dogs, produce an altered blood picture. Some ordinary diseases alter the proportion of red and white cells, not by reducing the number of red cells but by increasing the number of white cells. This is not anemia. Diseases that produce toxins or attack the blood-building apparatus of the body produce anemia by reducing the number of red cells.
A lack of iron or copper or both causes anemia. Insufficient iron is responsible for a shortage of hemoglobin, and though there may be a full quota of red cells, they can’t pick up and transport oxygen. Copper deficiency also causes anemia. Copper is not part of hemoglobin but is concerned with its formation.
Niacin deficiency, which causes a black tongue; a shortage of vitamin B complex factors; and pyridoxine deficiency all cause anemia.
Rickets. Once a common problem, rickets are almost unheard of today due to the presence of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus in dog foods.
Eclampsia. Also called puerperal tetany, eclampsia is a disease of nursing mother dogs caused by an inadequate amount of calcium or inadequacy in the parathyroid glands.
Black Tongue. Black tongue is a disease almost unheard of when dogs eat commercial dog food or table scraps. A deficiency of niacin in the diet over many weeks is at least one of the causes. The dog develops a general loss of condition and muscular incoordination. It slobbers constantly from the mouth, and its breath is obnoxious. Its gums and tongue appear inflamed. Associated with the disease is a great proliferation of spirochetal bacteria, such as cause trench mouth. Injections of niacin (nicotinic acid) or the whole B complex will affect dramatic recovery. The term “black tongue” is misleading because that symptom is seen only in a dead dog. Soon after death the mouth, because of congestion in the tissues, turns deep purple.
Mineral Deficiencies. The only two minerals of great consequence to for dogs are calcium and iron, but nevertheless, the absence of others causes dire consequences. Iodine is essential. Its lack causes goiter in dogs, and when pregnant females are iodine-starved they may produce abnormal young called cretins. Common salt is also essential. Since 99 percent of the calcium in the body is found in the skeleton, obviously a calcium deficiency results in poor skeletal development, as in the case of rickets.
But calcium does more than develop bone. It is necessary for proper nerve function and acts almost like some vitamins as a catalyst or “marrying agent” between other minerals. Bad teeth may be traced to a fluorine deficiency. Cobalt and boron, though needed in minute quantities, produce sickness through their absence. Potassium deficiency causes paralysis, and so forth.
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