10 Common Disorders This Vet Most Dreads

Vet treating dog

They're either tough to diagnose, expensive to treat, fraught with complications and side effects or just plain baffling — and just about every veterinarian I know dreads them.

I'm talking about 10 diseases that can be a veterinarian's worst nightmare!

Addison's Disease

This is probably on every veterinarian’s top 10 list of tough-to-spot diseases.

The labwork tends to tell you most of what you need to know. In addition to the fact that sodium and potassium levels can be way out of whack, there’s a specific test that can confirm Addison's disease, which affects the adrenal glands in dogs.

But the disease offers such nonspecific symptoms — weakness, vomiting and diarrhea, for example — that many dogs go without adequate treatment, and some can even collapse and die if the adrenal glands aren't secreting the right levels of hormones.

Luckily, it’s highly treatable!

Cushing's Disease

This disease is like Addison’s — in reverse. Cushing's disease manifests as an overabundance of canine adrenal hormones.

It’s generally easier than Addison’s to spot — common signs include increased thirst and urination, a potbelly and skin troubles in most cases — but this one can be a real pain to treat. That’s because most dogs can only be managed with side effect-laden drugs, which is why this disorder tends to rank high on our list of unlikables.

Allergic Skin Disease

In South Florida, allergic skin disease is, by far, the most common dermatologic disorder I encounter in both dogs and cats.

But its prevalence isn't what makes it such a disliked disease — obnoxious effects are more the issue, including itching, redness, hair loss, crusting, ear infections and weeping sores. There's also all the explaining, educating, convincing, cajoling and hand holding it takes to get pet owners to properly understand the disease’s complex ins and outs.

Noise Phobias

For some dogs and their owners, there’s almost nothing worse than the extreme stress associated with serious thunderstorm phobia, but noise phobias come in a close second. Some dogs are so severely affected that veterinarians have no option but to medicate them.

Elimination Disorders

This is arguably one of the most entertaining medical euphemisms in the veterinary lexicon. What "elimination disorder" means is that your pet is urinating and/or defecating in the wrong spots, which is definitely not entertaining for you — or your veterinarian.

Vets hate this disorder because we know how frustrating it can be to live with one of these patients, but also because there’s a challenging list of underlying problems we have to consider as we work toward a solution. The fact that so many of them are tough-to-treat behavioral issues makes this problem all the more annoying.


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