immagine L’insufficienza renale acuta: se i reni all’improvviso non funzionano più

Acute kidney failure: kidneys suddenly stop working

 Often, when it comes to older dogs and cats but also people, we hear about kidney problems.

The kidneys are much more important than you think, and their main job is to remove toxic substances from the blood and throw them away through urine.

If the kidneys stop working, the toxins remain in the blood, starting to damage organs and causing serious damages. This situation appears very slowly and gradually in elderly animals, there is however a variant in some ways more dangerous that appears suddenly: it is called acute renal failure.

The causes

There are many reasons why acute kidney failure can appear in a dog or cat. Some are easily avoidable, while others are more subtle. Fortunately, this situation can be solved, because the kidneys do not have a problem themselves, so once the cause that damages them is removed, they start working again, so a vet can completely heal this situation.

Some causes are called pre-renal, they depend on a phenomenon that occurs before the blood reaches the kidney.

One of the most frequent causes is a drop in blood pressure. If the pressure is low, the blood does not reach the kidney, which does not filter it, so in fact it does not work. There may be liver diseases, which can no longer detoxify the toxic substances ingested with food so that the kidney can expel them; even high fever, in some cases, causes kidney failure.

The owner usually sees these conditions because the symptoms are particularly noticeable.

Instead, we need to pay more attention to kidney causes, i.e. the presence of substances that are directly damaging the kidney. Some are infectious diseases such as Lehismania or Piroplasmosis, but others are poisonings: ethylene glycol is very dangerous. Human drugs given to the dog are also lethal. Finally, the ingestion of grapes, which has active ingredients that damage the kidney. These causes tend to depend on the mistakes of the owners, which is why we must be particularly careful.


Finally, there are the post-renal causes, which usually depend on the obstruction of the urinary tract. In short, stones. In this case, before the failure appears, other symptoms are seen, such as the animal, especially males, are very ill and expel urine in droplets from the pain caused by the stones. In this case, it is necessary to act as soon as possible to have them removed by a veterinarian.

How to recognize acute renal failure

Regardless of the causes, which we have reported above, it is really important for an owner is to recognize the symptoms. You can die with kidney failure if it is not treated and that is why if you recognize this situation you must intervene as soon as possible.

The first thing we notice is a state of general malaise. The animal does not move, refuses to eat, sleeps or in any case stands aside on its own; there may be fever, the nose is hot and dry.

Episodes of vomiting might appear, because the toxic substances that are not eliminated by the kidney remain in the blood, and when there are many they stimulate the gag reflex in the animal. They vomit stomach acids only if they haven't eaten anything for a while. There may be traces of blood in the vomit.

A very characteristic symptom, however, is anuria, the complete absence of urination. If you keep your dog indoors, think about how long it hasn't been going to the toilet. If it's been a long time, and he is not able to go to the toilet (if there are no kidney problems, even with a high fever he will pee the same), it could indicate the fact that urine is not present in the bladder at all and that it is not really produced, or that it fails to pass through.

We pay close attention to this detail if the dog or cat (from the litter box for cats) has not peed for more than seven to eight hours.

If the situation degenerates, then the tremors and convulsions begin, but at this point any responsible owner will have taken their pet to a veterinarian. However, when we reach this point there is not much to do, even for the vet.

For this reason, it is good to know how to recognize the symptoms to understand when it is appropriate to go to a clinic as soon as possible.

Knowing the causes allows us not to give dangerous food to the dog or drugs for human use. Knowing the symptoms allows us to solve as soon as possible a problem.


Stool analysis: what is it used for and how do we do it

Stool analysis: what is it used for and how do we do it

When we take our animals to the vet, it can happen quite often that we are are asked for a stool sample to be analyzed. What is the use of a stool test and how is a sample collected?

immagine La gastrite nel cane e nel gatto: ecco da cosa dipende e come riconoscerla

Gastritis in dogs and cats: how to recognize it

 The stomach is a very important organ in the digestive system of our pets. Both dogs and cats are in fact carnivores, so protein digestion (which takes place in the stomach) is much more important than fibre digestion (which takes place in the large intestine).

This causes gastritis, (inflammation of the stomach) in a dog or cat to be much more debilitating than it would be, for example, in a horse.

Apart from being painful, gastritis also leads to another fundamental problem, which is malnutrition. Since the food is not digested, even if the animal ingests it, it does not absorb it, and the result is the same as not eating at all.

Causes of gastritis

In order to digest food, the stomach, produces an acid, which we know as gastric juice. Ours produces a certain quantity while that of domestic animals much more, in proportion to us. The chemical formula of the juice is HCl, or Hydrochloric Acid, what we all have at home, diluted, as Muriatic Acid.

When things work well, the stomach produces acid by taking its starting components from the blood vessels. The acid not only digests the contents of the stomach, but also the stomach itself: fortunately, there is a regeneration mechanism that continuously recreates the internal mucosa of the stomach. Within 24 hours, the gastric mucosa (consumed on one side and recreated on the other) is completely new.

The problem of gastritis occurs when this mechanism stops working: if, for some reason, too much acid is produced or if the regeneration is not effective, the corrosion of the stomach overcomes the regeneration, which affects the deeper layers where there are blood vessels and nerves, causing severe pain as well as damage.

Gastritis may be due primarily to problems with the food:  rotten, toxic (for example an inedible mushroom) or indigestible material such as plastic. In this case, the pain will last as long as the food remains in the stomach, and is then generally expelled through vomiting, the stomach's defense mechanism.

There are also microorganisms that can cause gastritis as a primary effect; most bacteria and viruses are digested, just like meat, but some manage to resist and cause damage to the stomach wall, so that it becomes inflamed. Regeneration fails and we come across gastritis. In this case, solving it is more complex because it requires the intervention of a veterinarian to carry out a therapy with antibiotics suitable for killing these pathogenic microorganisms.

Drug abuse is another possibility that can lead to gastritis. Medicines, especially anti-inflammatories that we and our pets take when we have pain of any kind, ruin the stomach wall because they stimulate acid secretions. If the animal takes too many or if it takes human drugs (always ask the veterinarian for advice before giving one of our medicines to our dog or cat) this mechanism could be triggered which could cause gastritis. Clearly, it is important not to keep giving these medicines to our four-legged friend, because we would increase its pain.

The most serious situations of gastritis occur when there are other concomitant and difficult diseases to treat: among these, renal failure, liver failure and some types of tumours. In this case, gastritis is not a primary problem, but one of the many consequences of these situations: they clearly need to be resolved, but gastritis can be a wake-up call to understand that such problems exist, and report them to our veterinarian.

How to notice gastritis

How is gastritis detected? The main symptom is vomiting, possibly with the presence of some blood. Let's always look at it before cleaning it.

He does not play, moves little, does not eat, and if the pain is so much he could put himself in a particular position, called "Muslim prayer" (which recalls the particular posture in which Muslims pose when they pray): front legs forward, head close to the floor and rear raised.

dog pancreatitis

If we have any doubts, we can lightly massage the animal's belly: if it has pain, it will tend to "close up like a hedgehog" and in some cases, it will try to scratch and bite us.

If this situation continues over time, it is good to take him for a visit, which will certainly help him. He feels a lot of pain.


immagine La leishmaniosi del cane: come prevenirla

Dog's leishmaniasis: how to prevent it

 Leishmaniasis is probably one of the most well known diseases in dogs. The information we often hear is a bit mixed up. For example, we often hear about the vaccine, or that mosquitoes pass it, but that's not true. It is also said to be a bacterium, and it is not.

So let's go to dispel some myths, and try to understand the functioning of one of the most complex and difficult diseases to treat in animals.

What it is and how it is transmitted

When it comes to Leishmania, it is already difficult to try to explain what it is.

Among the eukaryotic organisms (those who eat in order to have energy) we find five kingdoms: Animals, Plants, Fungi, Bacteria and Protists. You will probably know some organisms such as the first four kingdoms, but none of the last. The Leishmania is a protist. We can see it as a middle ground between a bacterium and a very, very simple animal.

It is a microorganism visible only under a microscope, which is injected into the blood of the dog or cat (also in humans, but does very little damage) by an insect.

The insect is a phlebotomist, which is smaller than a mosquito, similar to a gnat.

If this insect bites an infected dog, the dog will become infected as well. Leishmania has two forms: one mobile and one immobile. In the dog's organism there is the second one, the immobile one, which once it reaches the phlebotomist's intestine becomes mobile. It goes up, reaches the proboscis (the sting, in short), and is injected into the blood where, having the possibility to move, multiplies and spreads throughout the body, and then becomes immobile again.


What does it do

If you have had trouble understanding what Leishmania is, understanding why it causes the disease is even more complex. Bacteria generally "eat" into the dog's body at its expense. Leishmania does not.

As soon as the parasite has entered the body, it is "eaten" by the white blood cells, which try to digest it in order to destroy it. Unfortunately, he manages to survive this digestion and multiplies.

The organism therefore tries to fight it through antibodies; particular proteins, which once attached to a pathogenic organism, make the white blood cells “eaters” (macrophages) understand that they must eat that organism. But, as we have already said, they cannot digest it and destroy it.

The antibodies attached to a part of the Leishmania start spinning freely in the organism, then deposit themselves in particular points. For example in the eye and cause problems with sight, in the skin and give desquamation (the typical leishmania dandruff), in the joints, and cause problems when the dog or cat walk. However, they also deposit around the blood vessels, veins and arteries, whose walls are damaged causing very small but widespread blood loss.

Eventually they settle in the kidney, giving rise to kidney failure, which is one of the worst consequences of the disease.

All of this leads to a state of severe dejection, fever, movement problems and even worse consequences over time. However, this whole process is characterized by being very slow.

In some cases, among other things, only some of these symptoms occur, not all: we must be very careful and if we see any of the signs described above, take the dog or cat to a vet, who will look for a solution to the problem.

How is it treated and how Is it prevented

Lehismania is very difficult to cure. It is resistant in the animal's body, so the drugs do not work optimally; the therapy is symptomatic, therefore drugs are given that allow to solve the symptoms that the disease causes one by one.

However, the parasite is never eliminated, and remains in the organism for life, so any concomitant disease would risk a relapse, among other things always worse than the previous episode.

As for prevention, there are some vaccines against Leishmania, but their effectiveness is still rather doubtful, and they dont always work.

The main solution should be prevention at the root, i.e. avoiding the phlebotomist sting. We can do this by avoiding very humid places rich in mosquitoes (therefore also sand flies) and providing our dog with repellent collars or special products to be distributed on the back to avoid the approach of the insect and everything that follows.

By avoiding the sting, we will safeguard the health of our dog and avoid the transmission of the disease to other animals.


image Mastitis in dogs and cats: what is it and how to cure it

Mastitis in dogs and cats: what is it and how to treat it

Mastitis is defined as an inflammation of the breasts. For obvious reasons, it affects only females and in the case of pregnancy or phantom pregnancy.

immagine La Toxoplasmosi del gatto: cos’è e qual è il pericolo per le donne in gravidanza

The cats Toxoplasmosis: what is it and what are the risks for pregnant women

 If you have a cat, you may have never heard of toxoplasmosis, even if it is a characteristic disease of the cat. If, on the other hand, you are a woman, and more precisely are a mother, you have probably heard of toxoplasmosis even if you don't have a cat.

In fact, it is a somewhat particular disease, because it does not give the cat any problems but it is very dangerous for pregnant women, because it can lead to one of the worst consequences: abortion.

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease. It is caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which has its "definitive host" in the cat: therefore, it can reproduce and lay its eggs only in the cat's intestine.

However, in our four-legged friend it does not give rise to any symptoms: despite living in his intestine, there is no diarrhoea, no fever, no lack of appetite ... In short, nothing at all. For this reason it is impossible to know if our cat is sick with toxoplasmosis or not, and we must always behave as if it were sick, to keep our baby and ourselves safe. Humans manifest the disease only, not cats.

In reality, as long as we are men or women who are not pregnant, it does not matter: in fact, toxoplasma will only give these people a little diarrhoea for a couple of days, which in any case is an annoying situation that is worthwhile avoiding.

The toxoplasma specimens that we ingested (we will see how in the following paragraph) will then be expelled with the feces and will return to the environment; if ingested by a cat, they will reproduce again and the cycle will begin again.

How is toxoplasmosis transmitted and avoided?

Toxoplasmosis is transmitted in one way only: with feces. With that being said, it might seem a bit disgusting, but it is a completely plausible mechanism.

The cat, in fact, lays its own feces that contain the "eggs" of toxoplasma. By the time the cat poops, these eggs are still immature, and cannot infect anyone; it takes about 24 hours for the eggs to mature, after that time the poop will have already dried out. Someone could step on it, especially if it was laid outdoors, and crumble it so that a person can breathe in the toxoplasma eggs, which are nothing more than specks of dust for us. This is how we can get infected.

The wind, however, could also carry these eggs onto a salad leaf, which we can eat; or on the grass, where our dog (not cat!) could roll and then shake, spreading the eggs in the air within reach of human breathing.


As we can see, the possibilities of contracting toxoplasmosis are many and it is impossible to predict them all. Doctors help pregnant women by handing over a list of foods to avoid as it is possible that eggs might have survived on them; often one of the tips is to get rid of the cat to avoid problems, but this is not true. Our cat can cuddle with us for the entire duration of pregnancy without any problems.

First of all, cats can transmit toxoplasmosis through their feces, not their fur. We can caress it and keep it on us as we see fit.

Second of all, as we said earlier, the eggs become mature after 24 hours, and when the poop is fresh it does not turn into dust we are able to breathe. The cat usually defecates in the litter box, and it is sufficient to clean it before 24 hours from the laying. If we clean it four times a day (morning, lunch time, late afternoon and after dinner) we can rest assured that the eggs will never be ready to be infectious. If we close them in a sealed garbage bag, and throw it in the bin, no one will get infected with our cat's feces. If we don't feel safe cleaning the litter box, let's have someone else do it, like our husband or a friend.

As we said before, despite the cat being the "source" of this disease which can also become very serious, following both the advice of doctors and those we have said now on the management of the cat feces, we will be able to live a peaceful and serene pregnancy without the constant fear of toxoplasmosis.