Pets at risk for "human"diseases - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Pets at risk for "human" diseases

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(07/09/13) - We love them like our own children, but we could be making our pets sick without even realizing it. Pets can get the same illnesses we do - and often, for the same reasons.

Every day, Gerry Eckstein takes her best friend, Hank, to the vet for treatment, "he was 49 pounds when he was diagnosed."

One of Hank's kidney's has failed and a giant mass, entangled in his adrenal gland, is believed to be cancer, "he's not really eating very much."

Gerry's vet gave hank two weeks to a month to live. That was nine months ago!

But Gerry's dedication to her 13-year-old companion has not come cheap, "I've spent almost $12,000. My children's inheritance, but he's worth it."

Fifty percent of dogs and 30 percent of cats, over age 10, will die from cancer. Other common diseases in pets include: arthritis, diabetes, and heart, kidney and dental disease.

One of the biggest reasons for pet health problems is obesity, says Dr. Rob Hess of Winter Park Veterinary Clinic, "obesity is a big issue in dogs and cats."

A recent survey found more than half of dogs and cats are considered overweight or obese by their veterinarian.

Hess says, even being 20 percent overweight is dangerous, "he'll live two and half years less, OK, and develop cancer twice as readily."

Mandy Welsheimer was shocked when her dog "Puppy" was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year. "Puppy" must take insulin twice a day for the rest of his life and follow a strict diet.

"Luckily, it's a manageable disease,"  Mandy says.

When considering treatment for your pet with cancer, cost is an important factor. While it ranges widely, the average for surgery is $2,000 to $3,000. Chemotherapy and radiation can also be up to $3,000.

One alternative for pet owners is to look for clinical trials. Many offer free treatment. There is also health insurance available for pets.

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