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What constitutes a chronic disease in my pet?
All pets will get sick from time to time, but if your cat or dog has the same illness for a long period of time or if it comes down with the same issues in a recurring manner, you should talk to your vet about whether it is a chronic illness. Chronic illnesses in pets usually require different treatments than normal diseases – therapies to help them live happily as opposed to treatments to heal the condition altogether.
One definition of chronic disease is a health condition that lasts three months or more. Another definition states that a chronic disease is one that can be controlled with pet drugs, but not cured completely. Either way, it is important to identify the chronic disease to determine the best treatment to help your pet maintain a high quality of life.
Your vet will most likely explain to you how your pet's chronic disease is different than an acute disease. An acute illness is one that occurs once, responds to treatment, and goes away. If that same illness recurs, your vet may start treating it like a chronic illness.
A urinary tract infection is one example. If your pet gets this, your vet will likely prescribe an antibiotic like Baytril to treat it. If the infection heals but then crops up again a number of times, your vet may recommend you keep your pet on a supplement like Cranberry Relief, which works to support a healthy urinary tract and immune system. The aim of pet products like this is to support the problem area to keep the chronic disease controlled.
Diabetes is another example. Like in humans, diabetes is a chronic illness for which there is currently no cure – just treatment. This chronic disease requires regular doses of insulin to keep the animal's body functioning properly.
Chronic disease like diabetes are not exactly preventable most of the time, but many acute diseases are. For instance, you can prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease or heartworm disease by keeping it on a flea, tick and mosquito preventative like Revolution or Sentinel. You might even want to give its immune system a boost by sprinkling a whole food supplement like Be Well for Dogs on its pet food.