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Managing Chronic Disease
In a perfect world, all diseases could be cured by a single dose of a medication or one course of antibiotics. While sometimes this is possible, most diseases require multiple treatments and many require long-term management, sometimes for the rest of your pet’s life. Medical conditions that cannot necessarily be “cured” are called “Chronic Diseases.” Some of the most common Chronic Diseases in animals include:
- Arthritis and other orthopedic conditions
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Hepatitis and other liver diseases
- Skin allergies (atopy)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cushing’s and Addison’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Hyperthyroidism (cats) and hypothyroidism (dogs)
With these conditions, multiple rechecks appointments with your veterinarian are needed to make sure that your pet is receiving the appropriate treatments. Over time, your pet may need more, less, or different medications to help them feel their best. Lab work may also need to be rechecked more often than an otherwise healthy pet since these conditions and their treatment can affect other organs in your pet’s body. By having recheck appointments and lab work performed, your veterinarian can make sure that your pet is receiving optimal care.
There are multiple things that you and your veterinarian may discuss once your pet is diagnosed with a Chronic Disease, such as:
- Creating realistic expectations for the long-term management of their condition
- If the disease is progressive or will remain stable with treatment
- Signs that their condition is getting worse
- Creating a plan for how often rechecks are needed
- Decreasing any negative side effects from the medications (such as increased appetite and thirst with steroids)
- Increasing your pet’s quality of life
Overall, it is important to realize with Chronic Diseases that there is no single simple cure, and that management of their condition will require long-term treatment and recheck visits with your veterinarian. But by getting your pet the appropriate care, they can still live a comfortable and happy life for as long as is possible even with their disease.