Animal welfare and wellbeing has become increasingly important in recent times and is a major social issue in developed countries.
“For the past 10,000 years, people all over the world have domesticated animals for various purposes. Some animals such as dogs and cats were domesticated as pets to provide company to humans. Livestock animals such as cattle and sheep were kept to provide products such as meat, wool or milk, or kept as working animals. No matter what the reason, animals and humans have been connected over an extended period of time.
Optimum health is essential to the wellbeing and longevity of all animals. It is the responsibility animal owners to ensure the welfare of the animals within their care. As part of the general care of animals, we need to be able to identify diseases. The first step in recognising diseases in animals is to understand when an animal is unwell. This generally requires three things: information on the history of the animal, a physical examination and specialized testing to identify the cause of the illness.”
Understanding Animal Health Issues
Preventing Disease and Injury
Inspecting for Health
Some Common Illnesses in Animals
This e-book provides an alphabetical guide for some common illnesses found in a range of domestic and agricultural animals.
An excerpt from the book:
“Animals can encounter various health problems including the following.
Viral Diseases – A virus is a parasite that must infect a living cell to reproduce. A virus is defined as any of various simple sub-microscopic parasites of plants,
animals, and bacteria that often cause disease and that consist essentially of a core of RNA or DNA surrounded by a protein coat. They are unable to replicate
without a host cell and are typically not considered living organisms.
Bacterial Diseases – Bacteria commonly enter a host’s body by invading a break (i.e. wound) in the skin, a membrane or wall. Often this “break” must occur in a specific part of an organ, for a particular type of bacteria e.g. Diphtheria can only enter through the tonsils, while pneumonia can only invade through the walls of the respiratory tract. Once inside a host, bacteria have to resist the defense mechanisms of the host. If the bacteria manage to overcome this system, they will then set about spreading infection by growing rapidly in the immediate tissues, blood or lymphatic fluid.
Bacteria cause injury in tissue by producing toxins or poisons. Some toxins are secreted into tissue while the bacteria lives (eg. tetanus), while others are only released when the bacteria dies or breaks up. Many bacterial diseases show an incubation period. This means that some time may elapse before the symptoms of the disease develops. Not all hosts show the same susceptibility to diseases.
Fungal Diseases – Fungal diseases are called mycoses. Veterinary medical mycology deals with fungal disease in both invertebrate and vertebrate animals. Fungal disease agents are widespread and can be isolated from a wide range of animals, from the soil and the environment. When fungi are suspected to cause animal disease, it is important to have criteria to distinguish infection, colonisation and contamination in order to reach a diagnosis. Some fungi are restricted to specific animals and others are found on a range of different animals. When making a diagnosis it is important to distinguish whether a fungus is actually the causal organism, or whether in is only a secondary factor.
Genetic Disorders – A genetic disorder is an illness caused by abnormalities in animal’s genome. Genetic disorders caused either by a different form of a gene called a “variation”, or an alteration of a gene called a mutation. Mutations may occur randomly or as a result of environmental exposure. Other genetic disorders are inherited.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disease – These are conditions that are caused by a disturbance of normal metabolic functions. These disturbances can be caused by genetic drift, inadequate or incorrect nutrition and impaired nutrition utilisation. Metabolic diseases are any that disrupt normal metabolism (the process of converting food to energy within the cells). Nutritional diseases are nutritionally-based. Good nutrition supports a healthy immune system to ward off infectious
diseases. Proper nutritional balances help keep the animal healthy. Nutritional imbalances may make the animal more prone to disease.”