Endocrine diseases: Though not as common as some of the other problems I deal with, they are no less important, as most of these problems will require treatment for life to control the problem (you may notice I did not say cure the problem). We see diabetes (most commonly too high of a blood sugar level that is treated with insulin). These dogs and cats are drinking more water than usual, urinating more than usual, probably eating more than usual, yet they are losing weight. In dogs we see hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. These dogs tend to be more lazy than you think they should be for their age and breed, and tend to weigh more than you think they should for the amount of food that they eat. They are very easily (and fairly inexpensively ) treated by you giving them thyroid tablets once or twice a day. In cats we see hyperthyroidism, where their thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. These cats are losing weight even though their appetite is greatly increased. We can treat those cats with radiation therapy, surgery, or chronic medical therapy. This is probably the most delicate surgery I do. We see dogs with overactive adrenal glands (Cushing’s disease) and underactive adrenal glands (Addison’s disease). These pets can be difficult to diagnose. Cushing’s disease can be difficult to treat, though we have a new drug that is making it easier. Addison’s disease is very easy to treat, but it does require life long treatment.
Autoimmune diseases: These are somewhat rare diseases in which your body decides to try to destroy parts of itself. Your body may decide to destroy it’s own red blood cells (IMHA, or immune-mediated hemolytic anemia), platelets (IMTP or immune-mediated thrombocytopaenia), skin (various types of lupus or pemphigus), joints, or other tissues. Some of these problems are fairly easy to control - others are much more difficult.