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10 rare diseases that can affect our furry friends

Our dogs and cats can also suffer from rare diseases, and so on Rare Disease Day, we want to do our bit to raise awareness of these rare conditions.

Do you know why rare diseases are so called? These are diseases that affect a small number of people or animals compared to the population, i.e. they have a low incidence and prevalence. It is therefore important to have heard of them and to be aware of their symptoms. At MAIKAI PETS, we believe in education and prevention as pillars to guarantee a full and healthy life for our pets.

These are 10 rare diseases in dogs and cats

1. Manx syndrome in cats:

A genetic condition that mainly affects Manx cats, leading to problems in the spine and nervous system. Cats with this syndrome have a very short tail or no tail at all. Symptoms may include faecal incontinence, balance problems and problems with tail wagging. Unfortunately, medical treatments for Manx syndrome focus on relieving symptoms and preventing complications.

2. Cushing’s syndrome in dogs:

Excessive cortisol production can lead to symptoms such as increased thirst and hair loss. It is one of the most common endocrine diseases occurring mainly in middle-aged and older dogs, and is associated with excess cortisol production. In general, a dog with Cushing’s syndrome may have a life expectancy of approximately three years longer from the time the disease is detected. However, with proper care and tailor-made treatment, the dog’s life expectancy can reach normality and a much better quality of life.


3. Cardiac Hypertrophy in Cats:

It is a pathology of the heart in which the heart muscle thickens. It is the most common heart disease in cats. It is a pathology of the heart in which the heart muscle thickens.

If detected early, the veterinarian can slow its course with medication. It is particularly dangerous in cats in which it is undetected, as symptoms are very rare.


4. Hip dysplasia in dogs:

Dysplasia can occur in dogs at any stage of a dog’s life, but it is true that puppies are more prone to dysplasia than adults. It can cause pain and arthritis due to a malformed hip joint. Although some breeds and dogs have a genetic predisposition to develop it, we can maintain habits that help to prevent it.


5. Von Willebrand’s disease in dogs:

A genetic bleeding condition that affects blood clotting, similar to haemophilia in humans. Some of its symptoms are:

  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Haematomas

There is no cure for this medical condition, but it is manageable. However, it is very important that it is monitored by a veterinarian, as dogs with the disease are unable to take some medications that could worsen their condition.

6. Horner’s syndrome in dogs and cats:

A neurological condition that can cause ptosis (drooping eyelid), miosis (pupillary contraction) and enophthalmos (eyeball retraction).

There is currently no specific treatment for Horner’s syndrome, Therefore, the veterinarian, after a previous diagnosis, determines which medicines can offer the best results in each case. Prevention is also the best way to avoid the causes of this health alteration. Therefore, we must bear in mind the importance of consulting a vet in the event of any suspicious symptoms or strange behaviour.

7.Cerebellar Ataxia in Cats and Dogs:

A neurological disease affecting coordination and balance, often noted by a staggering or uncoordinated gait. Treatment of this condition will depend, in part, on the factors that cause it. In some cases, such as when they are born directly with it, no treatment is usually effective and the cat will have to live with it. However, ataxia that has been caused by an external factor, depending on its origin, can have an effective solution.


8. Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia in dogs:

Haemolytic anaemia is a rare condition that requires a lot of care. It can lead to death if not detected early and treated, so early identification and diagnosis is very important.. Some of the symptoms that can be observed in a dog suffering from haemolytic anaemia are:

  • Weakness, apathy and fatigue.
  • Resistance to physical activity or play.
  • Paleness (discolouration) of the gums and tongue.
  • Jaundice. The dog’s eyes and skin may turn yellowish, due to increased bilirubin levels.
  • Tachycardia.


9. Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs:

A genetic condition, similar to muscular dystrophy in humans, that leads to progressive degeneration of the muscles. This disease usually affects large breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Boxers, but can also occur in smaller breeds. Symptoms of muscular dystrophy in dogs usually appear early in the animal’s life, and once detected and diagnosed by the veterinarian, treatment consists of a combination of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medication, weight control and constant monitoring, among other things.


10. Acromelania in Cats:

A rare genetic disease in Siamese and related cats, characterised by excessive growth and stiffening of the limbs.

It is characterised by an excess secretion of growth hormone (GH) caused by a functional pituitary tumour. Definitive diagnosis is very complicated by the progressive onset of the disease, the variety of associated signs and the absence of specific laboratory diagnostic methods. The most significant symptom is the presence of insulin-resistant diabetes mellitus.



At MAIKAI PETS, our commitment is to the wellbeing of your pets. Knowing about these rare diseases and watching out for early signs are crucial steps to ensure the health and happiness of our dogs and cats. Let us remember that regular veterinary check-ups, together with a loving and caring environment, are essential for the life of our beloved pets.

In addition, we leave you information about the most common diseases for quick diagnosis: Cancer in dogs and cats and Diabetes in dogs and cats.