What is an immune mediated disease?
First of all, an Immune Mediated disease and an Auto-Immune disease are the same thing and the terms can used interchangeably. These diseases are ones in which the body is attacking its own cells. Instead of the immune system only attacking foreign invaders to keep the body healthy, somehow a malfunction occurred and the body labeled its own cells as being bad and is killing them.
We don't fully know what causes the body to attack itself, but some of the theories being tested currently include:
Immune mediated diseases can be extremely frustrating to determine if they are a primary or secondary immune reaction, but it is crucial for prognosis (long term outcome) of the pet. Unfortunately, diagnosing primary immune disease is a diagnosis of rule outs. What this means is the veterinarian must test for, and rule out, all the other causes that can set off the immune system. We'll cover this is in a different post.
What is the liver?
The liver is a wedge-shaped brownish colored organ that sits in the cranial (toward the head) part of the abdomen tucked between the diaphragm and the stomach. The liver is an organ within the gastrointestinal system. It plays a vital role in the well being of every animal, and human for that matter. The medical terminology for the study of the liver is “hepatopathy.”
Due to its central location, the liver has a chance to filter out toxins absorbed from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in the blood, prior to the blood circulating in the body. This filtration is vital in keeping your pet healthy! But filtration is only one of its significant roles.
The liver is where glucose is stored, as well as other essential minerals and vitamins. The liver is responsible for the synthesis (creation) of albumin, which is a protein responsible for keeping the fluid at appropriate levels within your pets’ body! The liver is also responsible for the body's ability to clot. If there is a deficit of clotting factors that the liver produces, your pet may develop bruises or suffer from prolonged bleeding or excessive bleeding.
Check out the video below to see how the liver works:
As you can see, the liver is responsible for many important roles within the body! Unfortunately, since the liver is centrally located, it can quickly become overwhelmed by invaders and get sick easily. We will discuss what happens when the liver becomes sick in a future post.
Ashley DiPrete, RVT, VTS (SAIM) is a Registered Veterinary Technician practicing in California and obtained her Veterinary Technician Specialty in Small Animal Internal Medicine in 2016. She is the co-founder and a contributing author for InternalMedicineForPetParents.com.
What are the kidneys?
The kidneys are a pair of organs within the abdominal cavity and are the start of the urinary tract. The medical term for referring to the kidneys is renal. Their main jobs include filtering blood, reabsorbing essential nutrients, helping maintain blood pressure, and producing certain hormones.
The kidneys filter blood and excrete toxins to be urinated out of the body. Inside the kidneys there are millions of tiny filtration structures called nephrons. The blood must pass through the first section of the nephron called the glomerulus. Here the blood's liquid portion, the plasma, separates and crosses over a barrier from the glomerulus and is collected in the Bowman's Capsule. This liquid is called ultrafiltrate (it will soon turn into urine).
It's time for specialty care:
Your pet's medical care may be more complicated than your primary veterinary feels comfortable managing. Or maybe, things just aren't getting better and you want a second opinion.
Either way, you've found yourself headed to a consultation with a specialist. What can you expect?
First of all, the beginning of the appointment will probably feel very similar to what you're used to at your primary vet. There's probably some differences like the practice is in a large university setting, or a 24/7 hospital. Either way, your going to speak to a staff member (most likely a vet tech) who gets a detailed history about your pet's history. Be prepared for this to be in depth, we're making sure we have as much information as possible to create the most complete picture of your pets health. Don't be offended if we ask basic questions, we want get it right for your pet. Check out the article about good things to bring with you to every appointment by clicking the link here.
The specialist will offer diagnostics or treatments that may not be available at your primary vet (pDVM). The specialist will work closely with you and your pDVM to provide care with the goal for your pet to transition back to your pDVM for continued care once the immediate disease process is either treated or under control.
What is a Specialty Veterinarian?
This website is NOT a substitute for veterinary care with a veterinarian. We recommend you follow the advice and treatment plan as prescribed by your veterinarian, and only after discussing anything found on this website with your veterinarian, with their approval, implementing advice found here.
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