Even with all the love and care you give your dog, there are a few things that are inevitable when you share your life with your canine buddy. They eat things they shouldn’t, they don’t make great decisions without you, and they can’t tell you when they need to go to the hospital. There are obvious incidents, like sudden collapse or unstoppable bleeding, but there are more subtle things that occur that you might be on the fence about. As with most things, the earlier you can address them, the better for your furry buddy. Here’s a few red flags every dog owner should know:
1) If your dog is suddenly lethargic, quiet and not following you around when she usually does, then something is wrong. Dramatic changes in behavior are nothing to disregard. Dogs are great at masking pain, discomfort and illness. This is a biological instinct that enables them to evade being targeted as a weak pack member. Only the strong survive, and the same is true for those that can pretend to be healthy. When something changes in your dog’s behavior, there’s a real reason and your vet will help you discover what it is. This will likely involve a blood sample to check for hidden illness such as kidney, liver or heart disease, to name a few.
2) Vomiting is a sure sign that something is wrong. My dogs vomit on occasion and I don’t rush them to work immediately. Like people, sometimes dogs eat something that disagrees with them and you should be vigilant to look for other signs of illness, such as diarrhea, lethargy or pale gums. If vomiting persists, make a vet appointment. At the very least, your vet can give you medications to make the vomiting stop and let your dog be more comfortable.
3) Diarrhea is a dog body’s way of saying, “thanks, but no thanks”. Something she ate has passed through her system and has created anarchy. Also, there could be bacterial overgrowth, parasites, or something more serious. If your dog has more than a single bout of diarrhea, go see your vet. At the very least, your vet will give your poor dog some medicine to calm her gut and let her recover. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration quickly which can escalate into very serious health issues. Your carpet will thank me.
4) Cough can signal something contagious or something more serious. While most dogs cough occasionally, a sudden increase in coughing can signal illness. Cough can signal something minor, like kennel cough or allergies, or something more ominous like heart disease. Heartworm infection can also manifest via cough. To be sure of the root of the problem, go see your vet. You’ll walk away with antibiotics, or the diagnostic info to help your buddy live a better life. Most heart disease can be managed with medication, and heartworms can be cured with treatment.
5) Pale gums are a sure indicator that oxygen is not being exchanged properly. If your dog’s gums appear pale – very slight pink, or grayish in pallor – this is a medical emergency. Don’t hesitate at all in this situation. Checking your dog’s gums is a good way to start any overall health check. This is especially true if your dog’s gums are slightly (or very) pale and she is lethargic, panting, or otherwise acting unusually. In these cases, diagnostics need to be done by a vet as soon as possible. Pale gums are a symptom of any number of problems, but ultimately signify that your dog is anemic – meaning that her body’s not getting enough oxygen. Don’t hesitate even a minute. Go to your vet or an emergency clinic immediately.
With any luck, you have the perfect dog that never needs to see the vet for an unscheduled exam. But for the rest of us, I hope this helps. The earlier something is detected, the earlier it can be treated and the better chance you have of taking good care of your furry friend.
Bright and Happy Dog
Healthy dogs are bright and attentive! Be aware of any behavioral changes and act quickly. It’s never a bad idea to call your vet if you’re unsure if your dog is sick.
Don’t you wish your dog could tell you when she’s sick? There’s no chance your dog will put a blanket over her head like Arwen here. When in doubt, call or visit your vet.
Healthy dogs act predictably
Any changes in behavior should be closely monitored. A decrease in play, activity level or even willingness to be a part of the pack should be heeded as warnings. Call your vet for more advice.