Dogs are beloved family members in many households, providing companionship, love, and loyalty. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to look out for your pet’s health and well-being. Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us when they’re feeling under the weather. That’s why owners need to watch for signs of illness in their pets. Catching health issues early allows for quicker treatment and better outcomes.
Let’s discuss some of the most common indicators that your dog may be sick and in need of veterinary attention. Paying attention to changes in your dog’s behavior, appetite, bathroom habits, and activity levels can help you determine if a trip to the vet is warranted. Don’t ignore subtle signs – it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your furry friend’s health.
Lethargy and Lack of Appetite
One of the most noticeable signs of illness in dogs is lethargy or lack of energy. A normally active, playful dog that suddenly seems very mellow and wants to sleep all day could be under the weather. Additionally, a disinterest in food or treats is never a good sign. If your dog refuses to eat for more than a day or acts disinterested in mealtime, something could be wrong.
Unusual skin changes like sores, scabs, bald patches, or excessive scratching could point to skin infections, allergies, or parasites like fleas or mange. Dogs can’t stop themselves from obsessively licking, biting, and scratching irritated skin, which can cause further damage.
A vet visit can determine the cause and course of treatment, which may include antibiotics, anti-itch shampoos, or allergy medications. For some specific skin conditions, a tailored treatment might be necessary; look with the search words pet compounding pharmacy near me online to find pharmacists who can offer medications tailored to your dog’s dosage needs as told by your vet.
Excessive Thirst and Urination
Increased thirst and urination can indicate problems like diabetes, kidney disease, or a urinary tract infection. If your dog is drinking noticeably more water and asking to go outside more frequently, contact your vet. Excessive urination can lead to accidents around the house and dehydration. Checking for a fever, examining urine, and running tests can help diagnose the issue.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms of gastrointestinal issues like food poisoning, inflammatory bowel disease, parasites, or viral infections. While occasional vomiting isn’t necessarily serious, prolonged episodes of vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
If the vomiting or diarrhea persists for over 24 hours, contains blood, or is accompanied by a loss of appetite or lethargy, your dog needs medical attention.
Coughing and Sneezing
Coughing and sneezing can indicate respiratory troubles like kennel cough, allergies, or something more serious like pneumonia. Dogs with these symptoms may also have nasal discharge, breathing difficulties, or a loss of energy.
Coughing and sneezing that persists longer than a day or two warrants a trip to the vet for examination and testing.
Sudden weight loss or gain can indicate an underlying health problem in dogs. Obesity puts dogs at risk for many conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Rapid weight loss may signal diseases like cancer, kidney failure, or dental issues, making it painful to chew food. Track your dog’s weight regularly and monitor for significant gains or losses.
While “dog breath” is common, an unusually strong, foul odor could point to dental diseases like an infected tooth, gum disease, or abscesses. These very painful oral health issues make it difficult for dogs to eat and compromise their immune systems.
Schedule a veterinary dental exam if you notice foul breath along with signs like drooling, bleeding gums, or mouth pain.
Change in Behavior
A major change in your dog’s normal behavior can be a red flag. Anxiety, aggression, restlessness, irritability, or depression are potential indicators of sickness, especially when paired with other symptoms. Dogs in pain or discomfort may act out with whining, snapping, or destructive chewing. Neurological issues like dementia can also alter a dog’s behavior.
Limping and Lameness
Limping or lameness indicates injury or pain in your dog’s legs or paws. It can be caused by sprains, fractures, arthritis, or torn ligaments. Dogs try to rest injured limbs and may lick or bite at them.
Don’t ignore limping – it could worsen over time or lead to compensatory injuries in other legs. Have your vet examine the affected area and provide appropriate treatment to resolve the underlying issue.
Changes in Eye Appearance
Changes in your dog’s eyes could indicate health issues. Red, swollen, watery, crusty, or irritated eyes can point to allergies, eye infections, or tear duct problems. Cloudiness, increased bluish haze, or a difference in pupil size can signal glaucoma, cataracts, or cancer.
Schedule a veterinary ophthalmologist visit if you notice any eye abnormalities. If left untreated, some eye conditions can lead to blindness.
Weakness or Trouble Standing
Difficulty standing up, walking, or navigating stairs are all causes for concern. Your dog may appear weak or wobbly on their feet, stumble often, or be unable to jump up on furniture. This loss of strength or coordination can result from arthritis, nerve issues, injuries, or vestibular disease.
Falling, inability to stand, or head tilt warrant an urgent vet visit to diagnose the underlying cause.
Our dogs rely on us to notice when they aren’t feeling well. Learning your dog’s normal baseline behavior and habits makes it easier to recognize potential red flags. Contact your veterinarian promptly if you observe any of the signs discussed in this article. Early intervention can help diagnose and treat many canine illnesses before they progress.
While some symptoms may turn out to be temporary or non-threatening, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your beloved pup’s health and well-being. With attentive care and routine veterinary checkups, you can help ensure your dog lives a long, happy, and healthy life.