Just like their owners, dogs can become ill with anything from a minor virus to something more dangerous with serious complications. Since your pet cannot tell you what’s wrong, you should keep an eye out for certain symptoms. Always consult with your veterinarian if you ever suspect your dog may be ill.
Evaluating Your Dog’s Appearance
1. Watch for excessive drooling or bad breath.
Excessive drooling or bad breath can be signs that your dog might need some teeth extracted. In order to prevent many dental problems, try to train your dog so that he allows you to brush his teeth. Look for the following symptoms in your dog that might indicate a dental problem:
– Watch to see if your dog is eating less.
– Notice if your dog is sensitive to you touching his muzzle.
– You may also visibly notice your dog having trouble chewing.
2. Listen for excessive coughing or honking.
If your dog is coughing, it might not be a reason to worry. However, coughing that lasts for any longer than a twenty-four hour period might be something more serious. Get any severe coughing in your dog checked out by your veterinarian.
– Coughing problems can disrupt your dog’s sleep.
– Coughing in a dog can be a sign of anything from minor bronchitis to heart worms, have a professional examine your dog.
3. Pay attention to changes in your dog’s behavior.
Just as humans may act differently when they don’t feel well, you may notice changes in your dog’s behavior if it’s not feeling well.
– Changes may include, but are not limited to, increase or decrease in appetite or thirst, hyperactivity or noticeably lowered energy levels.
– If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior, visit your veterinarian.
– If the irritation seems to relate to petting a specific spot, take note, it may be where your dog is injured or sick.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Sick
When you stare deeply into your beloved pet’s eyes, it may seem almost as if he or she could talk. Of course dogs can’t talk, but their body language can be very eloquent. The better you know your dog—his or her habits, appearance, and behavior—the more apparent these signs will be. Acting promptly at the first signs of illness can help prevent suffering, save money, and even save a life.
The following are common ways in which dogs tell us they’re sick. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Please note that these symptoms are more worrisome in a very young, very old, or otherwise frail dog, since they have fewer defenses when illness strikes. If your dog’s behavior or appearance worries you, always consult your vet.
You know your dog best. And if your dog behaves strangely, he is probably telling you something. Here are some indications that your best friend may be sick as a dog:
– Needy or clingy behavior
Every dog vomits and has diarrhea now and then—whether it’s from too many table treats or unmentionables scavenged off the sidewalk. When your dog has these symptoms, especially in combination with lethargy and poor appetite, be sure to contact your veterinarian:
– Repeated vomiting that lasts over 24 hours.
– Repeated or profuse diarrhea that lasts over 24 hours
– Abdominal pain or swelling
– Bloody diarrhea
– Loss of appetite
– Repeated dry heaves, restlessness, and distended belly may be a sign of “bloat,” a life threatening condition more typical in large breed dogs. Seek emergency treatment immediately.
Fever often accompanies illness. Conventional wisdom states that a healthy dog should have a cold, wet nose. and that a warm, dry nose means trouble. This is a common misconception. The appearance or feel of a dog’s nose is a poor indicator of health or body temperature. Taking your dog’s temperature with a thermometer is the only real way to diagnose a fever (see box, below). If your dog is acting sick and has a temperature above 103 F, it’s time to call the vet.
Note that a body temperature above 104.5 F is consistent with heat stroke and is a life threatening emergency. Institute cooling measures and seek veterinary care immediately.