When we get sick or don’t feel well we have a wide range of options that we can utilize in order to get relief from what ails us. In the worst case, we simply go see a doctor or urgent care for help. Our four-legged friends aren’t so lucky. You see they rely totally on us. Our ability to visually assess and diagnose potential issues with our pets is vital to how a potential problem plays out. Dogs can’t tell us that they are hurt or sick. Being vigilant as an owner to changes in your pet’s behavior is of utmost importance. Below are a list of seven signs to look out for. The symptoms can be mild and related to simple indigestion or it could mean far worse. However, it is best to recognize them and react accordingly as early as possible to prevent harm to your pet.
Restlessness and pacing
Dogs cannot talk to us to tell us that they’re experiencing pain or discomfort. Often times they will pace back and forth or appear very restless. This kind of behavior can indicate anything from bloat (a condition large and deep chested dogs are prone to) to pain caused by any number of problems. The important thing to keep in mind is to pay close attention to your pet. Are they exhibiting any other tell-tale symptoms of a bigger problem? Are they favoring a joint or limb? Is their abdomen distended? These symptoms are often indicative of a larger problem.
Loss of appetite and loss of body weight
If you are the one who feeds your dog every day you have a pretty good idea of how much they eat and how they normally eat. Dogs are generally not ones to decide to skip a meal to help them drop that last couple of pounds to get into those skinny jeans. If your pet develops anorexia (the term used to describe a situation in which your pet doesn’t want to or cannot eat) you should pay especially close attention. Regardless of the cause refusal or inability to eat can have lasting and serious impacts on your pet’s health if it lasts for more than 24 hours. Puppies and young dogs are especially vulnerable to these problems.
Further, weight loss in your pet is another physical condition to be wary of. While gradual weight change over time isn’t necessarily a sign of a problem any drastic or even rapid changes are unusual and should be viewed with suspicion. The change could be as simple as an indicator that your dog is expending far more calories than he is taking in. Periods of conditioning or other performance such as hunting can greatly increase the amount of calories your hunting buddy needs to keep up. However, there are often other more sinister causes at fault. If your pet’s weight loss is less than ten percent of his body weight he could be losing mass amounts of fluids. Check your pet for signs of dehydration (lethargy, pale colored mucus membranes, etc.) You can also take a peek at his stool. Have they changed in size, color, or texture? It is possible your pet has a condition causing them to excrete nutrients before the digestive tract has time to absorb all it needs. Generally if your dog’s weight loss is ten percent or more of his body weight you should get them to the vet ASAP.
Dogs that attempt to vomit but cannot bring anything up are experiencing a common symptom of bloat. Check your pet for a distended or enlarged abdomen. This behavior doesn’t have to be immediately after eating either. Bloat can occur for hours after a dog has eaten. Large breed dogs, especially deep chested breeds are prone to this condition. If you see your pet doing this you need to keep a careful eye on them. There are other causes such as ingestion of objects that are causing extreme indigestion and/or toxicity. In any case a trip to the vet might not be a bad idea.
Pale/Yellow mucus membranes
If you notice your pet has a distinct yellowing of their gums and/or their skin they are experiencing what is known as jaundice. Also referred to as icterus occurs when the body develops elevated levels of bilirubin. This substance is produced when red blood cells break down for a variety of reasons. Any level of jaundice is serious in people or dogs.
Another color change you might notice a distinct paleness in your dog’s mucus membranes or gums chances are your pet is experiencing a loss of blood, lack of blood flow, or shock. This can be indicative of a number of conditions; all of them serious. If you notice this condition seek assistance immediately.
Do you ever have days when you just don’t feel like doing anything? That is the basic description of lethargy. When your pet seems drowsy, inactive, or indifferent to stimuli something is off. Lethargy is a very general symptom that is often accompanied by other symptoms that your vet would use to identify the cause. While this symptom seems trivial enough it can be indicative of a more serious systemic issue. Check your pet carefully for other signs of illness. If lethargy persists even without other symptoms you may still want to visit your vet.
Urinating and drinking excessively
A dog’s fluid intake and expulsion will increase and decrease with changes in temperature as well as activity. However, should you notice drastic changes in either it is most likely a sign of a growing problem. Some of these issues include diabetes, thyroid problems, urinary tract infection, and other disease.
Any dog that is having problems breathing is in trouble. Dyspnea, labored, difficult breathing or extreme shortness of breath can lead to tissue death due to lack of oxygen. Every dog will pant. They do this as their primary means of cooling their blood. However, abnormal trouble breathing that can occur both during inhalation and/or exhalation is a very serious symptom and should be reported to your vet immediately. Causes can include fluid build up in the lungs or chest cavity.