When to See the Vet
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
New dog owners, much like new parents, often have trouble deciding when it is necessary to seek medical attention for their dog. The most basic rule of thumb is, if your dog is displaying behavior uncharacteristic of his normal actions, call the vet. Get to know your dog well enough that you can spot disconcerting changes in behavior. Cultivate a good relationship with your vet clinic so you are comfortable calling any time you think there might be a problem.
If any of the following are present in your dog for more than 24 hours, it is time for a trip to the vet.
Vomiting & Diarrhea
Dogs love to get into things, and they will often eat bugs, grass, and other objects found in the yard and around the house that might upset their stomachs. This being the case, the occasional vomiting or diarrhea is not usually a big deal. However, if the vomiting or diarrhea last for more than 24 hours, if there is blood present in the vomit or stool, or if it is accompanied by lethargy or a change in appetite there are several severe health conditions that should be ruled out by your vet. These symptoms can be indicative of a gastric ulcer, a swallowed foreign object, gastrointestinal illness, or a parasitic infection like roundworms, hookworms, or giardia.
Change in Potty Habits
If your dog is urinating more or less frequently, accompanied by increased or decreased thirst, or if he is exhibiting changes in already consistent house training, like urinating in the house, this might be cause for concern. A change in your dog’s bathroom habits could be indicative of liver, kidney, or adrenal gland disease, diabetes, urinary tract infection, or bladder infection.
Lack of Appetite
A healthy appetite is a strong indicator of a healthy dog, so if your dog has suddenly lost interest in eating, call your vet. This is especially so if a decreased appetite is accompanied by a change in exercise tolerance, weakness, balance problems, collapse, or loss of consciousness. A change in appetite can be indicative of fever, pain, gastrointestinal upset or stress.
Coughing, especially in dogs with pushed-in faces like bull dogs, pugs, and boxers (who are already more sensitive to respiratory upset) can be a sign of various health conditions including heart disease, heartworms, lung disease, and kennel cough. See the vet right away, especially if the cough is accompanied by sneezing, and discharge from the eyes, ears, or nose.
Hair Loss and/or Itchy Skin
Skin issues can be symptomatic of fleas, ticks, mites, endocrine problems, staph infections and fungal or yeast infections. See your vet to rule out serious health conditions, and gain control over less dire issues before they lead to major health problems.
Lameness, Stiffness and Difficulty Rising
Owners of ageing dogs often take these symptoms as a normal part of the ageing process, which they are to some degree, but your vet can help you manage your dog’s pain to greatly improve his quality of life. These can also be symptoms of injury, hip dysplasia, or Lyme disease. Your vet might suggest NSAIDS (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs used to control pain), a change in exercise, physical therapy, and maybe even surgery.
Distinctly Bad Breath
We know dogs don’t walk around all day smelling minty-fresh, but if your dog suddenly develops particularly bad breath, there might be cause for concern. Bad breath can be an indication of dental problems or metabolism issues. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly so you know that especially bad breath is a symptom of another problem.
If your dog is losing weight and you have not made any changes to his diet or exercise routine, see your vet. Weight loss is an indicator of many serious health issues such as anemia, parasites, and scores of other problems.
Pale Gums and/or Tongue
If your dog’s gums or tongue lose their pink hue, take your dog to the vet immediately. Whitening gums and tongue are a sign of shock, indicating that your dog must be treated right away.