When to contact a veterinarian

April 12, 2012

The importance of giving the dog veterinary care cannot be stressed enough. Breeders usually guarantee their puppies but the love invested on a puppy that dies can never be refunded. Thus as soon as the pup is taken home; the pet parent would arrange an appointment with the vet for complete physical examinations as well as for the inoculations that would minimize the risk of canine diseases. Dogs though would still get sick… would have accidents and be injured. Since pets cannot tell you what is wrong with them, how will you know if the condition warrants a trip to the vet?

Dogs are voracious eaters but they turn away from food from time to time. Pet owners should not worry if the dog refuses one meal or two as long as there are no signs of illness. But if the dog does not eat, occasionally vomits and passes green or black colored soft stool; if the dog is lethargic, drools and has a foul breath, the owner has better make an appointment with the veterinarian. Dogs are naturally energetic animals… always, jumping, running and playing. It is unnatural for dogs to sleep more than usual. The dog’s unwillingness to move can be due to swollen joints. This condition can be a sign of a muscular disease or a nervous system disorder. This is not an emergency situation. Nevertheless, the dog has to be seen by a vet within 24 hours. Correct diagnoses and the administration of proper medication will prevent the condition from worsening. Other concerns like an eye or an ear discharge as well as signs of skin irritations are not life threatening situations but a vet consult within 24 hours is also necessary.

The pet must be taken to the vet the very same day breathing difficulty is noticed. The shallow or rapid breathing especially if accompanied with continuous coughing and sneezing can be symptoms of a heart or respiratory ailment. Dehydration is often the outcome when the pet that is not eating for 24 hours continuously vomits and has diarrhea. The amount of water in the body has dropped excessively. The lost fluids must be replenished to maintain the normal level. Symptoms of muscular and nervous system disorders that have worsened warrants vet attention on the same day they were noticed. The dog that was limping is now totally incapable of moving. The pet would cry out in pain when touched or moved. The change in the pet’s behavior, the eyes squinting in pain should cue the owner that the condition has worsened and that the pet needs treatment within the day.

Whelping problems occur even to healthy dogs. The placenta is usually expelled after whelping. The after birth may be retained but only for about 10 minutes. A dam that has whelped but has retained the afterbirth for more than 8 hours is a cause for concern. The dog must have medical help within the day as the retained placenta can cause serious infection. A vet consult is necessary within the day you find out that the pregnant or the nursing dam has swollen and painful breast. The dog may have developed a mammary gland infection. Even if the dam has continued nursing the pups, a vet consult would still be necessary for the administration of proper antibiotic treatment. Swollen testicles are common in dogs. This condition is indicative of infection, physical trauma or tumor. Vet consultation is necessary for diagnosis and treatment. As aforementioned, skin irritations that cause the dog to itch is not considered as life serious conditions. Pet owners often take a “wait and see” approach for this concern. However, if the dog is scratching, gnawing and shaking the head excessively, if profuse hair is being shed and if red and painful bumps on the skin are noticed, the dog certainly needs a vet’s attention on the same day the condition is noticed.

The vet’s number or an animal hospital’s number should be on the phone’s speed dial. Having a pet in the family is just like having a baby minus the high chair. Although at a lesser degree, pets would need the same care. There will always be instances when the pet parent has to reach for the phone to contact the vet or the animal hospital right away.

A dog that is not breathing, has no pulse, has blue tinged gums and tongue needs immediate medical attention. Normal gums are pinkish in color. Bluish gums are indicative of disruptive blood flow. Abnormal heart rate is a good indication that the dog is distressed or in pain. Gastro intestinal distress will make the dog strain ineffectually and be unable to produce feces. The dog may have uncontrolled diarrhea and vomiting. The dog may also be producing black tarry stools. Bloat is a life threatening situation that manifested by the dog’s attempt to vomit. Serious cases of nervous system and muscular diseases would cause the dog to collapse or to have seizures. Whelping difficulty is a serious condition that can endanger the life of the pups and the dam. These emergency conditions need immediate medical attention.

Dogs are energetic and inquisitive creatures. Pet parents may do everything the pet proof the house but accidents cannot be totally prevented. The dog may chew an electric cord, may ingest poisonous substances and plants or may be injured and bleed profusely. These situations certainly warrant a vet’s attention.

Some conditions would need immediate veterinary attention; some pets would be okay as long as treated on the same day and some conditions can wait for the vet who is on an overnight trip. How will the pet parent know which are absolute emergencies and which are not? Because dogs are constantly in the company of their human families, a pet owner would know the normal behavior and appearance of the pet. Dogs are normally frisky and forever curious fur balls so that when the dog is lethargic and ignores its filled doggie bowl, the pet parent would wonder what is wrong with the dog. It would always be best to err on the safe side. Timely veterinary care can save the life of the pet.

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