How do I know if my dog is really sick?

April 13, 2012

Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to the health of the pet, the friendly vet’s expertise is the first line of defense against diseases that can make a significant difference to the dog’s life. Timely veterinary care would spell the difference between full recovery and worsening of the pet’s condition. However, an owner’s ability to interpret even the slightest change in the behavior of the pet cannot be faulted by any animal doctor that has spent years studying the symptoms and the cures for canine illnesses. A dog owner will know the pet much better than any veterinarian. The vet may have the expertise but an owner that lives with and takes care of the pet would be in a better position to see if the pet is off color. Dogs don’t have the ability to say what ails them but an owner that knows the normal behavior of the pet would immediately know if a situation warrants a visit to the vet.

New dog owners would find it rather difficult to see the telltale signs that the dog does not feel up to par. First time dog owners would be heard asking “Is my dog sick?” To be able to know if the dog is under the weather you have to be aware how your pet acts when it feels good. The dog’s odd behavior is your cue to observe the pet carefully. The change in behavior is an indicator of a medical concern. It can also be an indicator of an emotional issue. Dogs form a strong bond with the human family. A lethargic dog that has no interest in doing its normal activities and turns away from food may not be sick. The dog may be reacting to a slight hiccup in his life like a new baby or a new pet that gets the family’s attention. However, a pet that is sick would exhibit other symptoms.

It is very important to know the normal appearance of the pet as it will be your point of reference in knowing if the dog is sick. Take note of the dog’s appearance. Dull dry coat can be a sign of a chronic condition. A dog normally has a wet and cold nose. Although a dog would have a dry nose in hot weather, a dry nose is an indication that the pet is running a temperature. Generally, dogs have pink gums. Unless the dog has naturally dark gums blue, white or gray gums is an indication that the dog is sick. This gum color is an indication of anemia or internal bleeding. A dog’s distended abdomen can be caused by parasite infestation of by a liver problem.

Of course you would know the eating habits of your pet. Dogs are voracious eaters but one that is sick will repeatedly turn away from its food bowl. In some cases, the dog would consume more food than it normally does but progressively loss weight. Dogs normally drink more during hot weather but excessive drinking can be an indication of a serious medical condition. Is the dog’s urine darker than usual? Is the stool bloody? Diarrhea is common in dogs especially in puppies but bloody feces should not be ignored. This is your cue to visit the vet. A change in behavior and in the activity level is a telltale sign that all is not well with the dog. Has the dog been lethargic and restless lately? Dogs would jump at the chance to walk or run with you but one that is sick would rather sleep and lay down all day. Take note of the signs of pain and distress. A dog that limps, drools excessively and has breathing difficulties has to be taken to the vet immediately.

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