As dog-lovers and responsible pet owners, you know your dog better than anyone else, so you’re likely to notice as soon as anything is amiss with your furry family member. But when should you “wait it out”, and when should you take him to the vet? We don’t want to be known as “those” pet owners who are constantly at the vet at the first sign of a sniffly nose but your dog can’t talk to tell you he’s not well, so here are 19 that signs you should head to your nearest vet for a professional diagnosis. And remember: rather err on the side of caution. If it’s not possible to get your dog to the vet’s rooms, pick up the phone for advice – your dog’s life could be at stake.
After two days of observing:
Not eating or drinking: Skipping the odd meal is no cause for concern but if he goes for as long as two days with no food (and even less with no water), there is reason for alarm. Conversely, if he suddenly can’t get enough food and is eating you out of house and home he needs medical attention.
Lethargic: Hot weather could be the culprit, but if your dog displays lethargy for a lengthy period, get him checked out.
Excessive thirst: An indication of kidney problems or diabetes.
Coat in poor condition: A dry, lacklustre coat could indicate underlying problems. Also seek medical advice if you spot lumps, open wounds that are refusing to heal or any other skin conditions.
Dragging bum on floor: Often an indication of worms.
Sudden weight loss: Again, this could indicate a serious health concern.
After one day of observing:
Odd-shaped stools / constipation / diarrhea (especially presenting blood) / Straining: Any change in “toilet habits” should raise an alarm. This could indicate a myriad of conditions; from a blockage to infection.
Frequent vomiting: Dogs are known to vomit fairly often if something doesn’t agree with them. Continuous vomiting, however, is another story. Not only could this lead to dehydration, the underlying issue needs to be addressed.
Eye infection: Red or cloudy eyes could indicate infection and should be assessed.
Laboured breathing: Immediate cause to call the vet asap.
Signs of severe pain: If your dog is crying, or showing signs he is in pain, don’t prolong the suffering.
Collapse: It’s a no brainer – get your dog to the vet immediately.
Seizure: Not necessarily life threatening, but if you suspect a seizure, this needs to be medically checked out.
Fever: As in humans, a high temperature indicates your body is fighting some sort of infection. If your dog presents a temperature of over 40 degrees, get him to the vet.
Distended abdomen: Bloating could indicate a life-threatening condition.
Trauma: If you suspect your dog has been in any form of trauma (hit by a car, dog fight etc.), he’ll need to be assessed urgently for internal and external injuries.
Suspected toxic exposure: If you suspect your dog has been poisoned or consumed ‘dog toxic’ items such as onion or chocolate, your vet can provide an emergency remedy if seen in time.
Blue or white gums: Often an indicator of a serious problem.
Growths: Could be cancerous or something as innocent as a swollen gland, but shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The above list is by no means comprehensive. Generally, if you are unsure as to the well-being of your dog, trust your instincts and remember: if in doubt, check it out!