As a dog owner you probably know your pet better that anyone and may be able to recognize any changes in their behaviour, movements, body and skin condition and temperament which would justify a visit to your vet. It is, however, not always easy to pick up on an illness, some may be obvious but others may blend into your dog’s normal behaviour over time until they become serious. The earlier your vet can examine your beloved pet, the better it will be for them and your peace of mind and perhaps your wallet because the longer you leave it the more complicated treatment may become.
There are some common signs that your dog is not well and these are listed below:
Change in appetite: Just like us many dogs will stop eating when they feel unwell. It may be the first sign that something is wrong before any other symptoms occur. Dental or intestinal problems are the most common cause of lack of appetite but there are many other diseases which may cause lack of appetite. It could be something as simple as an allergy if you have changed their diet. It could also be as a result of something that they have eaten outside which disagrees with their stomach but if they have not eaten for a few days it would be advisable to make a trip to the vet. Transversely if they are suddenly eating more than usual it can also indicate a medical condition. This does not apply to a growing puppy because as they grow and develop so their appetite will increase which is perfectly normal. However, an adult dog which suddenly seems constantly hungry is a concern and it would be wise to consult your vet.
Excessive thirst or urination: If your dog is drinking more water than usual and urinating more frequently, it may be a sign of a disease such as diabetes which will cause them to be thirstier because of their high blood sugar level. Other issues which can cause excessive thirst are kidney and bladder problems such as a urinary tract infection. The excessive thirst is a way the body tries to get rid of toxins. Naturally if it is a hot day or they have been exercising they will drink more than usual but if there is no obvious reason for the increase in water intake it is best to consult your vet.
Lethargy: Once again, just like us when dogs feel unwell they will not want to move around much so if your dog is suddenly lying around more than usual and generally acting like it does do not feel well they probably are not well. Sudden and random lethargy could be a sign of an underlying health problem and there are many severe diseases which can cause energy loss without other symptoms such as heart failure so consult a vet as soon as possible so he/she can investigate further.
Vomiting or diarrhoea: Frequent vomiting or diarrhoea can indicate a digestive problem or a more serious illness. If it is not a result of something they have eaten or a change in diet it is best to consult your vet.
Inability to urinate or have bowel movements: Dogs that are sick may have trouble urinating or defecating. Some issues may be minor but if they are battling to urinate it could be as a result of a blockage which requires immediate attention. The same is true of a difficulty in defecating.
Coughing or sneezing: A persistent cough or sneeze could be a sign of a respiratory infection.
Changes in behaviour: If your dog is suddenly behaving differently, such as being more aggressive or anxious, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. When sick they may not want to be touched or petted. They could have pain somewhere in or on their body and in order to prevent them being hurt further they may give off warning signs such as growling, baring their teeth or snapping to prevent you touching them. Take these signs seriously and get them to a vet as soon as possible.
Hiding: Just like their wild ancestors it is instinctual for a sick dog to try and get away from others so it is not uncommon for your dog to try and find a place to hide and has nothing to do with you. If it suddenly starts hiding under beds and does not want to come out it could be a sign something is wrong. Dogs can also do this when stressed so if you have recently changed homes or their routine this could be the cause but if nothing has changed it could be a sign of an illness.
Skin or coat problems: If your dog has itchy or inflamed skin, hair loss or a dull coat, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem and they should see a vet. Persistent licking can also be a sign of an underlying problem.
Changes in their eyes: Eyes can be a very good indicator of something not being right. They may become cloudy, watery or get a faraway look. Many underlying issues can cause these problems. Even if they have just scratched their eye it is a good idea to take them to a vet as it may become infected.
Difficulty walking or standing: If your dog has trouble walking or standing, it could be a sign of joint problems or other issues.
Confusion: If your dog: If your dog suddenly starts wandering around and bumping into furniture etc. or having accidents in the house it could be a sign that they have a neurological condition or may be going blind and a vet should immediately be consulted
Take the time to get to know your dog’s normal behaviour and every now and again look it over from head to toe to see if you can detect anything different. Remember that early detection and treatment can help improve the outcome of many health problems.