Looking for signs and symptoms of a sick dog? When it comes to pet health, a partnership with your veterinarian is vital. Since you live with your dog, it’s up to pet parents to understand normal dog behavior and when a pet symptom may point to pet care problems. Puppies and old dogs get sick quicker and take longer to recover. Knowing the top 7 signs that you have a sick dog could save their life.
Top 7 Signs You Have A Sick Dog
Read more of the symptoms below to find out if your dog is sick and if you should take them to a vet!
1. Appetite Loss
Most dogs love their food, so missing a meal can be a wake-up call that your buddy feels bad. Dogs evolved as “gorgers” meaning they’re able to eat a lot after a successful hunt, and then go without food for a day or more. So missing a meal or two won’t hurt a healthy dog.
However, a sudden or gradual appetite loss points to health problems your vet needs to address. Refusing to eat (anorexia) can be especially dangerous in puppies and Toy breed dogs, causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Signs of a sick dog with low blood sugar include:
- Weakness, sleepiness
- Drunken disoriented behavior
- Glassy, unfocused eyes
- Trembling, twitching or seizures
- Collapse, unconsciousness
ugh dog throw up https://t.co/mO6XWv1iXL
— Hoody ALan (@Hoody_Alan) November 28, 2017
Vomiting is the expulsion of digested food or other stomach contents. This is different than a regurgitation of undigested food, which happens almost immediately after eating. Dogs vomit more easily than many other animals. My German Shepherd, Magic, tends to get a “whoopsy” tummy if they don’t eat right away in the morning. Your dog may often munch grass to speed up the purging process. Yuck!
A sudden change in diet (eating fatty foods, raiding the garbage) may prompt vomiting or even the emotional upset of a favorite human’s absence. While not typical, vomiting usually isn’t a problem if it happens only once and your dog acts fine afterward.
Vomiting is not a diagnosis. It’s a sign of a possible health problem, such as:
- Viral diseases like parvovirus and distemper
- Toxic substances (chocolate, household poisons, human medications)
- Swallowed inedible objects (pieces of toys, too much rawhide)
- Congenital problems (megaesophagus) that make food come back up.
Unproductive vomiting (retching without anything expelled), and blood in the vomit is considered an emergency, so get your dog to the vet asap. Any time your dog vomits three or more times in a single day, or two or more days in a row, you should call the veterinarian. Even if it happens intermittently—maybe twice a month—check with the vet to find out why.
Normal dog stool should be well-formed and brown. Diarrhea—soft, liquid, or frequent bowel movements—is pretty frequent in dogs, and most often results from over-indulgence in treats or raiding the garbage.
But diarrhea also is a pet symptom of a disease like a parvovirus and a distemper, which also include vomiting and fever. Chronic diarrhea might also point to intestinal parasites, food intolerances or allergies, or even inflammatory bowel disease. My dog Magic once developed explosive diarrhea from drinking water from our pond and contracting a microscopic parasite.
Some diarrhea points to life-threatening conditions. If your dog has any of the following signs, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
- Looks black with a tar-like consistency (that’s often digested blood)
- Smells hugely foul (that may be tissue sloughing, common in parvovirus)
- Contains copious amounts of red blood
- Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, severe pain, fever, appetite loss or lethargy.
— Pet Food Institute (@uspetfood) July 18, 2017
Your dog’s body contains 60 percent water. Vomiting and diarrhea leads to water loss that results in dehydration. Even a 5 percent loss causes symptoms of dehydration. Puppies especially can suffer life-threatening dehydration, leading to shock, collapse, and death.
If your dog’s diarrhea is frequent and most liquid, especially when accompanied by vomiting, refusing to eat, lethargy, weakness, and loss of skin elasticity, see the veterinarian immediately. You can check your dog’s dehydration level with a couple of easy tests.
- Tenting the skin gently lifts the scruff (loose skin over the shoulders or neck), then releases it to see how quickly it springs back into place. The skin springs back into place immediately with regular hydration. The more severe the dehydration, the less elastic the skin becomes. With moderate dehydration, the skin returns to place slowly, but with severe conditions, the skin remains “tented.” These dogs need immediate vet care.
- Capillary refill time also measures dog dehydration. These tiny blood vessels lie near the surface of the skin and are easiest to see in your dog’s gums above their teeth. Capillaries give gums the normal pink color. For this test, lift the dog’s upper lip, and press the flat of one finger against the gum. That temporarily presses blood out of the tissue (it turns white or light pink), and when you release the pressure, blood flows back into the tissue with a return of normal color. In a normal dog, the color returns to pink in less than 2 seconds. If it takes longer than 3-4 seconds, your dog is dehydrated and needs veterinary attention.
Minor pet health issues may be easily treated at home. Even some emergency situations benefit from home first aid. However, when your dog shows one of these top 4 dangerous dog symptoms you could have a sick dog; consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
5. Hair Loss And Skin Rashes
Excessive scratching could be a sign of a more profound skin problem. Too much of it can cause bald spots on their fur and even skin rashes. This can be due to several issues including fleas and tick.
Be aware of the two types of mange in dogs: Sarcoptic and Demodectic.
- Sarcoptic mange is caused by microscopic oval-shaped mites that burrow into the skin and lays eggs. If untreated, these mites will cause an infection in the entire body. It’s also highly contagious to other dogs so if you have multiple pets. You will need to isolate the infected one.
- Demodectic mange, on the other hand, is from mites that puppies naturally get from their mothers. They can be isolated rashes on your pup’s skin, but they eventually go away as they mature. Boost your pup’s immune system to help them recover faster. However, get your vet involved if the demodectic mange spreads to other parts of the body.
There are medical treatments for mange, such as dips and even oral medication. However, if you prefer a more holistic approach, you can try using apple cider vinegar, lemon, aloe vera, as well as garlic. You can also use yogurt, cedar oil, and even plain old soapy water can help get rid of the mites that cause mange.
6. Difficulty Walking
— Buddy Beds (@caringfordogs) March 9, 2017
If you see your dog having problems with walking, it could be because of problems with their bones. If he’s a bit older, then it could be arthritis. It’s a common bone ailment for dogs, just like in humans. However, other bone diseases need medical attention.
If your dog is relatively young but is already limping, it may be because of the following reasons:
- Back Problems: Dogs with problems with their spine could result in an uneven gait. Diseases such as degenerative myelopathy, spondylosis, and disc problems can cause walking problems. Injuries to the spinal column or physical stress can also impede proper walking.
- Dysplasia: Some dogs are born with either a hip or elbow dysplasia. They are typically not bred to avoid this genetic disease from being passed on. Large breeds are the most prone to developing this disease.
- Neurological disorders: Epilepsy, stroke, encephalitis and other issues with the brain can cause balance issues, which results in uneven walking.
- Tumors: Whether malignant or benign, tumors can interfere with your pet’s motor skills. It also causes pain as well as other nerve problems.
Dogs usually need therapy on top of medical assistance if they have prolonged walking difficulties. It’s best to have your sick dog checked over by a vet to rule out any severe illnesses.
With humans, coughing could mean you have something irritable in your throat or a mild cough. Excessive and prolonged coughing, however, could mean a more severe sickness. It’s the same with sick dogs. If they have something stuck in their throat, they’ll cough it out until it dislodges.
On the other hand, prolonged coughing could only be a symptom of a bigger problem. Some of the possible sicknesses include:
- Kennel cough
- Lung diseases
If you think your pet has been coughing a lot with a decreased appetite or energy, you should bring them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Did you learn how to check specific symptoms of your sick dog? Watch our video and share with your friends!
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Knowing what pet symptoms to look for could save your beloved dog’s life. It also helps to know a few first aid procedures that could help you out in emergency situations.
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