Humans and their beloved friendly pets are similar in some ways, they need food and water for survival, they feel and display an array of emotions, they grow old and they can and often do fall ill.
Unlike humans, however, dogs are not able to verbalize how they feel, and so it can be difficult to tell when they are sick.
Luckily they do show some physical signs and symptoms as well as behavioral changes that can point to a particular dog illness. As a pet lover or a pet owner, being aware of these signs and symptoms can make all the difference for your dog.
By taking the correct measures when you identify these early signs of dog illness in your four-legged friend, you can help limit their suffering, initiate treatment, and even save their lives.
Here are five signs and symptoms you should watch out for:
Dog illness warning sign: Vomiting
Vomiting every now and then is no surprise for a dog owner. It can mean that your dog might have ingested a bad treat or maybe overindulged on a tasty meal.
Vomiting is the body’s way of getting rid of toxins. But vomiting a few times in a day should raise alarm bells. Many vomiting episodes could point to a severe case of dog illness including poisoning, viral or parasite infections, gastrointestinal issues, ingestion of foreign body or organ failure.
When vomiting accompanies other worrying symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite or vomiting blood, it is paramount to contact a veterinary immediately.
While awaiting treatment, it’s essential to make your dog drink as much water as possible since vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration and make the illness challenging to manage.
Dog illness warning sign: Diarrhea
Just like vomiting, diarrhea is a common symptom that is likely brought on by the same illnesses that cause your pup to vomit.
If, however, you notice diarrhea occurring more than a few times a day it can be a cause for concern. If a high fever accompanies diarrhea, vomiting or diarrhea contains blood, it is an emergency, and you should take the dog to the clinic immediately. It might be useful to get a sample of the watery stool before going to the vet to be used for lab tests.
Dog illness warning sign: Coughing and breathlessness
Coughing in its harmless state is often a reflex mechanism to get rid of foreign bodies within the respiratory system.
Persistent coughing that lasts for more than 24 hours and even disrupts sleep could be a sign of more worrying issues. A persistent cough can indicate dog illness including bronchitis, lung cancer, inhaled foreign body, congestive heart disease and many others.
If labored breathing or breathlessness accompany coughing, that can indicate a more severe respiratory or cardiovascular dog illness.
Normally dogs breathe at a rate of 15 to 20 breaths per minute, however, if you notice your dog is breathing at a more rapid rate, check the dog’s mouth. Look at the gums and under the tongue. If they are blue, it’s an emergency and you need to go to the vet immediately.
Dog illness warning sign: Fever
Running high fevers is typical for both humans and dogs and often indicates an illness brewing.
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101-102.5 Fahrenheit.
You can use a digital rectal thermometer suitable for dogs to check their temperature. If your dog has a fever, consult with your vet immediately to establish the cause of the fever and manage it.
Dog illness warning sign: Excessive scratching
While dogs routinely scratch, excessive scratching can indicate possible infestations of fleas, mites or ticks. Excessive scratching also can be a sign of a fungal or yeast infection or more seriously an endocrine or hormone problem.
A quick consult with the visit will help establish the cause and allow you to start treatment.
Taking your pup in for regular veterinary checks to help you manage his health and allow you to spot serious health issues early. Getting a jump on most cases of dog illness will give you more treatment options and hopefully better outcomes.