Unless your dog is very lucky, they will get ill at some point in their lives. Therefore, it’s worth knowing a few signs of illness and their possible causes. The following advice is only an introduction and no substitute for consulting a trained professional. If you have any concerns about the health of your puppy or dog, contact your vet immediately.
Lethargy or Lack of Interest
Dogs and puppies spend a lot of time sleeping., but they are also highly active, playful and inquisitive when they are awake. You will also get to know what a normal level of activity is for your dog. If she appears to have lost all interest in her surroundings and just wants to sleep then contact your vet immediately.
All dogs vomit every so often and the reason is usually that they’ve been eating too fast or have eaten something they are not supposed to. However if they are vomiting frequently over the course of a day and have other symptoms, such as no appetite or blood in their vomit, you need to take them to the vets. Vomiting can causes from change in diet, food poisoning, intestine parasites, liver and kidney problems, foreign objects in the intestines or viral infections.
Diarrhoea is commonly caused by a sudden change of diet. If you run out of dog food and offer a short-term substitute, you can expect your dog to get Diarrhoea. But loose stools can be a sign of more serious problems, especially if they continue for more than a day or two, contain blood, or are accompanied by fever or vomiting. If you cannot pin it down to a simple change in diet, see your vet.
If you dog make several trips to pee without producing any results, start urinating more frequently or urinating in unusual places, she may have a urinary tract infection or blockage. If the colour of the urine is much darker than normal – deep orange, brown or red instead of the normal yellow – she may be dehydrated or have something more serious such as kidney problems.
Dogs gums change colour when they are unwell, so checking your dog’s gum is a good way to monitor her health. If you notice that her gums are pale, blue, bright red or yellow, it’s a sign that you need to get her checked out by the vet as soon as possible. Causes can include anaemia, diabetes, hypoglycaemia, poor circulation and liver or blood clotting problems.
Signs of Poisoning
If your dog is drooling, vomiting, lethargic, has diarrhoea or a loss of appetite, these could be the early signs of poisoning. The symptoms progress with excessive thirst or urination and tell-tale nervousness, muscle twitching or seizures and then coma. As soon as you suspect that your dog has ingested poison, it is imperative that you get treatment as quickly as possible. The vet will need to administer an emetic to induce vomiting, to minimize internal damage, and then sedate her to control life-threatening seizures if the symptoms are well advanced.
Panting, coughing, sneezing and wheezing
When a dog pants or coughs it is usually a sign of overheating or over exertion. Take her somewhere cool and encourage her to stay still and calm down. Putting cold water on the pads of her paws (where her sweat glands are) can help. Sneezing, wheezing or repeated coughing is often the sign of a respiratory tract problem or something else that requires immediate attention, such as kennel cough or heartworms, so don’t delay, visit the vet right away.
Loss of appetite
Like humans, your dog may eat less if she’s stressed or getting older. However loss of appetite can also be a sign of illness, especially in combination with other symptoms. If your dog refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, visit your vet to rule out any serious illness such as liver or kidney problems, cancer or infection.
Stiffness or Difficulty in rising or climbing stairs
If your dog has had a recent injury or operation, her movement may be limited. However, if there is no obvious explanation you should seek advice from your vet. Stiffness and lameness can be a sign of arthritis, dysplasia of the hips or ligament problems.
Excessive Scratching or hair loss
Dogs love a good scratch, but you will notice if it becomes more frequent than usual. Excessive scratching can be a sign of fleas, ticks or mites, stress and allergies. These aren’t serious but do need to be treated. Visit the vet to make sure it’s not something more serious, as itching and hair loss are also caused by fungal and yeast infections and endocrine disorders.