There are many causes of a sick dog. Here is a list of the common symptoms that can go wrong with your dog.
The dog doesn’t act right or look right. Do you need to take him to the emergency vet or will a regular appointment be OK? It depends on what you’ve observed. Here are some things to look for if you think the dog is sick.
Vomiting/Trying to vomit—bloat, worms
Bloat is a fatal problem if not taken care of immediately. The dog’s stomach becomes distended with food, liquid and/or gas, and he tries to vomit and nothing comes out or only foam does. What happens is that the dog’s stomach twists when the stomach swells, and everything in the stomach is trapped. The dog’s blood pressure drops, which means he can lose consciousness and die. Take the dog to the vet as soon as you see the symptoms. Bloat mainly affects Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds, large dogs with deep chests.
Loss of appetite—dietary change, bloat, stress. Don’t underestimate stress as a contributing factor to any un-Bowser-like behavior.
Weight loss/weakness—worms, cancer, Cushing’s disease. These require only a regular appointment. If the problem is cancer, you’ll be referred to a veterinary oncologist.
Blood in urine—Urinary tract infection, internal injury, cystitis. Take the dog to the vet; the internal injury may be life-threatening.
Urinating too much—kidney disease, diabetes, Cushing’s disease. They all require a visit to the vet, but they’re not immediately life-threatening.
Urinating too little—kidney stones. They hurt like all get out and require a quick trip to the vet.
Forced urination—infection, cystitis, dehydration. If the dog is dehydrated, give him more water. The other problems need attention from the vet.
Drinking more water—kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease. There’s no need for rushing to the emergency vet, but do make an appointment with the regular vet.
Constipation—Bloat, intestinal blockage, obstruction, anal gland inflammation. The anal glands should be cleaned by the groomer every time the dog goes in.
Diarrhea—Change in diet, stress, Parvo (in unvaccinated puppies and dogs) can be fatal without immediate vet attention.
Blood in stool—colitis, obstruction (he ate a no-no). Colitis requires a trip to the vet fairly quickly and medication. It’s very uncomfortable.
Scratching at the ear or shaking his head—mites, foxtails, ear infection. The vet has to remove the foxtail immediately, or it will continue to penetrate into the inner ear.
Limping—injury, arthritis, dysplasia. The injury needs attention, but the arthritis and the dysplasia need only a regular appointment. They are chronic problems that will only get worse as time goes on.
Coughing—Kennel cough (bronchitis), heartworm, heart disease, pneumonia. Kennel cough is extremely contagious and needs immediate attention as do the others.
Disorientation/loss of balance--poison, ear infection. Make sure the dog doesn’t get near pesticides, germicides, household cleaners and some plants such as oleander, which is fatal.
Pale gums/bad breath/bleeding gums--gum disease. Pale gums can sometimes indicate anemia. Dogs don’t necessarily have bad breath, but their teeth do need to be brushed.
For the most part dogs are healthy, but sometimes you’ll see something not quite right. There are some symptoms that require a trip to the emergency vet, and there are others that need a regular appointment. Remember, as dogs age, they will develop illnesses such as arthritis that require an initial appointment and then follow-up visits on a regular basis. Otherwise, just keep an eye on your companion to make sure everything is all right.