There are times it can be tricky to assess whether a pet needs to go to the vet or not. They can’t verbally let us know when they are feeling off colour, and as such pet owners need to be able to read cues such as a dog (or cat’s) attitude, actions, and demeanour.
An owner in tune with their pet will often be able to tell pretty quickly when something isn’t right; others may not be so attuned to subtle changes in a pet which signal that a trip to the vet is in order.
Here are some signs that a dog needs to be seen by a vet urgently:
• Traumatic injury – including hit by vehicle, fall, or dog fight. Even if he appears OK.
• Known or suspected toxic exposure – to poisons, plants, bites, etc.
• Laboured breathing
• Collapse or loss of consciousness
• Inability to walk
• Gums that are very pale, white, or even blue
• Extreme abdominal bloating
• Crying as if in pain
• Imbalance or other signs of dizziness
• High (above 40) or low (below 37) body temperature
• Dog labouring for longer than four hours without giving birth, straining for longer than thirty minutes, or more than two hours pass between puppies
Signs lasting more than a couple of days which require vet assessment:
• Lameness or limping
• Vomiting or diarrhoea
• Strange-looking stools
• Lethargy, tiredness, or sluggishness
• Sudden weight loss
• Red or cloudy eyes
• Loss of appetite
• Excessive thirst or salivation
• Constant panting or wheezing
• Scooting or dragging of the anus
• Nasal congestion or discharge
• Frequent urination
• Urinating inappropriately (accidents in the house, for example).
• Dull, rough, dry, flaky coat with or without excessive scratching or bald patches
• Crying or whining as if in pain
• Your dog is due for re-vaccination
Anything which is not normal for your dog needs to be assessed. Sometimes the reason for abnormal dog condition is simple to treat or manage; other times it may be a serious or even life-threatening condition. Look after your pet as you would your children – and seek professional medical advice if ever in doubt.