Frugal pet parents are always looking for ways to save money on their pets. Unfortunately, this also leads people to delay seeking medical care because they’re uncertain if a visit to the vet is absolutely necessary. Most people know if a pet has collapsed, had a seizure, is bleeding, bloated, unable to walk, or has an injury, they should see their veterinarian quickly. But what about other, more subtle symptoms? When should you absolutely, positively take your pet to the veterinarian? Here are some common health symptoms that dog parents should never ignore.
1. Difficulty breathing
Any changes in your dog’s breathing need to be addressed immediately. Because small dogs have small respiratory tracts, even seemingly minor breathing issues can quickly lead to life-threatening situations. If your dog is coughing, panting more than normal, fatigues easily, or suddenly has loud or noisy breathing, they need a vet examination immediately. Heart and lung disease, infections, obstructions, and more can cause sudden breathing problems.
Diarrhea that persists for more than a day requires attention. Because dogs are smaller than humans, they can become dehydrated more quickly than we do. Additionally, no one likes to clean dirty carpets and bedding! If your dog has loose stools that last longer than a day, do your pet (and yourself) a favor and visit the vet. Most pets can receive simple treatments that will leave them feeling better in no time.
Vomiting once after eating garbage is expected. If it occurs three or more times in a day, that’s concerning. Vomiting three or more times in an hour may be an emergency. There are numerous causes of vomiting in dogs. Fortunately, most of them are non-life-threatening. Don’t take a chance that your pet is suffering from an intestinal obstruction, infection, pancreatitis, liver or kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, or worse. The sooner your pet is diagnosed and treated, the better (and less costly) the treatment.
4. Sudden increase in thirst or urination
Changes in thirst and urination can be challenging to identify in dogs and cats. If you suddenly observe your dog constantly at their water bowl, asking to go out more frequently, take your dog to the vet. These clinical signs may be associated with diabetes, kidney or liver disease, kidney or bladder infections, poisoning, hormonal diseases, and more.
5. Not eating for 48 hours
A dog’s appetite is steady unless there is something seriously wrong. When a dog doesn’t eat for two consecutive days, you should be worried. By delaying treatment, your dog experiences further nutritional deficiencies that may prolong or complicate their recovery. Take your pet’s lack of appetite very seriously and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Dark, black, or tar-like stools are often associated with digested blood in the feces. Bright red blood often accompanies colitis or anal gland conditions. Either way, you should have your pet checked out when you see changes in their feces. Bleeding ulcers, intestinal parasites, foreign objects, and more can cause dark or bloody stools. Seek treatment as quickly as possible.
7. Unable to defecate or urinate
A pet who is straining or unable to urinate or defecate is in immediate danger. Besides the risk of bladder or urethral rupture, kidney failure, blood poisoning, seizures, and even worse conditions is great, your pet should receive medical attention immediately. Many dogs start out straining to go to the bathroom only to suddenly develop complete blockage. Male dogs are at particular risk for urethral or urinary obstructions.
While this is not a complete list of health symptoms in dogs that require immediate medical attention, it is a “wish list” many veterinarians wish their clients would heed. Too many pets suffer needlessly or must endure invasive treatments due to treatment delays. Use these seven symptoms as a guideline and always err on the side of caution when dealing with your pet. They can’t tell you what’s wrong or how they feel. It’s up to you to be their guardians and pay close attention to the subtle signs they give you.