Every dog owner will at some point wonder, Is My Dog Sick?
Checking a pet’s vital signs and performing a basic exam at home can help dog owners determine if their dog is sick and in need of a vet visit.
According to Dr. Michael Levine, DVM, there are several things that should be checked to help pet owners determine if their dog is, in fact, ill. The following values should be checked hourly and recorded, so pet owners can determine if the dog’s condition is worsening, improving or remaining stable.
- Has your dog stopped eating? An ill dog will not eat at all, or the dog will consume much less in terms of the amount of food. A dog who isn’t eating will need supplemental sugar to ward off hypoglycemia.
- Has your dog stopped drinking? A dog who feels unwell will stop drinking, which can quickly lead to dehydration and ultimately, death due to organ failure.
- Is your dog lethargic? A sick dog will sleep more and their activity level will be below normal. The dog may be hesitant to get out of bed, go for a walk, or play.
- Does your dog have a normal temperature? A dog’s normal rectal temperature is between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Ear temperature will be slightly lower. A temperature outside of this normal range is an indicator of a sick dog and a trip to the veterinarian is in order.
- Do your dog’s gums look normal? Normal gums should be a shade of pink, while problems like internal bleeding, anemia, or a disruption of normal blood flow will cause gums to be a shade of white, grey, blue or brick red, or yellow in color.
- Is your dog panting or drooling excessively? Panting can be a sign of distress, pain and discomfort.
- Is your dog restless? A restless dog is often a sick dog who is experiencing serious discomfort.
- Is your dog’s heart rate abnormal? Normal heart rate varies from dog to dog based on age, size and activity level, but a consistently fast or slow pulse can be indicative of illness and distress. A puppy or small dog’s heart rate will be around 180 beats per minute. And adult dog or a larger dog will have a normal rate somewhere between 60 and 160 beats per minute.
- Is your dog vomiting? Vomiting all food and drink for 18 hours or more can lead to serious dehydration and it can be a sign of a serious problem like an intestinal obstruction. Also look for projectile vomiting, blood in the vomit (either bright red or the consistency and color of coffee grounds), or a foul smelling vomit that smells similar to excrement.
- Does your dog have diarrhea? A dog with chronic diarrhea can end up seriously dehydrated. Other signs of a problem include blood in the feces or unproductive straining.
- Is your dog dehydrated? Pinch a dog’s skin between the shoulder blades. A healthy dog’s skin should flatten right out. A sick dog’s skin will flatten out over the course of several seconds. Also feel the gums; they should be slick and wet, not dry and sticky.
- Is your dog urinating frequently? Frequent urination, pain while urinating and straining can be a sign of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in dogs.
- Has your dog stopped playing? A normally playful dog will be less active when he’s sick.
Pet owners should also where they can find help for their pet in the event of an emergency.
In advance of a pet illness or injury involving a pet, locate a 24-hour veterinary clinic in your area and visit the clinic so you’re familiar with its location. Pet owners shouldn’t waste valuable time locating a 24-hour clinic in an emergency situation involving their pet.