It is often difficult to know if your dog is sick. Indeed, he cannot unfortunately tell us if he is in pain somewhere, if he is not feeling well, etc… It is therefore quite legitimate to ask how to “guess” if his dog is sick and if it is useful to consult a veterinarian. We propose you discover the main symptoms encountered in sick dogs that require consulting a veterinarian.
The “shape” of your dog
If you find that your dog is down, unresponsive, doesn’t want to play, etc…, he may be sick. So be attentive to your dog to see if he doesn’t have any of the symptoms listed below.
As an owner, you are the person who knows your pet best and who will be able to quickly detect a decline in shape or an abnormal change in behavior.
Appetite and water consumption
A sick animal will generally refuse to eat. Anorexia is therefore a warning sign of a disease. A sick dog may also refuse to drink and become dehydrated.
This is also not normal if your dog drinks excessively. An increase in the amount of water drunk is accompanied by an increase in the amount of urine produced: this is called polyuria-polydipsia syndrome.
Similarly, an increase in the amount of food consumed is abnormal: this is called polyphagia.
It is therefore important to consult a veterinarian if your dog refuses to eat and drink, or if he drinks more and eats much more than normal.
The only reliable method to measure your dog’s temperature is to use a thermometer. The rectal temperature in dogs is between 38°C and 39°C.
If the temperature is above 39°C, then your dog has a fever (also called hyperthermia). Fever can be encountered during infectious diseases, heatstroke, etc…
If the temperature is much lower than 38°C, then your dog is hypothermic.
In both cases, it is strongly advised to consult a veterinarian.
The color of the mucous membranes
The color of the mucous membranes can be evaluated at the gum level for example. They must be pink and moist. If the mucous membranes are pale, yellow, if you observe red spots, etc…, we advise you to consult a veterinarian because this can be a sign of a serious disease (intoxication by anticoagulant raticide, leptospirosis, etc…).
Rapid and significant weight loss is always abnormal. It is often a sign of serious illnesses (endocrine disorders or tumor processes for example). It is therefore important to monitor your pet’s weight.
Many respiratory symptoms can be encountered: coughing, sneezing, snoring, etc…
The causes are varied: parasitic, infectious, cardiac diseases…
If your dog presents digestive problems (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, etc…), then it is recommended to consult a veterinarian.
Beware of stomach dilatation-torsion in large dogs which is a real emergency! If your dog seems to want to vomit and can’t do it and his abdomen seems swollen, you should take him to your veterinarian right away.
Urinary tract disorders
It is important to watch the color of your dog’s urine. If you see blood in your dog’s urine, it may be a sign of uterine infection or a prostate infection in males. Urine can also be very dark (“cola” color) in piroplasmosis for example.
If you also observe that your dog urinates more often than before, that it is painful when he urinates, that he cannot urinate, etc., consult a veterinarian.
Reproductive tract disorders
In unsterilized females, the mucopurulent whitish vulval discharge may be encountered during myometrial examinations. An emergency consultation with a veterinarian is necessary.
Lameness in a dog can have many origins: arthrosis, fracture, dysplasia, rupture of cruciate ligaments, wounds on the pads, etc…
An X-ray may be taken to establish a diagnosis.
Many neurological disorders may be present: balance disorders, paralysis, tremors, loss of vision, etc. They may be due to many causes: intoxication, herniated disc, infectious diseases, etc…
When neurological symptoms are observed, it is advised to consult a veterinarian as a matter of urgency.
If your dog presents itching, significant hair loss, pimples, areas of irritation, red skin, etc… it is recommended that you consult a veterinarian to examine your dog. Additional examinations may be necessary to determine the origin of the symptoms (skin scrapings, biopsies, etc…).
In conclusion, we advise you to consult a veterinarian if you have the slightest doubt about your pet’s state of health for an examination. He will possibly carry out additional tests (Blood tests, X-rays, etc…) to establish a diagnosis and prescribe an adapted treatment. Early treatment will help relieve your dog and limit the aggravation of the disease.
To prevent disease, don’t forget to vaccinate your dog, deworm him, treat him against fleas and ticks, feed him quality food, etc… We also advise you to consult your veterinarian regularly for a health check. A “routine” blood test is recommended before surgery and in older animals.