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Is Your Dog Sick? Knowing Signs that Could Save Your Dog's Life

posted Mar 16, 2010, 3:52 PM by Angela G
The more you know, the better prepared you will be to keep your dog healthy ... or maybe even save his life. 

Sometimes illness strikes without any warning signs.  But quite often there ARE signs along the way.  If your dog has a health problem and you know what to look for, you will be able to recognize the symptoms and get help.

This is really important because the sooner you begin treatment the better.  An early diagnosis gives your dog a much better chance of recovery.

There are certain symptoms that you should always be on the lookout for - and they should never be ignored.  If you were to call your local emergency clinic and report these symptoms, they would most likely tell you that it was an emergency situation and recommend that you bring your dog in as soon as possible. 

A symptom is a sign of a disease.  It is not a disease in itself.  Oftentimes, the same symptom can be a sign of multiple illnesses.  For example, breathing difficulties.  If your dog has trouble breathing that is a very significant symptom.  It can be a sign of heart failure, lung diseases like pneumonia, bleeding into the chest cavity, trauma and more.

I'd like to tell you about some of these symptoms today.  In fact, I think this information is so important that I've decided to dedicate a few more emails to this topic.  Make sure to read them all. 

Here are the first 5 symptoms you should never ignore:

1. Pacing and restlessness.  In dogs, pacing and restlessness can indicate pain, discomfort or distress.  Restlessness can be associated with a life-threatening condition call "bloat" in which the stomach becomes distended and twisted.  Left untreated, it results in death. Pacing and restless can be an indicator of a serious problem, so be on the lookout.

2. Unproductive retching.  Another common sign of "bloat" is when a dog attempts to vomit but is unable to bring anything up.  If your dog does this you should call your veterinarian immediately.

3. Collapse or fainting.  Acute collapse is a sudden loss of strength that causes your dog to fall and be unable to rise.  Some dogs will actually lose consciousness (this is called fainting or syncope).  Some dogs recover very quickly and look essentially normal just seconds to minutes after collapsing, whereas others stay in the collapsed state until they get assistance.  There are many reasons that a dog may collapse or faint, and all are serious.  If this happens to your dog, see your veterinarian immediately

4. Pale gums .  Paleness in the gums or mucous membranes can indicate blood loss or "shock".  The possible causes for blood loss or shock are life threatening so you need to act quickly.   Have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.

5. Lethargy or weakness .  Lethargy is a state of drowsiness, inactivity or indifference in which the dog shows delayed responses to external stimuli like sound, sight or touch. Lethargy is a nonspecific sign that can be associated with many possible conditions.  Sometimes it will have little to no impact on the dog's health but sometimes it can be a sign of a severe or life-threatening illness.  There's no way to know without an exam.  Lethargy of more than a day's duration should not be ignored, especially if it persists.

I hope this information will help keep your dog healthy.

Until next time,

Dr. Jon