Like us, dogs are not immune from physical decline that comes with advancing years. Whilst they can still be active and have a great life, they can also come down with a wide range of minor ailments, as well as serious issues and some that may be urgent.
Unfortunately dogs can’t talk, but they can express themselves through their behaviour. So it’s important to be on the lookout for changes which may signal something is amiss. Remember if there is a problem, the sooner you get to it, the better the chance you have of fixing it, and also you can potentially reduce the vet bills as your pet is getting treatment before the matter escalates into something serious.
If you notice any of the following, we’d suggest it’s time to get down to the vet!
- Bleeding. This can be from a wound, mouth, or nose, or in feces or urine.
- Loss of control. Your pet collapses, is unsteady on her feet, doesn’t respond to his name, can’t control when she urinates or defecates, or is unconscious — a definite emergency.
- Changes in appetite and thirst. Your pet suffers a noticeably reduced appetite or is drinking and urinating more it could be a sign of Cushings disease.
- Weight loss. The cause can range from infected teeth and internal parasites to hormonal problems, organ failure, even cancer.
- Changes in urination and defecation. Is your dog or cat going to the bathroom more than usual, or has blood tinged urine? It might be a bladder stone or infection, a hormonal problem, or kidney disease. Does the stool have more mucus or is less well-formed? It might be Inflammatory Bowel Disease, unhealthy gut flora (needs probiotics), even a pancreatic deficiency.
- Heavy breathing. While it might be something as simple as obesity, it could also be an indication of a heart problem, asthma, pneumonia, inflammation of the bronchial tree, even an obstructed airway.
- Lumps and bumps. While some skin tags and lumps are just a sign of old age and indicative of an immune system that’s not working as well, a mass might be a sign of cancer. Pay particular attention to the dog’s or cat’s mouth, because tumors there tend to be among the most serious.
- Strange smells. It pays to sniff your pooch from time to time. Warning signs of cancer include foul odors, swellings, unusual discharges, or bleeding.
- Decreased activity. This can be tricky as dogs love to sleep! However if there is a change in activity or disinterest that could be a sign of illness.
- Head tilting, shaking, rubbing against furniture. This could be a sign of an ear infection.
Of course, you shouldn’t just take your pet to the vet when you observe a problem. As with yourself, it’s just good practice to have an annual check up. Your vet will be able to pick up many diseases and conditions in their infancy, and prevent unnecessary pain, expense or heartbreak.
Ref: Dr Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian
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