When your dog is ill

Do you really know you when your dog is sick? Many times, our pets may show behavioural changes indicative  of suffering. The owner is the only one that can detect the symptoms and will be of vital importance when it comes to communicating these to the vet.
When you get home and do not get the usual greeting or your dog does not respond  in the normal manner when invited for his daily walk, he may be suffering or  incubating an illness. If his appetite is not normal it can often be caused by gastritis. This can happen quite regularly  (every 1 or 2 weeks) especially if fed leftovers. This type of feeding can cause a sudden change in pH or a drastic increase of gastric acids. In  these cases, simply fasting the dog for 24 hours will often bring him back to normal. Nausea can manifest itself by excessive licking or salivation, the ingestion of  grass or weeds. Excessive thirst is also indicative of a gastro-intestinal or sometimes urinary problems.
Excessive scratching of the anal area may indicate an alteration in anal glands or a parasitic intestinal worms. Frequent shaking of the head could indicate an outer ear infection. Excessive scratching of the skin may indicate the presence of fleas, especially if the scratching happens in the posterior third. In addition to behavioural changes you should take note of the frequency and colour of the stools and urine. In neutered bitches the regularity and strength of periods can also be of importance. Respiratory symptoms such as coughing should be monitored and noted if it occurs during exertion or rest, at night or during the day… the vet will probably ask these questions. Certain breeds are more prone than others to particular diseases, common (but not exhaustive) are: Setters and Greyhounds – Distemper virus. Rottweilers – Parvovirus. West Highland Terrier – obstruction of the cardia. Shar-Pei – Entropion Dachshunds – spinal problems. Golden Retrievers – intestinal disease. Chow-Chow – moist dermatitis. Boxers – skin tumours. Pekinese – ocular prolapse. Yorkshire Terrier – liver disease and dental problems. German Shepherd – hip dysplasia. Doberman – cervical spine problems. Dogue de Bordeaux – demodectic mange. Poodle – heart disease. Collie – eye problems. Bulldog – respiratory problems. Age is another factor to take into account when it comes to certain illnesses. From one year of age it is almost impossible for a dog to have parvovirus, from 7 years onwards it is more  common to encounter heart disease, osteoarthritis, cataracts, etc, and from age 10 a fairly frequent occurrence are mammary tumours, skin tumours, spleen tumours, etc.

Because our dogs cannot speak, it is up to the owner, or the person who best knows the dogs habits and spends most time with them to act as a spokesperson when visiting the veterinary. The more detailed your information is the more accurate the diagnosis by the veterinarian will be. It can make a big difference. Here is a list of the data that the animal owner should provide to the vet when your pet gets sick (which constitute the so-called medical history).

Where did you get your pet: shop, breeder, rescue home, found?
Habitat and care
Where do you reside: city or countryside?
Which family member is most familiar with the pet?
What is the regular food?
How often do you batheyour pet? Which shampoo do you use?
Do you have other animals?
What kind? Have they been sick?
Where do you walk normally? Who walks the dog? How many times a day?
Health status
Are the vaccinations complete and up to date?
Against which diseases?
Is the treatment against internal and external parasites up to date? Which products are being used?
When was the last time you visited a vet? Which tests were performed?
What was the last date of a blood test?
Has the animal had any surgery?
Has the animal been sick before? What medications do you give?
Present illness
What’s wrong?
Since when?
What do you attribute it to?
If you are able to answer all of these questions when your pet becomes ill, it would be a great aid to a vet’s diagnosis

This article was published in Costa Blanca News.