You know your dog. When he’s off…you can tell. But how do you know whether he’s just in a funk or whether you really should consult with a veterinarian?
No one wants to waste time and money on a vet appointment they don’t really need. That said, these are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. Here’s how you know your dog needs to see the vet.
Changes in Eating Habits
If dogs love one thing, it’s food. Just like people, all dogs have different appetites and tastes, so there’s nothing to worry about as long as your dog’s eating (and drinking) habits are consistent. But if your usually-ravenous Weimaraner is suddenly apathetic about dinnertime? That’s a sign something’s wrong. Likewise, a dog that can’t get enough food might have – gasp! – a tapeworm and a dog that’s drinking more or less than usual could be suffering from a thyroid issue. Keep good notes and talk to your vet.
Okay, so most don’t smell like rose petals but if your dog suddenly stinks? Something’s up. A few of the most common reasons for noxious odors in dogs are dead teeth, infection, and skin issues, but all kinds of maladies can make your dog smell less than daisy-fresh. Rest assured by the time you smell something rank coming from your dog, he probably needs medical treatment to resolve the issue.
The key word here again is “changes.” Your dog isn’t rough-and-tumble? Fine. But if he’s usually the first one out the door at walk time and now can’t be dragged out of bed? That’s an issue. Dogs can suffer a host of issues that make physical activities and even the presence of company uncomfortable. There are also a number of medical problems that can make your dog seem more aggressive and irritable than usual. If your pup just doesn’t seem like himself for more than few days at a time, call the vet for a full check-up.
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Are there activities your dog used to be able to do that he no longer can? If your dog can’t seem to get up the stairs anymore or ever seems a little clumsier than he used to be, talk to your vet. Perhaps his eyesight is deteriorating as he gets older, or maybe he has an inner-ear infection. The cause could be neurological, however, or he may need his medication tweaked a bit. Motor coordination is a really clear sign of how well a dog’s body is functioning.
Dogs are kind of like babies in that they eat, sleep, play, and poop. That’s really only a few things! If your dog’s poop is off, something’s amiss. Is he using the bathroom more often or with more difficulty than usual? Or maybe the consistency has changed? What about his pee…is he going only a little at a time, or even having trouble holding it in before it’s potty time? Changes in your dog’s elimination schedule and/or results are cause for concern because they indicate something systematic isn’t working correctly. A qualified veterinarian (and a few diagnostic tests) can get everyone sorted out.
It’s really, really hard to tell when your own dog has gained weight. The best way to check is to look back at old photos of your dog (you know you’ve got hundreds) and be honest about whether or not he’s packed on a few pounds. If he has, it’s smart to have your vet do a full evaluation before beginning any weight loss plan. You’ll get a base weight and some tips for feeding and exercising your dog exactly the right way. Over half of all American dogs are overweight or obese…don’t let yours be one of them!