Concerned that your dog may be ill, but not sure if it's time to call the vet? Our Hopkinsville vets explain the basics about five dog illnesses that are surprisingly common, and provide a dog symptom checklist to help you decide if it's time to call the vet.
What do my dog's symptoms mean?
Is your dog lethargic, coughing or scratching more than usual? These symptoms are quite common, but they can be signs of a disease or infection. Keep reading — our Hopkinsville vets will walk you through five serious, but common, illnesses, and what you should do if your pet is experiencing them.
5 Common Dog Illnesses & Symptoms
Here are just a few details on 5 of the most common dog illnesses we see at our veterinary clinic:
Parvovirus is a highly contagious, extremely serious viral disease that can threaten your dog's life. Common symptoms include severe vomiting, lethargy, dehydration and a lack of appetite, and bloody diarrhea.
This illness can spread to any animal, person or even object that touches an infected dog's feces. The most important step in prevention is to make sure your dog is vaccinated for parvovirus.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, you will need to contact your vet immediately. Parvovirus can be fatal.
Diabetes is as complex for your dog as it is for humans. The exact cause is unknown and there are a variety of symptoms, including lethargy and dehydration.
Type I diabetes is considered the most common form for dogs and requires your pet to undergo insulin therapy to survive.
Luckily, this illness is considered to be a manageable disorder once diagnosed — but untreated, diabetes can lead to additional health problems, like cataracts, coma and even death.
If you suspect diabetes in your dog, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis.
Unlike heartworm, ringworm isn't caused by a worm or another parasite — it's a fungus, and it's highly contagious.
This illness can cause skin lesions or patchy bald spots, but a dog can also carry the fungus without showing any symptoms whatsoever.
Ringworm can spread quickly to other animals and even infect humans. Bring your pet in to see the vet if they are showing any of these symptoms.
4. Ear Infections
A common health problem for dogs, ear infections can be caused by everything from allergies to ear mites and bacteria. Typical symptoms can include repeated scratching, ear odor and a lack of balance.
While in most cases, your vet will be able to quickly clear up the infection through cleaning and medication, serious chronic infections can ultimately require surgery. One of the most common symptoms — head shaking — can also be so forceful that it can rupture vessels within the ear.
If your dog is shaking their head more frequently or violently than normal, you should make an appointment for a check-up. Your vet will be able to determine if treatment is necessary.
5. Kennel Cough
Similar to a chest cold in humans, this disease occurs when respiratory infections cause inflammation to your dog's windpipe and voice box. Dogs with kennel cough will have a dry, hacking cough that can sometimes bring up a foamy phlegm or nasal discharge.
Kennel cough often clears up on its own, but is another illness that is very contagious for other dogs. If you think your pet has kennel cough, you should immediately isolate him or her from other dogs and call your vet.
Dog Illness Symptom Checker
While it would be nice if our pets could tell us when they don't feel well, their inability to speak means it's up to us to notice whenever they seem a little under the weather or are behaving unusually. Although this list does not cover all symptoms of illness in dogs, it may help you to spot the signs when your dog isn't feeling well.
Symptoms of serious illness in dogs can include:
- Uncharacteristic changes in personality such as sudden aggression, short fuse, or lack of interest in play
- Rapid weight loss
- Constipation (could indicate an obstruction which is an emergency situation)
- Accidents in the house when your dog has always been well trained
- Repeated bouts of diarrhea
- Repeated bouts of vomiting
- Breathing difficulties including coughing, congestion, wheezing, or uncharacteristic snoring
- Bluish tinge to the lips, tongue and mouth
- Lack of appetite
- Relentless itching, scratching, licking or pawing at a particular spot on their body
- Pawing at eyes
- Hiding, resisting being touched
- Tail tucked and ears down
If your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above, or behaving in a manner that gives you cause for concern, it's time to call your vet. When it comes to your dog's health it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Catching and treating a condition in the earliest stages could save you money in the long run and save your dog from having to deal with a condition that has become more advanced.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.