Owning a dog often means dealing with sickness. You don’t need to worry every time your dog is ill, and you don’t need to take your dog to the vet every time you’re worried, but understanding what some common symptoms are telling you means you can be more confident in your decisions about what to do next, and make sure your dog is happier and healthier.
One of the most common complaints you’ll encounter is the upset canine stomach. This can have lots of different causes, and mean lots of different things, some very straightforward, others more serious.
Gastric problems for dogs often stem from something they’ve eaten – be it spoiled food, plants, human food that’s not suitable for dogs or even a new, unfamiliar dog food. These can lead to what we would understand as food poisoning (bacteria in spoiled or uncooked food), actual poisoning (caused when they eat something with toxic chemicals in it), physical damage (for example from chewing cooked chicken bones, which they can choke on or splinter and pierce their gut lining) or simply a reaction against the unwelcome and unfamiliar.
The key thing to watch for is the duration of the sickness. If you’re telling a friend your dog got diarrhea after eating something in the park then it might be time to call a vet as most ‘ordinary’ gastric problems clear up within a day or two. Longer bouts of illness, even if they don’t have a serious cause, can still leave your dog exhausted and dehydrated, which is why it’s important to seek medical help!
Other concerning symptoms include the loss of appetite, lack of energy and blood in the vomit or stool – all of these should prompt a call to the vet however long your dog’s been unwell.
Signs of Pain
There are all sorts of ways an energetic curious dog can injure themselves, sadly, from falls, to cuts to fights with other dogs. Your dog’s first instinct will be to try and hide any weakness, so if there’s no obvious wound, it might be hard for you to know anything’s wrong.
Be alert for behavioural changes that can show you your dog’s in trouble. A dog in pain might be more withdrawn, shrinking away from your touch or hiding altogether. On the other hand, a dog that is normally more withdrawn might be extra-affectionate, seeking you out to make themselves feel safer. An injured dog might even be more aggressive, compensating for their weakness by being defensive.
If your dog is behaving out of character in a similar way, check it for injuries. Even a small cut and especially a bite is prone to infection so it’s always worth making an appointment at the vet.