Know Your Pet

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Recognising Signs of Illness in Dogs

Understanding the Basics

One frequently posed question about pet well-being is: how can I discern if my dog is unwell? With pets, unlike humans, we rely primarily on observed signs, as they cannot communicate their ailments directly.

Behavioural Indicators

  • Energy levels: A typically spirited dog turning lethargic is a potential sign.
  • Altered behaviour: Unusual actions like excessive scratching or unusual demeanour can be concerning.
  • Appetite changes: A sudden lack of interest in food or an unusually heightened hunger.
  • Uncharacteristic destruction: Yet, remember that playful puppies or newly adopted dogs might just be settling in.

General Examination Techniques

Regardless of the dog's size or breed, certain principles of assessment remain consistent. Such methods can also be applied to other pets. A recommended approach is a systematic check, commencing from the head and progressing downwards.

Head-to-Tail Examination

  1. Head: Ensure the dog appears alert and that drooling and panting, which are natural for dogs, are regular.
  2. Oral health: Bad breath can hint at dental issues or dietary concerns. Examine teeth and gums for irregularities.
  3. Nose: Although a cold nose is typical, a warm nose isn't necessarily a red flag. It's just an additional observation.
  4. Respiration: Breathing should be consistent and effortless.
  5. Eyes: Look out for unusual discharge or asymmetry. A protective inner eyelid in dogs is normal.
  6. Ears: Signs of distress, excessive scratching, or rubbing might suggest foreign objects or infections.
  7. Body: Feel for unusual growths in older dogs and observe the neck, ensuring collars aren't too tight.
  8. Stomach: Gently press to ascertain any tenderness or discomfort.
  9. Legs: Check for signs of swelling or injury, which could arise from insect bites or other complications.
  10. Rear end: Ensure cleanliness to prevent potential infections or discomfort.
  11. Coat: Especially in long-haired breeds, check for mites or other concerns.

Understanding Your Pet

Recognising ailments in your dog involves distinguishing between their usual and unusual states. Regularly monitor your pet, capturing photos and making notes on your device about their standard condition. This allows for prompt comparisons when something seems amiss.

Seek Expert Advice

If ever in doubt, it's imperative to consult your vet. Their expertise ensures your pet's optimal well-being.