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Danger Signs

Unfortunately your dog - just like you - can fall ill, and whilst the more serious problems should be dealt with by your vet, some minor problems like fleas and ticks can be dealt with at home. Learning to interpret the danger signs, and knowing what action to take, can help you decide the best course of action in the event your dog does start feeling under the weather.

It's not always easy to detect illness in your dog, so you'll need to look for a range of subtle signs that may indicate a potential problem. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, don't rely on books or websites for a diagnosis. Contact your vet  immediately.


What to look out for:

  • Diarrhoea
    If your dog has persistent constipation or diarrhoea that lasts for longer than 48 hours, visit your vet, and, if possible, take a fresh stool sample with you.
  • Repeated vomiting, gagging, sneezing or coughing
    Persistent sickness or choking when eating is a concern. Vomiting can be a sign of a developing allergy, or a more serious infection, particularly in older dogs. Kennel cough can also be a serious illness.
  • Refusal to eat for over 24 hours
    For a range of reasons your dog's eating patterns may occasionally become irregular. But if your dog refuses food for a day or more, consult your vet.
  • Excessive thirst or urination
    Unusually excessive thirst and frequent urination is a common sign of illness.
  • Red or swollen gums
    Reddened or swollen gums, particularly when associated with bad breath, are an indication of gum disease. When severe, dogs may lose teeth, drop food from their mouths and suffer weight loss due to difficulty eating.
  • Difficulty urinating
    Look out for yelping when urinating, a hunched back or blood in the urine.
  • Runny eyes or nose
    Sneezing, panting, runny eyes and nose or other flu-like symptoms may be signs of respiratory problems, as are gasping or shortness of breath.
  • Itchy, flaking skin
    Skin condition is a good general indicator of health. Skin should be smooth, and pink or black. Persistent itching and signs of dermatitis could indicate an allergic reaction, particularly to fleabites.
  • Progressive changes in weight
    You should be concerned if your dog appears to lose weight progressively over two to four weeks, or shows a slow but steady weight loss over a longer period. Unexpected weight gain can also indicate a problem.
  • General lethargy, tiredness - just looking unwell
    If for any reason your dog just isn't his or her normal, healthy, active self, it's worth taking a closer look. Like humans, dogs can just look unwell, and even if there are no obvious clues to what's wrong, a trip to the vet is a good idea if symptoms persist.
  • Other diverse signs
    A swollen abdomen, smelly breath (sweet-smelling), heightened sensitivity to light or sound require a visit to the vet.

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