by Buster Boy
Indeed, no one can rival the companionship and emotional fulfillment that the man’s best friend can offer. Although they can’t talk to their owners, dogs have a way to communicate and express their feelings excellently. They can relieve your stress and anxiety when you need it the most, and they fill your heart from the very first meeting. So, it goes without saying that having dogs as pets is a worthwhile life experience.
With all these advantages, dogs deserve your love in return. You can manifest your love for your pets by ensuring that they’re physically and emotionally healthy.
Ways to Practice Excellent Dog Health and Wellness
Before jumping right into pet ownership, you have to understand and reflect on the responsibilities of being a pet owner. Taking care of pets is comparable to raising children, as you’ll have to provide for their basic and specialized needs throughout their life. Do note that when bringing home a new dog, adoption is a better option than purchasing a dog.
Dogs have fundamental health needs that should be sustained consistently. Here are some general tips in maintaining your dog’s excellent health:
- Your dog has certain nutritional requirements depending on their breed, age, and lifestyle. So, if you already have a certain breed at home but have just adopted a different breed, don’t just give your new dog the same diet as the one you have at home. Make sure you read up on what the best diet is for your new pal.
- Never neglect your dog’s pearly whites, especially during the early years. Around 85% in dogs and cats develop signs of dental diseases as early as three years old.
- Give your dog access to clean food and water.
- Allot some playtime with your pal to encourage them to exercise physically and mentally. Aside from good nutritional health, making your dog physically happy has a significant impact on their life.
Signs Your Dog May Have A Serious Health Condition
Initially, you won’t be able to keep up with this health and wellness approach without professional help. Services from animal health professionals are paramount to your dog’s health, so make sure that you find the best veterinarian near your location to allow accessibility and convenience during health emergencies.
Keep in mind, however, that experiencing health conditions once in a while is normal and inevitable throughout your pet’s life. Although some illnesses can be easily resolved or prevented with the help from your vet, you should still be wary of serious health conditions your dog might encounter.
To combat these circumstances, always examine your dog when you can and look out for these 7 danger signs indicating that your dog’s health is at risk:
- Changes in Appetite
Getting food is a canine’s basic instinct. During their waking hours, they know exactly when you’re going to feed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in between for small treats. As they adore food so much, you’ll immediately know that something is wrong with your canine if they show changes in their appetite: either appetite gain or loss.
Monitor your dog’s eating habits regularly once their appetite changes start. Dogs can sometimes lose interest in food or experience stress, but prolonged appetite changes should be a cause for concern. If your canine is showing these specific signs of appetite change for 48 hours, you should immediately visit the vet:
- Refusing to eat at all
- Reduced food intake
- Attempting to eat but can’t finish a meal serving
- Significant increase in food intake
- Sudden weight gain
In healthy dogs, loss or gain or appetite suggests a plethora of health conditions ranging from mild to severe. Typically, these appetite changes are directly associated with viral infections, ingestion of foreign body, digestive upsets, and more.
Moreover, appetite changes, particularly appetite loss, are increasingly common in senior dogs. Due to aging, they’re more likely to develop chronic diseases such as arthritis and joint pain. During these moments, it’s important to offer pain relief for dogs. Even temporary relief from pain can help them stay back on their eating track, but make sure your vet prescribes these medications or remedies.
- Changes in Physical Involvement
Different dog breeds have a certain level of physical activity. While some breeds are lazy couch potatoes, many breeds love to play and get physically involved. If your canine is less active and playful than usual, you’ll immediately know that they’re not feeling well. It’s easier to notice this sign in physically active breeds than the passive ones.
In puppies, it’s difficult to identify if they’re just tired or sick. Since puppies are still on their developmental changes, they need a lot of rest for 15 to 20 hours daily. But, if your puppy is still tired during waking hours, it’s a telltale sign of an underlying health issue.
The most common triggers of lethargy and lack of physical activity in dogs are:
- Poisoning from toxic food
- Metabolic diseases including diabetes, heart problem, hypoglycemia, and liver diseases
- Infection such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, and kennel cough
- Anemia caused by intestinal parasites or flea infection
- Chronic pain, inflammation, or physical trauma
- Hypothyroidism and related hormone problems
- Side effects from medications
With the first two signs, changes in appetite and physical activity, are ambiguous. You can’t jump into conclusions as to why your canine is behaving this way, so it’s best to monitor them for a few days and bring them to the vet for a closer examination.
- Frequent Drinking and Urination
On a daily basis, dogs drink an ounce of fluid and urinate 10 to 20 ml per pound of body weight. Pet owners should always ensure that there’s a specified water bowl for their canines to allow them to drink by themselves. In terms of urination and defecation, they should have a designated potty spot inside or outside the home.
If you have noticed that you tend to refill the water bowl more often, or the potty spot is less wet or always wet, your dog might have issues with their liver, kidney, or adrenal gland. Canines experiencing increased urination might even start wetting outside the potty spot or have bathroom trips at night.
The most obvious cause why your canine is drinking and urinating excessively is their body has low water levels and has to make up the losses through drinking. Among several diseases connected to these symptoms, the most prevalent reasons are:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Hypercalcemia or high blood calcium
- Kidney disease
- Pyometra (in females)
- Drooling and Bad Breath
Your canine’s oral and dental health is as important as yours. Experiencing bad breath, particularly in mornings, is nothing to worry about. However, it should be a troubling indication if your dog’s bad breath appears to be more than just morning breath, which is commonly accompanied by drooling.
A common and harmless case of bad breath or halitosis is after your canine has accidentally eaten a smelly or rotten food, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea. This case of bad breath can be resolved by brushing your dog’s teeth to eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
Extreme and recurring bad breath in canines should be brought to the vet’s assessment. Upon examining the mouth and teeth, here are top health conditions that can be associated with drooling and bad breath which can be more than about dental issues:
- Serious dental diseases like gingivitis
- Metabolic diseases such as kidney failure and diabetes
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Respiratory tract diseases including nasal tumors, nasal infections, and sinusitis
- Mouth infections
- Coughing and Sneezing
Colder seasons also indicate the start of flu seasons in humans. They usually occur in the fall and winter, where people are susceptible to influenza viruses. Unfortunately, canines aren’t safe from flu with coughing, sneezing, and fever. When your dog has canine influenza, common symptoms that will occur aside from those mentioned are poor appetite and lethargy.
Canine influenza is relatively easier to manage. Your vet can prescribe NSAIDs and administer fluids to combat dehydration. However, if your canine’s coughing persists without any signs of influenza, the possible underlying conditions are:
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Kennel cough
- Canine distemper
- Airway obstruction
- Environmental allergens
- Fungal and parasitic infections
- Dry, Itchy, and Bumpy Skin
Your furry canine’s skin and coat can mirror their overall health condition. Since health symptoms demonstrated on the skin can be recognized immediately, you can resolve them before it gets worse. If your dog is constantly licking and scratching, examining the area in question can pinpoint a spectrum of skin diseases and other hidden health conditions.
Initially, your dog might be affected by environmental allergens, causing itchiness and irritation. As your dog proceeds to lick and scratch the affected areas, their nails might bring bacterial infections, yielding to more serious skin conditions.
Once you notice the following indications on your canine’s skin and coat, bring them to your vet immediately to prevent disease progression and contamination of your home:
- Dry skin
- Skin sores
- Unusual redness
- Hair loss
Commonly, these symptoms are triggered by skin issues such as yeast infections, dermatitis, folliculitis, seborrhea, ringworm, alopecia, and more. But various whole-body disorders can also bring these indications into the skin. For instance, dermatitis is often associated with organ issues like kidney, pancreas, and liver disorders. Also, hypothyroidism can lessen hair growth and make the skin dry and scaly.
- Foul-Smelling Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal health in female canines is as essential as other aspects of their health. If your female dog hasn’t been spayed, their vulva’s appearance can dramatically change during their monthly cycle. For example, the vulva becomes swollen when the dog is in heat, followed by a bloody discharge. After a week or two, the vulva returns to its original appearance.
On another end, discharging foul-smelling blood, pus, or mucus isn’t part of a canine’s normal cycle. In these cases, your canine can be suffering from a vaginal infection or vaginitis. Other symptoms of vaginitis are:
- Repeated licking of vulva
- Frequent urination
- Male canines attempt to mate despite the female’s lack of interest (not in heat)
- Discomfort during urination
- Rubbing of hind against the ground
A more life-threatening condition known as pyometra can also be the reason behind this pungent discharge. Pyometra is characterized by a bacterial infection in the uterus and requires immediate and specialized medical attention.
Since an organism’s biological system are connected to one another, it’s not recommended to assume any recurring health symptoms. If the symptoms discussed above are occurring with your canine, treating them yourself with home remedies may only do more harm than good. Visit your veterinarian regularly and during these health emergencies to identify underlying conditions early, not only when things take a turn for the worse.