Pet parents often wonder when to take a dog to a vet. Some conditions resolve on their own, while others need immediate care. Read on for signs you need a vet.There are approximately 89.7 million dogs owned throughout the United States.
Are you a first-time dog owner? If you are, you might be a bit confused about when you need to take your dog to see a doctor, especially if they’re getting older and are starting to experience more health problems.
If you’re in this boat right now, keep reading. Listed below are seven signs to watch out for as a dog owner. If you’re aware of these signs, it’ll be easier for you to know when to take a dog to a vet.
- Eating Habits Change
If your dog skips a meal on occasion, that’s usually not a cause for concern. If he or she stops eating for more than a couple of days, that’s when you ought to be worried. Irregularities in their eating patterns could be an indicator of a variety of problems, from digestive distress to more life-threatening conditions.
You should also be on the lookout for other changes in eating habits. For example, if your dog starts digging through the trash looking for food when they normally don’t behave in that way, that’s a red flag.
- Excessive Thirst
When it’s hot outside, your dog might drink a little more water than they used to. However, if their thirst seems excessive and not related to changes in outdoor temperature, you may need to take them to see the vet.
Excessive thirst could be a sign of diabetes or potential kidney disease. The sooner you catch this issue and report it to the vet, the better. Pay attention to how often you’re refilling your dog’s water bowl, as well as how often they’re urinating.
- Changes in Coat
If a dog is experiencing poor health, you’ll likely notice changes in their coat. For example, their fur might become dry or brittle-feeling. They may start to experience fur loss as well.
When your dog’s coat starts to change for the worse, they could be dealing with allergies or skin diseases. It could also be an indicator that they’re not reacting well to their food and need to switch to an option that contains more nutrients.
As dogs get older, they tend to become a bit slower and need a little more sleep. If your dog seems extra lethargic, though, and is sleep much more than usual, that can indicate a more serious health problem.
Remember, too, that lethargy is about more than your dog sleeping more often. A lethargic dog won’t have an interest in playing or going for walks, either. If your dog sleeps a little more but still jumps up and is eager to go outside or play with you, they’re probably doing okay.
Occasional vomiting isn’t a huge deal for dogs. If it happens on a frequent basis, though, that’s a sign that something isn’t right.
Frequent vomiting, if left untreated, can lead to dehydration and diarrhea (which can further dehydrate your dog), so you need to take it seriously.
Take your dog to the vet if you notice that they are vomiting frequently or vomiting several times in a row. You should also take them to the vet if they’re vomiting blood.
All of these can be signs of serious health problems that your vet will need to address to keep your dog healthy and possibly even save its life.
- Stool Abnormalities
Pay attention to your dog’s stool, too. Abnormalities can be a sign of digestive issues, nutrient deficiencies, and other health problems.
If their stool is dry and hard, that could be a sign of dehydration or poor digestion. Check for the presence of worms in their stool, and look out for blood or mucus as well.
If they have diarrhea that lasts longer than 24 hours, that can also be a sign that you need to call their vet.
- Breathing Difficulties
Be on the lookout for breathing difficulties or abnormalities in your dog as well. For example, if they seem to have trouble catching their breath, you ought to take them to the vet right away.
Pay attention to the sound of their breath, too. If you hear strange noises when they breathe, that’s a sign that they need veterinary care. Excessive panting, especially when it’s coupled with restless behavior, can be a bad sign, too.
Choosing the Right Vet for Your Dog
If you don’t already have a go-to vet for your dog, now is the time to find one. Your dog might seem to be in good health, but you never know when they’ll start to exhibit the signs listed above.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting a vet to care for your dog:
- Check out their website to learn the basics (location, rates, availability, etc.)
- Ask for recommendations or referrals from other dog owners
- Read online reviews from past and current clients
- Learn about the vet’s credentials
- Arrange an appointment to meet the vet and see how they handle your dog
- Check out the office during your visit and consider its cleanliness, how organized it is, and the politeness of the staff
Remember to take your time when making a decision. Having a good vet in your corner is essential as a dog owner.
Not only will they work hard to keep your dog healthy long-term, but they can also help you through the process of grieving the loss of a pet when the time comes to have your dog put down.
You Know When to Take a Dog to a Vet: Now What?
Now that you know more about the biggest health-related red flags for dogs, it’ll be easier for you to decide when to take a dog to a vet, especially as they age.
Keep this information in mind even your dog seems to be in perfect health now. When they get older, you’ll be glad you know which signs to watch out for.
Don’t forget to visit the other dog-related posts on our site today, too. We’ve got lots of helpful resources to teach dog owners everything they need to know.