It can be expensive to take your dog to the vet, but sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. For the best care, your pet should see their veterinarian for routine checks, shots, and medical emergencies. But when does your canine need to make these visits? We will offer some tips about when your dog should see the vet, and what symptoms to look out for.
1. Going to the vet for a cough
Coughs aren’t usually something to be concerned about. After all, just like people, dogs can develop allergies and other minor conditions. Still, there are times when a cough can be cause for concern. Coughing can be a sign of
Your pet should see the vet if they:
Have a cough that lasts longer than 2-3days
Have a cough that sounds deep or moist
It disturbs their sleep or way of life
It is accompanied by pain or other symptoms
Discharge like blood or mucus being hacked up
2. Going to the vet for diarrhea
Diarrhea can be caused by the change of food, the consumption of inedible objects, upset stomachs, or treats that do not agree with them. But there are times when it becomes much more serious. Diarrhea can be a symptom of Worms, Gastrointestinal Issues,
A few things to watch out for are:
Blood in stool
Runny stool that lasts longer than 2 days
Diarrhea accompanied by other symptoms
Black or tarry looking stool
Drooling or lip-smacking
3. Going to the vet for vomiting
When a dog vomits, it’s usually due to a stomach upset. There is either something internally wrong, or he ate something he wasn’t supposed to. Vomiting can be an indication of liver/kidney failure, bloat, parasites, parvovirus, ingestion of toxic substances, intestinal blockage, pancreatitis, and much more.
A few signs to watch out for are as follows:
Blood in vomit
Vomiting that lasts for more than 24 hours or vomits multiple times in 1 day
Other symptoms accompanied by vomiting
Refusal to drink water
4. Other symptoms to watch for
A few other things to monitor with your pet are:
Amount of sleep
Change in stools
Change in appetite
Refusal to take in water
Pain or discomfort
Change in behavior
Cloudy or red eyes
Scooting butt on floor
Hard, swollen abdomen
If there is any change to your dog's everyday behavior, it is always best to consult their veterinarian. After all, you know your pet better than anyone else. If something seems or feels off, then it’s better to be safe than sorry. A trip to the vet can be life-saving.
5. Vet or ER?
We know how expensive emergency visits can be. But sometimes we have no choice in the matter. For example- It’s 3 a.m. on a Saturday and all of a sudden your dog is throwing up, shaking, and unable to stand. What do you do? Waiting to see his regular physician would be a grave mistake. Your only other option is to get them to the emergency vet ASAP. But how do you know when their medical condition warrants a trip to the ER?
Well, our first piece of advice is this: ‘When in doubt, take them in.’ It isn’t worth the suffering or potentially fatal outcome of your furry friend to try and wait. It won’t do anyone any good. If money is the issue, we urge you to consider applying for CareCredit or to even try and find a clinic that takes donations over the phone. These have saved countless pets from unfortunate circumstances. If you’re teetering back and forth on whether your pooch should be seen, here are a few tips to help you make a decision:
Loss of consciousness
Loss of bowel/bladder control
Signs of pain/discomfort
Refusal to eat or drink
Any other symptom you are concerned about
Remember, it is still always best to take them in immediately if you are unsure of their condition. We aren’t vets, and this information is strictly to help you make a more informed decision.
6. Regularly scheduled appointments
Even when your pet isn’t sick, it is important to take them in for yearly visits. This is the time the vet will perform wellness checks, and keep them up to date on vaccines. Their shots are especially important to keep up with, as it prevents several debilitating ailments and fatal diseases such as rabies, parvo, and distemper. It is also a good opportunity to stock up on heartworm pills for the year and get your dog tested if you have missed any months of medication. So, how often should you take your dog to the vet? These appointments should be made at least once a year, and more for puppies or if there is reason to go back.
7. Puppy care vs. Dog care
Both are equally important, though puppies will need to see the vet quite a bit more than healthy, adult dogs. This is mostly due to keeping them up to date on vaccinations, which is more frequent in pups. Puppies need a set of three shots, starting between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks, each done over 3-4 weeks apart. These shots will include protection against parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and the final round will include a year’s worth of protection against rabies. Once your puppy has gotten all three rounds of shots, they are better protected until the year is up, and then they will get a second round of boosters. After this, they should only have to go in every 1-3 years for vaccine renewal. Optional, though recommended shots include: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease.
8. Common ailments in canines
There are some conditions that our pets are more likely to get than others. A few of these are:
Some of these conditions are very serious and can be fatal if left untreated. Vet care is necessary for all the items listed above, as well as any other symptoms you find unusual or alarming. It is also worth noting that some breeds of dogs are more likely to inherit some disorders than others, such as hip dysplasia, dislocations, dermatitis, hyperthyroidism, and many more. These health issues should be diagnosed and treated by the vet. Obtaining the medical records of your dog’s parents is the best way to assure your new pet does not have an increased risk of inherited disorders or ailments.
9. Dogs with injuries
When a dog develops an injury, that is cause for a trip to the vet. These can include:
Wounds that do not stop bleeding after several minutes of applied pressure
Large or deep cuts
Unable to walk or stand
Pain or discomfort
Broken or visible bones
Change in behavior
10. Flea Control
Fleas and other pests are a plague to our canine companions. Trips to the vet are key in obtaining preventatives for these invasive insects. Another thing to note is that flea allergies are quite common in dogs. You may notice them scratching, biting, licking their paws, redness around the eyes, or sneezing. This causes the dog a lot of discomfort, and a shot of steroids may be given to ease the itching.
11. Food Allergies
This is another common allergy among dogs that may warrant a trip to the vet. They may have diarrhea, vomiting, gas, stomach upset, and other symptoms due to an allergy in their dog food. The vet can help assess the allergen and give you a list of proper foods to give your pet based on their diet restrictions.
12. Senior dogs
Senior dogs should be given an exam at least every six months. This is due to the ailments hat come along with old age. If your dog is diagnosed with a medical condition, he will have to go in more frequently to keep up with vitals and medications. It is very important that your senior dog gets the proper care in order to live a longer, happier life.
13. Most common reasons dogs go to the vet
Other than routine care, the most common causes of dog’s needing vet attention are ear infections, stomach upset, urinary tract infections, and skin conditions. Ear infections are noticeable because of their foul smell, waxy discharge, and general pain in the area. UTI’s are often accompanied by foul smelling urine, frequent urge to urinate, pain or discomfort when urinating, accidents, fever, or licking around the area. For stomach upset, watch for signs of discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite or energy. Skin conditions are easily recognizable by loss of hair, scabs, licking or scratching of the skin or feet, red bumps, discoloration, and odor. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s best to take them in for treatment.
14. Heat exhaustion/ Hypothermia
The elements are just ashazardous to our canines as they are to us. In fact, heat stroke and hypothermia are as common in pets as their owners. Signs your dog may be suffering from heat stroke are:
Panting, which increases as heat stroke progresses
Bright red tongue
Very red or pale gums
Fast heart rate
Vomiting and/or diarrhea (May have blood)
Signs of hypothermia include:
Pale or gray gums
Stumbling or coordination issues
Fixed and dilated pupils
Low heart and breathing rates
These are all signs that your pet needs emergency care ASAP.
15. Changes in behavior
Any time you notice a change in your dog’s behavior or routine, it is a good idea to call the vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. For some pets, the changes may be difficult to notice and may require extra care and attention. While for others, you may notice drastic changes in how they act or their eating/sleeping habits. Be attentive to any and all signs that your dog is distressed. As we have stated before, being too careful is better than not being careful enough.
Keep a list of your pet’s medical conditions, along with emergency contact numbers on the fridge and in your wallet for emergency situations. It is also wise to keep their shot records on hand, with the date of when they were administered for easy access and in case of unforeseen circumstances. If your pet has any allergies, it is also important to list them on their emergency list, along with any medications they may need or be taking.
Keeping these documents organized in a file or a personalized pet pocketbook will make it easier for you and those around you to take proper measures when caring for your pet. It will also make it easier for the vet who is there to treat your pet for illness.
We love our pets as part of our family, and we want them to live long and prosperous lives.
This is why veterinary care is essential. They keep our pets running at their optimum level, and prevent future ailments from occurring. Finding the right vet is as easy as Googling clinics and reading reviews, or getting referrals from trusted dog parents. It is okay to check out different vets if you aren’t satisfied with the care your pooch is receiving. When it comes to their health, you can never be too cautious.
We hope these tips have given you a general understanding of emergency situations, and what constitutes a trip to the veterinarian's office. If you take anything away from this article, we hope it’s that you err on the side of caution, and bring them in whenever you have a cause for concern. Their reliance on us for their health is serious but is greatly rewarding to see them grow alongside us in our journey through life.
By: Amber White
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