Diagnosing dog health problems at home

Dogs are no different from humans in the way their bodies respond to disease and changes in their environment. When exposed to contaminated food, extreme cold, or infectious disease they can get sick. Dog illness symptoms can usually be diagnosed by changes in behaviors. Weight loss is also an indicator that something is wrong. Although it may be something minor, anytime you notice your dog losing weight, it’s best to take them to a vet and let them deal with this problem. Since weigh loss could be a sign of a serious problem, don’t wait long to make an vet appointment if you notice a sudden reduction in weight.

Dog illnesses can be separated into two different categories; 1) chronic dog illnesses like skin rashes and dog allergies which can be easily treated; and 2) acute illnesses that are life threatening like poisoning, Parvo or heatworms, which you can’t do much about and require veterinary assistance as quickly as possible. Loss of appetite is another dog illness symptom. If your dog suddenly stops eating, it may be a sign your dog is in substantial pain. Dogs are a lot like people in terms of illnesses. Well, more like toddlers because they can’t really explain what’s wrong. So that’s the way you need to treat them.

Just like people, dogs can suffer from a fever. A fever is usually a sure indicator that there is some type of internal body malfunction. If this symptom is left untreated, it can turn into a high fever and become life threatening. A fever is also a key indicator that your dog may have Parvo. A dog infected with this disease will also show signs of nausea, malnutrition and dehydration. If these signs are present, you need to get them to a vet or pet hospital as soon as possible. Once the disease has been treated and your dog is feeling better, you will still need to administer antibiotics to help prevent other infections. Parvo wrecks the immune system for several weeks.

Food or other dog allergies are another common problem dog owners have to deal with. Chronic scratching is a sure indicator that allergies are present. Dogs with food allergies will scratch year round, while dogs with other types of allergies, like grass and tree pollen, will usually only start scratching during certain seasons. Some dog will even display symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss if the allergies are severe. Food allergies are slow to develop because a dog’s body must be exposed to the allergen long enough to build up a sufficient number of antibodies to trigger the dog’s symptoms. With food allergies, most dogs will have been eating the offending diet for months or years before your dog’s symptoms start to appear.

If your dog is over 7 years old and you see it limping, especially after climbing stairs or sleeping, it might be a symptom of arthritis. The AKC recommends your dog have a comprehensive examination once every year to check for liver, kidney or heart problems. Older dogs also are likely to develop vision and hearing problems and this will be discovered during an annual exam.

An yes, dogs can also have heart attacks. The are several various cardiac and pulmonary problems that can cause major heart attacks in dogs. If a heart attack is detected early, the problem can be treated and the dog can live a normal healthy life. Heart attacks should be a special concern for owners whose dogs are obese or very old.

You should always keep an accurate vaccination history of your dog in case treatment by a professional is ever needed. Remember, our dog’s health depends on us.