As vets one comes across all kinds of pet parents. There are the types who hyperventilate at even the slightest little bump on their pet’s body and perceive it as needing immediate medical attention. Then there are those who ignore serious symptoms like fainting and bring the dog in only when there’s a medical crisis. So what are the symptoms to watch out for, which are the significant ones and which are the ones which constitute an emergency? Read on to find out.
Collapse or Fainting: Acute collapse is a sudden loss of strength causing your dog to fall and be unable to rise. Some dogs that suddenly collapse will actually lose consciousness. This is called fainting or syncope. Some dogs recover very quickly and look essentially normal just seconds to minutes after collapsing, whereas others stay in the collapsed state until helped. All the reasons for collapse or fainting are serious and should not be ignored. Take your pet to the vet or emergency hospital immediately.
Breathing Problems: Breathing problems can occur due to respiratory disease, heart disease, metabolic changes due to liver or kidney problems or severe infections. When your dog has trouble breathing, he may not be able to get enough oxygen to his tissues. Additionally, if he has heart failure, he may not be able to pump sufficient blood to his muscles and other tissues. Check to see if your pet’s tongue is pink, blue or muddy brown. If bluish or muddy, it is a very serious symptom and should be evaluated immediately.
Difficulty in urinating: This can include straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, and evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region or turning and looking at the area. Difficulty in urinating may be due to a blockage of the urinary tract due to stones, spasms of the urethra or mucous plugs in male cats (which if left untreated can result in death in as little as 36 hours), urinary tract infections (not so serious), pyometra, diabetes (frequent urination). Make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible when you see this symptom.
Unproductive retching: This symptom, especially when accompanied by pacing and restlessness, could be a sign of gastric dilatation and volvulus, where the stomach twists around itself, trapping gas and causing a bloat. This is more common in deep-chested, large breed dogs. This is a surgical emergency and must be corrected as soon as possible.
Vomiting: This symptom is a sign of several possible diseases, ranging from indigestion, toxicity, pancreatitis to renal failure. If your pet is otherwise comfortable, looks healthy and has a normal urine and stool, you can wait for a day and give him light food and observe him. If he looks visibly uncomfortable, and the vomiting is accompanied by more serious symptoms like panting or drop in urine output or blood in vomit or stool, see your vet immediately.
Not Eating or Loss of Appetite: Again, this is another symptom where you need to use your judgement to decide the urgency of a vet visit. There are many causes of loss of appetite and it is often the first indication of illness. Regardless of the cause, loss of appetite is significant if it lasts 24 hours or more. Young animals less than six months of age are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite. Observe your pet for a day, see the urine colour, stool consistency and breathing pattern and take your pet to the vet if loss of appetite lasts for more than a day.