Dog owners, who recognize early signs and symptoms of illness or pain in their dogs, will not only relieve their loved one’s suffering but may also be able to save themselves an expensive trip to veterinarian. Not only is it important to recognize these signs early to relieve pain and suffering, but it is much more effective to treat an illness when it is detected early.
The dog owner should keep an accurate and detailed account of their dog’s symptoms to help veterinarian correctly diagnose and effectively treat dog’s illness or condition. Most canine illnesses are detected through a combination of various signs and symptoms:
Temperature, Respiratory Rate and Heart Rate
A newborn puppy will have a temperature of 94-97º F. which will eventually reach normal adult body temperature of 101.5º F. at age of 4 weeks old. Take care when trying to take your dog or puppies temperature as thermometer can easily be broken off in canine’s rectum. Also any form of excitement can cause temperature to rise by 2-3º when dog is actually in normal health. If your dog’s temperature reaches 105º or above OR 96º or below please take him/her to emergency vet immediately!
An adult dog will have a respiratory rate of 15-20 breaths per minute (depending on such variables as size and weight) and a heart rate of 80-120 beats per minute. You can feel for your dog’s heartbeat by placing your hand on his/her lower ribcage just behind elbow. Don’t be alarmed if heartbeat seems irregular compared to a human’s heartbeat, it is irregular in many dogs. Have your vet check it out and get used to how it feels when it is normal.
Any behavior changes that are not associated with a change in household atmosphere, such as jealousy over a new pet or child may be an indication of an illness. Signs of behavioral changes may be:
If your dog shows any of these signs, he/she needs to be kept under close watch for a few hours, or even a few days, until positive signs develop or he/she has returned to normal. Do not try to exercise dog or put him/her in any situation that may cause stress. Most veterinarians will want for you to keep track of when symptoms first appeared, whether they are getting better or worse, and also whether symptoms are intermittent, continuous, or increasing in frequency.
Dogs that are in pain will likely indicate that they are suffering by giving you clues as to where area of discomfort is. For instance, a dog that has abdominal pain will continually glance toward their belly, bite or lick area, and will not want to leave his/her bed. The dog may stand hunched over, or take ‘prayer position’ which is when a dog gets down on it’s forelegs with hind legs still standing, because of pain in her abdomen area.