Oh, how we wish our furry companions could talk! Then, we’d know if they were feeling unwell or why they do some of the most bizarre things that they do (like staring at us while they poop). But while our pets are unable to communicate with us in a way that we can easily comprehend, they have a way of expressing themselves with their behaviour and body language that speaks volumes. As long as we remain observant, we will surely be able to pick up on the subtle changes in their personality and actions that indicate if something is amiss!
Sometimes our dogs are less energetic than usual, or they may even exhibit out-of-the-ordinary behaviours. This may be nothing at all, but it could also be a sign of a severe health issue. Educating yourself in the signs that indicate all is not right with your dog can mean the difference between life and death.
Bloat: If your dog’s belly starts to swell for no apparent reason, alongside symptoms like lethargy, vomiting and excessive salivating, this could be an indication that he is suffering from bloat, a condition in which the abdomen is filled with so much gas that it becomes very taut. If you suspect that your dog has a case of bloat, take him to the vet immediately. This is a very serious condition as it can impede blood circulation and reduce the working blood volume in your dog’s body, sending him into shock.
Fainting: Often related to heart disease, fainting can also occur in moments of heightened emotional stress or excitement which causes the heart to beat very fast for a short time, leading to a temporary state of hypertension. Fainting can also be caused by low glucose levels in the blood, which is often a result of strenuous exercise. Either way, if your dog faints, take him to the vet as soon as you can.
Falling: When a dog falls over or collapses suddenly, there are a great many causes, such as vestibular syndrome, ear infection and stroke, just to name a few. These are all dangerous and can even be life-threatening when left untreated. Do give your vet a call to book an appointment if you notice your dog falling over. Especially for an ear infection, if symptoms are spotted early on, it can be very treatable and cured with a course of antibiotics.
Heatstroke is a common ailment for dogs, especially in hot and humid climates like Singapore. It is more prevalent in dogs with thick fur and short noses and can come on very rapidly even if your dog has not been outside in the heat for a prolonged period of time such as when your dog is overly excited or has exercised too much. Often, heatstroke is caused by excessive or vigorous exercise during hot temperatures, being left in a car with insufficient ventilation, being exposed to a hairdryer for too long and being out in the sun for a prolonged period of time without shade or water. This condition is also more prevalent in dogs with thick fur and short noses.
Here are some symptoms of heatstroke: Heavy panting Glazed eyes Rapid pulse Bright red gums Unsteadiness Vomiting
If your dog shows any of the above signs, move him to a shady spot and pour cool water all over his body and then take him to the vet immediately.
Shock: A dog can suffer from four different types of shock: hypovolemic, cardiac, neurogenic or septic. All four exhibit similar symptoms including:
Pale mucous membranes (inside of the mouth, gums, eyes, etc.)
Tangible loss of heat to the extremities, particularly the ears.
The most common type of shock is hypovolemic, which occurs when there is not enough blood circulating throughout the body. This can be caused by a major loss of blood (internal or external bleeding) or poor circulation. Going down the list of the other three types of shock, cardiac shock occurs when the heart cannot pump blood fast enough, neurogenic shock (although rare) is caused by massive brain or spinal cord injury, and lastly, septic shock occurs when an infection has reached the bloodstream.
It is important that we keep a lookout for any unusual indication or behaviour that our pets might be unwell. If your pet exhibits any of the above symptoms or experiences any type of injury that can cause shock, take him to the vet immediately. The sooner you’re able to spot these abnormalities, the higher the chances your dog will make a full recovery!