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Your dog can't tell you when he's sick, but he can give you clues. You are your dog's most important health care provider, since you see him every day and decide when he needs to see the veterinarian. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if your dog might be ill.
A normal temperature is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, though it's important to keep in mind that your dog can be sick without running a fever. If your dog's temperature falls outside this range, call your veterinarian for advice.
In general, a healthy dog's gums should be pink, and if you press on them with your thumb, they should turn white and return to pink within two seconds after lifting your thumb. Gums that appear to be paler than normal or bluish gray can indicate a medical problem that needs attention.
Lethargy is a common sign of illness. When your dog doesn't feel well, he may have a decreased energy level. Any behavior that is unusual for your dog, such as hiding, listlessness or pacing, difficulty breathing, or trouble walking, merits a call to your veterinarian.
Dogs who don't feel well often don't want to eat. Some illnesses, however, can cause increased appetite, so don't ignore your suddenly ravenous dog. Increased thirst and urination may be signs of a number of conditions, including kidney disease or diabetes. Frequent, sudden attempts to urinate, especially if only small amounts are produced or if accompanied by signs of pain or blood, may indicate a urinary tract infection or stones. Inability to urinate is a life-threatening emergency.
Occasional vomiting is not always a cause for worry, but consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog vomits foreign materials (such as pieces of a bone) or blood, has accompanying fever or pain, tries to vomit but nothing comes up, or if the vomiting lasts more than a few hours. Prolonged vomiting can cause dehydration.
There are many reasons your dog may have diarrhea. It often occurs when a dog eats something that's not part of his normal diet, but many illnesses can cause diarrhea as well. Watery diarrhea; diarrhea with blood; or diarrhea accompanied by vomiting, fever or other signs of illness warrants a call to the veterinarian. Prolonged diarrhea can cause dehydration.
Coughing can signal a number of different problems. If your dog is coughing frequently or violently, has difficulty breathing or abnormally bluish gums, he should see his veterinarian immediately.
Remember, when in doubt, call your veterinarian for advice.
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