Doctors say knowing these 11 symptoms could save your dog's life

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One of the best ways to spot serious medical problems is by paying attention to what is going on inside your body. Unfortunately, our pets are not able to tell us when something is wrong inside of their bodies — or are they?

Just in the same way that we should be on the lookout for certain symptoms in our own bodies, there are also signs and symptoms that we can observe in our dogs that let us know when something is very wrong.

Veterinary specialist Dr. Justine Lee writes, "Playing doctor to your pets can be dangerous," and points out that there are many cases "when you must ask a vet."

But how are we supposed to know when we should be concerned enough with our dog's symptoms to take him or her to the vet?

While this list should never take the place of medical advice, this is an exclusive look into the signs and symptoms that indicate something major might be wrong.

The most important thing to do when you observe these symptoms in your dog is to get them medical attention. After all, your pet can't use words to tell you what's wrong, so it is your job to make sure you get them to someone who can.

This is some of the most important information I've seen in years, and I am so glad I know this!


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Unexplained weight loss in your dog can be a sign of a serious problem that requires a trip to the vet.

Dr. Bari Spielman writes that there could be quite a few serious causes of weight loss in your dog, such as metabolic disorders, neuromuscular diseases, cancer, and heart disease. The loss of weight may also come from dietary causes including a loss of appetite.

While losing a pound here or there shouldn't be a cause for alarm, if your dog loses 10 percent of their normal body weight, it is a sign that there may be a bigger underlying problem, and a trip to the doctor is definitely warranted.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

A significant and prolonged fever in your dog is a sign that something significant may be going on inside their body.

Dr. Karen Becker writes, "If your dog's temperature spikes, it usually means his body is fighting an infection. The normal temperature in dogs is 100.5 to 102.5°F. If your pet feels warm to you and his temperature is higher than normal, make an appointment with your veterinarian."

A fever is a sign that your dog could be fighting off something serious. Especially if it accompanies other symptoms, you should take your dog in to see a doctor.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Diarrhea or blood in your dog's stool should indicate that something might not be right internally.

Dr. Krista Vernaleken writes, "Diarrhea can cause dehydration and can be life threatening to small dogs." She goes on to say that you should take your dog to the vet if they have blood in their stool. This could be a sign of an ulcer, a parasite, or even colitis and anal gland conditions.

Blood should always mean a trip to the vet, and diarrhea accompanied by any of these symptoms should certainly set off a red flag.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Persistent coughing in dogs is never a normal thing.

Dr. Justine Lee writes, "Dogs don't get asthma, so coughing could signal bronchitis, pneumonia, a heart problem, or tracheal collapse (when weak cartilage in the airway hinders breathing). Treatments include anti-inflammatories and surgery."

An infrequent cough shouldn't necessarily be cause for alarm. However, all pets who experience a persistent cough should be checked out by a vet to rule out some of the more serious possible causes.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Extreme fatigue and fainting are both symptoms that should be taken very seriously.

Dr. Debra Primovic writes, "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. See your veterinarian immediately."

If your dog appears to be abnormally tired, a trip to the vet could be crucial in catching the potential illnesses, which include cancer, kidney disease, and pancreatitis.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

A distended belly is when there is abnormal swelling of the stomach area. This should always be taken very seriously.

Dr. Krista Vernaleken says that many of the potential causes of a distended abdomen could be life-threatening. This swelling could be a sign of some kind of hormonal disease, or even internal bleeding.

Not only could this distention be a sign of disease, but the swelling could put pressure on the chest cavity, making it difficult for your dog to breathe. Always seek medical advice when you notice this symptom.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

There are many reasons why your dog might be making frequent failed attempts to urinate, but some of them certainly are serious enough to warrant a trip to the vet.

Dr. Justine Lee writes, "If you own a male dog, [these] symptoms can mean bladder stones or other obstructions. Your vet can remove the blockage or operate if needed."

Another thing to keep an eye on is blood in the urine. This could be a sign of those same bladder stones, as well as cancer or an infection. If you observe blood, a trip to the vet is absolutely necessary.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Just as with people, difficulty breathing is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention.

Dr. Ernest E. Ward, Jr. writes that if your dog is "panting more than normal, fatigues easily, or suddenly has loud or noisy breathing, it should be examined by your veterinarian immediately. Heart and lung disease, infections, obstructions, and more can cause sudden breathing problems."

Difficulty breathing can lead to not enough oxygen reaching your dog's tissue and major organs, and heart failure is certainly a possible result.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Redness in the whites of your dog's eyes could be a sign of a much bigger problem.

Dr. Karen Becker writes, "If the white area of your dog's eye turns bright red, it's a sign of inflammation or infection that signals one of several diseases. Certain disorders of the eye can lead to blindness, so any significant change in the appearance of your dog's eyes should be investigated."

Besides an eye infection, possible causes could be glaucoma or an eye socket disorder. It is crucial that a veterinarian takes a look at your dog's eyes to determine what is wrong.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Restless behavior in your dog could be their way of telling you that something is wrong. This restlessness could include whining, looking scared, shaking, or pacing.

Dr. Krista Vernaleken writes, "These symptoms could be a sign of some very serious illness." While the restlessness itself isn't necessarily caused by the disease, it can be your dog's way of indicating that they don't feel like their normal selves. This can create a sense of anxiety in them.

Whether your dog is in pain or just general discomfort, you will want to have a vet check them out to find the cause.


LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Vomiting might be something you've grown accustomed to as a pet owner. In fact, occasional vomiting shouldn't be a large cause for concern. But if it becomes much more frequent, like three or more times per day, it is time for a trip to the vet.

Dr. Ernest E. Ward, Jr. writes, "Don't take a chance that your pet is suffering from intestinal obstruction, infection, pancreatitis, liver or kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, or worse. The sooner your pet is diagnosed and treated, the better (and less costly) the treatment."

Again, if frequent vomiting is present, particularly when accompanied by other symptoms, it is best to seek medical advice.

Knowing the different symptoms that require a trip to the vet should not be a cause for alarm. But it is very important to keep an eye out for any of these. Your loving dog is depending on you to do so.

Please SHARE this vital information about your dog's health with friends and family!

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