So you went and got yourself a dog. Congratulations for investing in a lifelong companion; one that won’t judge you for eating an entire bag of chips for dinner – provided you share a couple, of course. While you’ve likely seen your vet for your new pup’s initial checkup and shots and made a note to see them again next year for an annual physical, you might wonder when else you should see your vet.
It’s natural to be nervous if your dog starts acting strangely. [pullquote]The urge to take them immediately to the vet can be overwhelming if you see something you don’t recognize.[/pullquote] Whether it’s a loss of appetite in your dog, or your normally bouncy pup seeming listless, you don’t want to take chances. But neither do you want to rack up a huge emergency room bill when a simple phone call will work just as well.
Being a first-time dog owner is a great experience. As you and your dog bond, you’ll learn to read its body language and understand what they are trying to tell you. However, there are some symptoms that if you see, require immediate medical attention. Here are three times when you should be taking your dog to the vet immediately.
1. A Distended Abdomen. If your dog’s stomach looks bloated, get them to the vet immediately. While it could be a simple case of them eating too much, it could also be Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV). GDV can kill a dog in a matter of hours if left untreated. When your dog eats too much or they swallow too much air, the bloated stomach can rotate. This twists the intestine and esophagus, trapping the air or food inside and cutting off the stomach’s blood supply.
2. Breathing Problems. If your dog is wheezing or has a strange rasp to its breathing, this needs immediate attention from your vet. Your dog’s breathing problem could be the result of an allergic reaction, some form of pulmonary disease, or having something lodged in their throat. If it is a foreign object, you should never try to remove it yourself; you could push the object farther down your dog’s throat, completely blocking it.
3. Any sort of seizure. If your dog has a seizure, it needs attention right away. If it’s the first time, you should see your vet immediately. There are other signs than just uncontrollable tremors. Your dog may also experience a loss of bladder or bowel control. A seizure can cause your dog to go unconscious. If your puppy has already been diagnosed with epilepsy – a common cause of seizures in dogs – then not every seizure will require a vet visit. However, if your epileptic dog has multiple seizures in a day or a fit lasts longer than a couple of minutes, you should contact your vet right away.
4. Dog in Heat (Bonus). If you notice male dogs are attracted to your girl baby. Check to see if her vulva begins swelling or if she has a small amount of blood-tinged discharge. Your girl may be experiencing the proestrus, which is the first stage of the heat cycle. For your dog to be given extra love and attention during an estrous cycle, you should learn the essentials of dog in heat such as protecting her from boys, paying attention to her energy level, supporting her with pads and blankets, etc. Take your pet to the vet as soon as possible if she has bleeding occasionally.
The longer you have your dog, the more familiar you will be with their mannerisms. If you notice any significant change, you should call your vet to discuss possible causes and treatments. That way you and your new dog can enjoy a long and happy life together.
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