When to Seek Veterinary Care

We get more calls from adopters about dogs with medical problems than any other type of communication. While we are always glad to have people call when they have a problem and do not know what to do, we feel uncomfortable when it comes to dispensing medical advice over the phone or through emails. First, we are not veterinarians; secondly, we don’t have the dog in front of us to see what exactly is going on, and finally, if we do give advice and it’s not correct, we might be causing more harm than good.

Here are some suggestions for when it would be the best course of action to make an appointment with the vet:

Any loss of appetite that continues for a day or two.
Vomiting and/or diarrhea that continues for more than 24 hours or vomiting and diarrhea at any time in a senior dog.
Rapid shallow breathing, panting, pacing, failed attempts at vomiting, bowing and stretching, looking distressed and a painful and/or bloated abdomen.
A seizure, or continued seizures or any seizure that lasts more than three minutes.
Difficulty breathing.
Swelling anywhere on the body or face; a swollen abdomen.
Lumps on the legs, shoulders and limping.
Limping without other symptoms for more than a day or two with no improvement.
Straining during defecation with diarrhea or little production of stool.
Straining during and after urination, pee accidents in the house, pacing and looking stressed.
Any injury resulting in torn skin or bleeding that cannot be stopped after five minutes.
Any dog with a temperature over 104 degrees or under 100 degrees.
Draining eyes or nose or any bleeding from the nose.
Constant licking of the anal area.
Not wanting to move or walk, moving slowly, difficulty getting back up from a lying position.
Any changes in behavior (like suddenly becoming very needy, growling, etc.).
Excessive water drinking.

To us, there is one common sense approach to this problem: if your dog is not acting normally and you cannot tell what the problem might be, it’s time to call the vet. It’s worth the peace of mind to find out that there might be something simple that can be dealt with easily and if it’s serious, the right treatment can begin when it’s most important (rather than waiting until it’s an emergency).

We hope that this list will provide some information and guidance for when it would be best to seek veterinary care.

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