Sick As a Dog: Is it Time to Take Your Dog to the Vet?

Sick Dog
(Photo credit: mootown)

, like people, occasionally get sick. But just like we don’t go to the doctor for every cold, our dogs don’t need to go the for every little cough. That being said, how do you know when the illness is serious for a trip to the vet? Below is a list of 5 common but serious illnesses to look out for. 

Dog Ate Something Toxic


–          Abnormal colored tongue/gums

–          Swollen and/or painful abdomen

–          Bleeding from nose or mouth

–          Unusual behavior

–          Convulsions, weakness

–          Dilated pupils

–          Violent and/or blooding vomiting and/or


Before you hop in the car, ask yourself if you know or suspect what the dog may have eaten? If you have seen chewed up pieces of the substance or a torn-open bag of something he or she shouldn’t have gotten into, that’s probably the culprit. If so, collect a sample in a plastic bag to show to the vet.

If your dog is having seizures, blacking out, or having a hard breathing, call your vet before getting in the car. Depending on what the dog may have ingested, the vet may advise you to induce vomiting by force-feeding them household hydrogen peroxide. If you can’t reach your vet or hospital, call an animal poison hotline for help.

Once you arrive at the vet, the vet may pump your dog’s stomach or administer activated charcoal to absorb the poison.


Make sure to keep potentially toxic substances out of reach. Also, don’t let your dog out after your lawn has been sprayed with weed killer or similar chemical, as this can get on their paws and then licked off.

If you are unsure about what substances are toxic to your dog, your vet can supply you with a list.

parasite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Intestinal Parasites


–          Coughing

–          Malnutrition, unexplained weight loss


–          Bloody or mucus-covered stool

–          Dull or brittle coat

–          Lack of energy


Parasitic infection, while alarming, is not cause for an emergency. Contact your vet and set up an appointment. Bring a stool sample for identification on the day of the appointment. Based on which parasite(s) have infected your , a dewormer will be administered or prescribed.


Your dog should be on a monthly parasite prevention drug. If not, talk to your vet about which drug would be best for your pet. Make sure it is as broad-spectrum as possible. While you’re at it, make sure your dog is also covered against non-intestinal parasites, such as heartworm.

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)



–          Nervousness/anxiety

–          Solitude

–          Fever

–          Change in disposition

–          Constantly licking bite area


–          Furious Rabies: extreme aggression

–          Paralytic/Dumb Rabies: weakness, loss of coordination, paralysis


If your dog got in a fight or injured by another animal, you should take it to the vet immediately for monitoring. Rabies is spread through contact with infected saliva. Likewise, if your dog starts exhibiting the abovementioned primary symptoms, also take him or her to the vet. Rabies is a fast-moving virus that if not treated soon ends up being fatal.

If your dog was vaccinated against rabies, take a record of that vaccine to show to your vet. That will help them in the treatment process, as rabies in unvaccinated animals is always fatal.

Your dog will be placed into quarantine for a week or two to make sure the does not progress. If it does, it is almost certain to be fatal.


Due to the fatal nature of rabies, making sure your dog is up-to-date on his or her vaccinations is absolutely necessary.

English: parvovirosis in a dog (age 3 month) D...
Parvovirosis in a dog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



–          Lack of energy

–          Severe vomiting

–          Loss of appetite

–          Bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea


Once your dog has contracted the disease, you must take him or her to the vet immediately. Your dog will be put on aggressive life support in order to control the symptoms and support their immune system while they fight off the virus. patients are often in the hospital for 5 to 7 days, which can be considerably expensive.


As with all illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is especially true for parvovirus. The only way to truly prevent parvovirus is to make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations.



–          Sneezing, coughing, thick mucus discharge

associated with

–          Fever, lethargy, vomiting/diarrhea, depression, and/or loss of appetite


If you suspect that your dog has contracted distemper, take him or her to the vet immediately. He or she will be placed on aggressive life support to control the symptoms and support the immune response; however, this does not guarantee your pet’s life.


The only way to truly prevent infection is to stay up-to-date on vaccinations. If you have a puppy or young dog, make sure to get them started on the vaccine as soon as possible, as they are particularly susceptible to distemper.

While not all canine illnesses are dangerous or require veterinary attention, it is important to know which ones do. Be proactive in your dog’s health by staying up-to-date with common canine illnesses in your area through your local Vancouver veterinary hospital.

Author Byline:

Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests. She loves shopping, socializing, writing, and her dog. She recommends talking to Central Animal Emergency Clinic for further information on canine health. You can visit them at

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