Your dog might know exactly what you’re saying, but understanding his needs requires more than just listening. Keep your pup healthy by looking for subtle changes that signal potential danger.
1. Bad breath
“Lots of people think that dogs have a bad breath. That’s actually not normal,” says Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in New York. A stinky smile could actually indicate periodontal disease or an oral tumor.
2. Yellow eyes
If something seems off about your pup’s gaze, look around the irises. “If a patient is jaundiced, the white of the eye will look yellow,” Hohenhaus says.
3. Tail chasing
Puppies love racing around, but a sudden urge to run in circles could signal a problem in older dogs. Hohenhaus says tail chasing, or snapping at imaginary flies, can suggest partial seizures.
4. Paw licking
Just like their owners, lots of pups suffer from allergies. “Allergies are very common,” says Dr. Evan Antin, a veterinarian at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital. “If you see your dog licking his paws or forearms a lot, that could be a sign.”
5. Tilted head
This might be the cutest pose ever, but there’s an important difference between a cute stance and a painful ear infection. “It’s not like that head tilt that they do that we love,” Hohenhaus explains. “It’s tilted and it stays tilted all the time.”
6. Mismatched eyes
Take a pic with the flash on, and check out your dog’s gaze. Is one of his eyes missing a reflection? Similar to the flashlight at the vet’s office, that bright light can catch a detached retina.”Eyes are a pair and they should mostly look the same, left and right,” Hohenhaus says.
7. Fur loss
Don’t chalk up a patchy coat to shedding. Antin says mites, allergies and hypothyroidism can all cause fur to fall out.
8. Droopy face
If one side of your dog’s face looks a little saggy, call the vet right away. Paralysis of the facial nerve strongly indicates hypothyroidism, Hohenhaus says.
9. Patchy gums
He probably won’t like it, but take a look inside your pet’s mouth. If you see patchy gums, they could be a sign of gingivitis, dehydration or shock, Antin says.
10. Runny nose
Poor canines get viruses too, but an extra-snotty snout potentially points to a fungal infection. Besides the “ick” factor, that kind of infection is especially challenging to treat.
11. Red eye
Some dogs’ peepers naturally look a little red, but take notice if the inside of one eye is much redder than the other. A dangerous haemorrhage could be the source. “You need to see the doctor right away, because all that inflammation can cause glaucoma and loss of vision,” Hohenhaus warns.
12. Increased thirst
Call the vet if you’re refilling the dog bowls more frequently. Diabetes, cancer and kidney or hormonal disease could all make your pet extra thirsty, Antin says.
13. “Crusty” nose
The next time he puts his head in your lap, give that nose a pat. A “crusty” snout might mean your dog struggles to make tears. “It could be a marker of dry eye, because there’s a duct that runs between the eye and the nose,” Hohenhaus explains.
14. Eating dirt
Some pups like to chow down on unusual things (cough, cough, your most expensive pair of shoes), but licking dirt or grout suggests something’s up. The weird new habit might be a sign of anemia, according to Hohenhaus.
15. Changed mood
Your dog’s your best friend, so trust your instincts if his personality shifts. “If he’s not greeting you when you come home, or just being less social in general, that’s a sign,” Antin says. “Any illness can look like that.”
From: Good Housekeeping US