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Signs a Senior Dog Should Visit the Vet

October 24, 2013

As dogs age, they need more frequent examinations by their veterinarians.  Older pets are more prone to disease and most diseases can be cured or controlled if found early.

In my notes, I found an excellent list of symptoms that would require immediate veterinary attention.  I’m sorry I cannot source the list but if anyone recognizes it, let me know and I’ll credit them.

*Blood in the stool or urine.  Just as with humans, the presence of blood could be minor but could also indicate a serious problem, such as cancer or kidney disease.  Check it out!

*Constipation or trouble urinating.  As pets age their systems slow down.  That includes their elimination processes.

*Excessive panting.   Heatstroke, heart failure, pain, Cushing’s Disease, nausea and many other symptoms show themselves this way.  If your dog is panting excessively and it continues for an extended period of time, call the vet!  When a dog is hot, it will pant to cool off.  Here is our Maggie on a very warm day at an animal rescue event, and the dip in the pool cooled her down.

A very warm dog cooling off in the pool

*Excessive weight loss or gain.  Diabetes is one disease that can cause weight loss in its early stages.  Certain types of cancer can do the same.  Don’t ignore any sudden change in weight or eating habits.

*Hair loss.  Any sudden loss of fur has a reason.  It might be a bad reaction to food, or it could be symptomatic of another serious condition.

*Inability to chew dry food.  The obvious suspect would be dental problems, such as loose or missing teeth.  Diseased or fractured teeth could be causing the dog pain.

*Lameness that doesn’t go away or improve within a few days.  Could be an injury or could be a sign of something else.  Our Blue Great Dane, Coby, began licking a front foot excessively.  At first, we couldn’t find evidence of anything wrong.  The licking continued and in a few weeks, we noticed a small growth on his ankle area, and he began to limp.  Coby was diagnosed with an aggressive malignancy that eventually required euthanasia.  Don’t ignore such symptoms.

*Lumps, sores or scabs.  There are many possible causes for these.  Cancer is only one.  If they don’t heal quickly, they should be examined by a professional.

*Sudden decrease in vision.  Cataracts or glaucoma are possible causes.

*Repeated vomiting or diarrhea.  If it doesn’t clear up in a couple days, it might be serious.  Salmonella infection is just one possibility.  Projectile vomiting should be checked out sooner.

*Sudden loss of urinary or bowel control.  See the vet at once.  The cause might be an easy fix with medication, or it could signal a more serious issue.

*Greatly increased water consumption.  Again, it could serious or not.  Increased thirst is a primary sign of diabetes.

Regular veterinary examinations can go a long way toward keeping Fido healthy and extending his life.  Your vet will cover basic screenings, blood work, urinalysis and fecal exam.  At each subsequent visit, he or she will be able to detect any unusual changes from the last visit that could signal a serious illness.

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