Preventive Health Care
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 19, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Our pets age faster than we do and their health changes with age. 10 to 20 percent of all dogs that veterinarians see for their annual examinations have underlying health issues that have gone unnoticed by their owners. So how do you know your fur kid is actually sick?
Here are 10 signs that your pet may be ill
- Bad breath or drooling–this can indicate a tooth or gum problem or even kidney disease.
- Excessive drinking or urination–this can indicate diabetes, kidney disease or other metabolic problem.
- Appetite change associated with weight loss or gain–this can indicate many geriatric issues such as kidney disease, liver disease, or thyroid issues.
- Change in activity level (e.g., lack of interest in doing things they once did)
- Stiffness or difficulty in rising or climbing stairs–this is the number one sign of arthritis in dogs.
- Sleeping more than normal, or other behavior or attitude changes-this can be a metabolic problem or other internal issue.
- Coughing, sneezing, excessive panting, or labored breathing-this could indicate heart issues or asthma.
- Dry or itchy skin, sores, lumps, or shaking of the head–this could mean a skin infection.
- Frequent digestive upsets or change in bowel movements–this could be the sign of inflammatory bowel problems
- Dry, red, or cloudy eyes–this could be allergies, cataracts or dry eye.
When your pet has his annual physical, your veterinarian may recommend tests to insure that the inside of your pet is really healthy. These tests may include:
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels.
- Antibody tests to identify if your pet has been exposed to tick-borne or other infectious diseases.
- A complete blood count to rule out blood-related conditions.
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance.
- Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infection and other disease and to evaluate the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine.
- A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too little thyroid hormone.
- An ECG to screen for an abnormal heart rhythm, which may indicate underlying heart disease.
Preventive care screening helps to detect disease in its earliest stages. Early disease detection is the key to success and early resolution of problems. You can also save financially if you treat a small problem rather than waiting to treat a big one. Preventive care just make sense. See your veterinarian today!
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan