A dog can bring fun, love, and excitement to your home and family's life, but most people are not prepared for the overwhelming amount of care this new family member will need. From feeding and training to exercising and grooming, it is easy to see the challenges of pet ownership. However, with proper care and discipline, your dog can be a companion for many years to come. Unfortunately, even with proper care, your dog may develop certain conditions that can be painful and life-threatening. With this guide, you will know when your dog requires immediate veterinary care.
If your dog is pressing their head against a wall, door, or other flat surface, consult your veterinarian immediately. While shocking for many people to learn, head pressing is a sign of neurological disorders caused by excess toxins in your dog's body. Known as Hepatic Encephalopathy, the condition is life threatening, so efficient diagnosis and treatment is imperative.
In most instances, a dog's head pressing initially stems from an issue with the liver. This organ is an essential part of filtering toxins out of the body. If the liver is not working properly or is failing, the toxins will flood the body and brain. Not only will these toxins make your dog dangerously ill, but they will also cause the brain to swell, reducing your dog's ability to complete simple tasks, such as walk and eat.
In addition to head pressing, your dog may show the following signs if they are suffering with liver failure:
- Repeated pacing
- Change in behavior
- Reduced reflexes
- Vision difficulty
Blood samples and an MRI of the brain can determine the presence of toxins in your dog's body. Then, the veterinarian can design a plan of action to save your dog. Liver surgery will most likely be necessary.
Dry Heaving/Unproductive Vomiting
Deep-chested dogs, such as Great Danes, boxers, and bulldogs, are predisposed to develop gastric dilatation and volvulus, or GDV. Also known as bloat, GDV causes the stomach to expand and dilate excessively, reducing the stomach's ability to release food and gas. This increases pressure in the stomach, resulting in bloating and swelling.
If your dog seems to retch and contract their abdominal walls periodically without actually vomiting up any food or liquids, they most likely have GDV. Rest, intravenous fluids, and surgery may be necessary to reduce the bloat in your dog's stomach. Without immediate care from your veterinarian, GDV can lead to deadly conditions such as the following:
- Reduced blood circulation through the body and to the heart
- Rupture of stomach wall
- Increased pressure to the diaphragm, which reduces your dog's ability to breathe
Inability to Rise
Overweight dogs have an increased risk of arthritis, which reduces their ability to move easily. Also, certain breeds have low-energy personalities, making them have less desire to get up and exercise. English bulldogs, pugs, and basset hounds are good examples of low-energy breeds. However, if your usually energetic dog is unable to rise from their bed or the floor, there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
Dehydration causes an electrolyte imbalance, which decreases your dog's strength. This may prevent them from rising, but they may also struggle walking. Also, dehydration can cause brain fog in both humans and animals, leading to comprehension difficulties.
Certain diseases can also reduce your dog's mobility. Paralysis of the spine, infections, and even a hidden injury could all prevent your dog from rising and walking.
Ask a friend or family member to help you safely carry your dog to the vet. A full medical evaluation, which includes a physical exam, blood and urine samples, and even x-rays or ultrasounds, will help the veterinarian determine the cause of their immobility.
Your dog is unable to use words to tell you something is physically wrong, so learning the signs of a possible condition is key. If your dog is displaying one or more of the above signs, you need to consult a veterinarian at an animal hospital like Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital immediately.