Ask A Vet: My Dog Is Sick. How Do I Know When To Go To The Vet?


Sometimes pets get sick and then they get better all on their own without any intervention from you or your veterinarian, but lots of times when they’re sick if you wait to see if they’re going to get better on their own, whatever is wrong gets worse and makes your dog’s likelihood of recovery less.

So how do you decide? Obviously the best way to decide is to take your dog to the vet and let the veterinary professionals tell you what to do. But if that’s just not feasible for you here are some guidelines to help you know when to go.

If your dog is vomiting and has vomited several times, especially if he is also acting like he feels bad and cannot even hold down clear liquids, you need to go. The number of times dogs vomit how they feel and whether or not they can hold down clear liquids are medical criteria to help gauge emergency status in gastrointestinal cases.

If your dog is acting strange, circling in one direction or seems to be having a seizure, neurologic disease could be at play. If he stops with his head pressed against a wall or seems off balance, it isn’t a time to wait and see. You will need help with neurologic disease from a veterinary team.

Limping dogs can sometimes wait to see if the soreness will resolve on its own, but if your dog is not bearing weight and holding the leg up all the time, you need radiographs and a vet visit to rule out fractures and significant soft tissue injury. If you saw your dog get injured for example hit by a car or sustain of fall, it is better not to wait and let your veterinarian assess her for internal injury.

Sometimes dogs just act sick.  If you cannot rouse your dog, if he is lethargic or has white gums, it is time to get help. If there is obvious injury or bleeding, don’t wait.  Use common sense. Use criteria that you would use for a human friend, only err more on the side of caution, since your dog cannot list symptoms or answer questions.

These are just a few of the examples of when you need to see your vet. If you have any doubt, it is always better to be safe and not sorry when it comes to your dog.


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