Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore in Your Senior Dog

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Learn the signs that indicate your senior dog may have a larger health problem at play.

10 Signs Requiring Immediate Veterinary Attention

Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if you see any of these signs:

  1. Blue tongue
  2. Bloody diarrhea
  3. Collapse/fainting
  4. Difficulty breathing
  5. Explosive vomiting
  6. Pale gums
  7. Profuse bleeding
  8. Retching with no vomit
  9. Seizure
  10. Sudden swelling of abdomen

40 Subtler Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Staying alert to subtle signs of possible disease helps you get an early diagnosis and maximum benefit of treatment for your senior dog. You know what’s normal for your dog. If something seems unusual, don’t assume it’s “just old age.” Get a checkup, ideally within 24 hours. Carefully and completely describe the signs that concern you so your veterinarian can properly examine your dog and do the tests necessary for diagnosis.

Things You Can See

  1. Bleeding gums
  2. Blood in the stool or urine
  3. Change in eye color or opacity
  4. Change in tongue or gum color
  5. Dark brown stains or buildup on teeth
  6. Distended abdomen
  7. Dry, flaking skin
  8. Loss or thinning of coat
  9. Lumps or bumps on or just under skin (regular massage helps find these)
  10. A mass anywhere on or protruding, even minimally, from the body
  11. Sores that won’t heal
  12. Unusual discharge from the mouth, ears, eyes, or anus
  13. Weight gain or loss without change in diet

Your Dog’s Bodily Functions

  1. Change in sleeping/waking patterns
  2. Coughing or raspy breath
  3. Diarrhea (for more than 24 hours)
  4. Difficulty defecating or urinating
  5. Difficulty eating or swallowing
  6. Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  7. Excessive drinking
  8. Excessive panting unrelated to level of exercise
  9. Excessive urination
  10. Lethargy
  11. Unusual hunger
  12. Unusual odor
  13. Vomiting (for more than 24 hours)

How Your Dog Acts

  1. Aimless wandering or pacing; getting “lost” behind furniture or in corners
  2. Bumping into objects in unfamiliar environments
  3. Change in relationships with family (e.g., not seeming to recognize people)
  4. Falling on the last step in a flight of stairs
  5. Frequent head shaking
  6. Frequent rubbing, biting, or licking at a body part
  7. Moping or seeming depressed
  8. Refusal to eat or drink
  9. Squinting or seeming to be overly sensitive to light
  10. Uncharacteristic aggression
  11. Uncharacteristic barking or whining
  12. Uncharacteristic refusal to walk, run, climb stairs, or get into the car or onto furniture
  13. Uncharacteristic wincing when moving or when touched
  14. Unusual anxiety (e.g., upon separation)

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