Last weekend Milo felt so bad that we had to take him to our local emergency hospital. He ended up having abdominal surgery, but he is on the road for recovery now. Hopefully, he will be discharged from the hospital today. I decided to write a post on how dogs let us know about the way they feel.
Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us, when they feel unwell or what exactly is bothering them. Or can they? If you know your dog well, you should be able to spot signs of illness. As our dogs learn to understand us, we learn to understand their body language and habits. I am sure that most owners can communicate with their dogs in much the same way as they communicate with people. Remember Gromit and his eyebrows? Gromit is a beagle and I can assure you that Milo talks using his eyebrows in exactly the same way as Gromit. Other dogs may use their tails or ears more than eyebrows. Does your dog talk to you?
So when the dog becomes sick or just doesn’t feel well, he will tell you. You just have to listen… or watch. Several typical signs of illness or pain exist. I am not talking about obvious medical signs, such as vomiting, fever or blood in stool. I will describe some behaviours that may indicate that your dog is not feeling well and that you should call you veterinarian.
Shaking and quiver: if you see that your dog is quivering or shaking, most likely he is in pain.
Closing eyes: if you notice that your dog looks very concentrated and is closing his eyes for a few seconds, while obviously not sleeping, most likely he is in pain. It is often combined with quiver.
Arching his/her back: this often indicates abdominal cramps and pain.
Being restless: if your dog seem to unable to find comfortable position or constantly moves, it is likely that something is bothering him.
Being depressed or lethargic: if you see that your dog is more quiet, slow, dull or sleepy than usual for no apparent reason (such as a long walk), it is a sign of illness.
Insisting on being petted: when your dog demands to be petted or tries to hide his head in your arms, he is asking you for help.
Refusing food: if it is unusual for your dog to refuse food, he may be nauseated ro something else is bothering him.
Disorientation, confusion and dizziness: if your dog bumps into furniture, seems confused, fells or doesn’t respond to being called, call your vet immediately.
Aggression: if your dog attacks you with no apparent reason or growls when touched or moved, he may be ill.
Crying, whining or growling: note that many dogs DON’T cry, when they are in pain, so don’t expect them to. Crying may indicate illness in some dogs, who tend to vocalize their emotions.
These are just a few general guidelines and signs that your dog may exhibit, when he or she is not feeling well. However, no one else but you knows and understands your dog best. You are the best person to judge whether your dog is depressed or is he usually that way. Be aware of your dog’s attempts to tell you how they feel and don’t hesitate to call your vet, if you suspect that something is bothering your dog. I sincerely hope that you will never make use of this information, but it is better to be prepared.