This is the last in a series of newsletters focused on important medical symptoms you should never ignore in your dog.  Remember, a symptom is a sign of a disease, not a disease in itself – and one symptom could indicate several possible diseases.

So far I’ve told you about these 15 important symptoms that you need to watch for:

  •  Pacing and restlessness
  • Unproductive retching
  • Collapse or fainting
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Not eating or loss of appetite
  • Losing weight
  • Breathing problems or trouble breathing
  • Red eye
  • Jaundice
  • Trouble urinating
  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Fever
  • Seizure
  • Bruising and bleeding

Today I want to finish the series by giving you information about the final 6 symptoms you should watch for.  This makes a total of 21 important medical symptoms – and the more you know about them, the better.

  1. Coughing – Coughing is a common protective reflex that clears secretions or foreign matter from the throat, voice box and airways.  It also protects the lungs against aspiration.  Coughing hinders the body’s ability to breathe properly.  Common causes for coughing include obstruction in the windpipe, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, lung tumors, kennel cough and heart failure.  Some of the causes are life threatening and all pets with a cough should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
  2. Bloated or distended abdomen – Abdominal distension is an abnormal enlargement of the abdominal cavity resulting from causes other than simple obesity.  It can be the result of abnormal fluid accumulation or enlargement of any abdominal organ including the liver, kidneys or spleen.  During pregnancy, abdominal distension can result from distension of the stomach with fluid or air (“bloating”), or distension of the uterus (womb).  Pressure from the abdomen pushing into the chest may make breathing more difficult and pressure within the abdomen may decrease the appetite.  NOTE: It is important to recognize abdominal distension because it can be a symptom of potentially life-threatening diseases and should be investigated thoroughly.
  3. Bloody diarrhea – Blood in the feces (melena) can make the stools appear black and tarry.  Its presence suggests digested blood in the feces.  Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool (hematochezia), which is caused by bleeding into the colon or rectum. If your dog has bloody diarrhea, have him evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  4. Bloody urine – Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells in the urine. It may be gross (visible to the naked eye) or microscopic.  There are several possible causes including bacterial infections, cancer and stones in the urinary tract.
  5. Bite wounds – When two animals engage in a fight or aggressive play, bites often result.  Bite wounds, which may only appear as small puncture wounds in the skin, can actually be quite extensive.  Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage.  All bite wounds should receive veterinary attention.
  6. Bloody vomit – Vomited blood can be fresh blood (which is bright red) or partially digested blood (which has the appearance of brown coffee grounds).  Dogs vomit blood for many reasons and the various causes can affect the dog in different ways.  Some are subtle and minor ailments, while others are severe or life threatening.

That completes the list of the top 21 signs you can’t ignore.  If your dog has any of these symptoms, discuss it with your veterinarian.  It could save your dog’s life.  Remember, your dog depends on you to keep him safe and healthy.