What is Wrong With My Dog

what is wrong with my dog

what is wrong with my dog

What is wrong with my dog – not an uncommon question is it, especially if you share your life with a senior dog?

I decided to write this article after a bit of a scare last week. I’m forever banging on about the importance of noticing and acting upon behaviour changes in our older dogs. Naturally we should be diligent when it comes to pets of all ages, but since seniors can deteriorate so quickly, I never adopt a “wait and see” attitude.

In the same vein I talk a lot about knowing your dog, what’s “normal” and what isn’t. If you don’t have much of a relationship with him, not only is that incredibly sad, you’re also not likely to recognise when something is off. I hope you not only realise how detrimental that can be to his health, but how much you’re missing out on.

If you don’t know Red…

In case this is your first time visiting us, I’ll give you a bit of background about Red. She was rescued from an animal control facility by a shelter I volunteered at in Florida. They were about to kill her when Tri County offered her a home. I fell in love immediately and we’ve been sharing our lives for the past 8 years. She was obese and blind when we welcomed her, and approximately 8 years old. She is now around 16 and I love her more than anything.

What is wrong with my dog?

what is wrong with the do

Over the past 2 or 3 years Red has had some issues that have scared me at times. She was having kidney problems, then a mild case of dementia. I will say that because I watch her like a hawk, I’m the one who diagnosed dementia, not my vet. Of course he did confirm it afterwards!!

I know immediately when something isn’t “right” and I act on it immediately as well.

From the minute Red woke up the other day, I thought there was something a bit “off.” I couldn’t put my finger on it – it was like symptoms she exhibits if her dementia acts up, but I knew it wasn’t that. She was so restless all day, her head was tilted like it was a case of vestibular disease, but I didn’t think it was that either.

By 5:30pm I knew I wasn’t going to be comfortable waiting for her 6:30 appointment the next evening, so I called my amazing vet. Before I go on you may be wondering why I waited so long to make the call.

Fair question.

The reason is simple – It didn’t appear to be an emergency otherwise I would have called him from the road. She hadn’t gotten worse over the course of the day, and being that we’re in Spain, my vet is open until 8:00pm. Not to mention he is available 24/7 all I have to do is call.

Anyway we drove the 50 minutes to Malaga, and while I waited to be seen I took Red out to pee, and luckily thought to film her walking. I do my best to explain my concerns, but nothing can replace actually “seeing” it and Pepe (my vet) found it of great value.  

I thought she might have had a minor stroke, and he agreed it could have been a mini stroke or inflammation on the brain, but was definitely brain related. An MRI was out of the question because of the need to sedate, so some simple tests were done. He conducted sensitivity checks using a Q-tip (I had never seen that before), checked her reflexes and was happy with her responses.

He gave her a shot of I don’t know what, something holistic but I really should ask!! It was to reduce the inflammation in her brain, if that was in fact the problem. If it wasn’t, the shot would have no effect. I’m happy to report the next morning she was back to normal, which means it was some sort of inflammation, cause unknown.

An important lesson to learn

something is wrong with my dog

If you haven’t taken much notice of your dog lately (I hope that’s not true), or you assume the changes you’ve been seeing are a normal part of aging, please re-think that belief. While there are obviously physical and behavioural changes that come about as a result of the natural aging process, there are also many changes that are due to illness or a health issue of some sort.

It would also be incorrect to assume that at this stage (whatever that is for your dog), not much can be done. The longer you wait to have your dog checked, the more advanced the problem, but advanced still does not mean hopeless. You should also consider the possibility your dog is in pain, and that is not acceptable. Another reason to get down to the vet sooner rather than later.

At the first sign of a problem, or even something as subtle as what I noticed with Red, take your dog to the vet and don’t let your fear of being seen as “overreacting” stop you.

Even if your dog appears fine, it’s a good idea to schedule twice yearly check-ups, more often in some cases. Standard urine and blood tests may pick up something slight, and the sooner a problem is caught, the quicker it is dealt with.

What is wrong with my dog – conclusion

I don’t know what would have happened to Red had I waited until her appointment the next day, or ignored my gut. Of course that would never happen so I have no worries.

Can you say the same?

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question “what is wrong with my dog” what steps did you take to get an answer? Sharing helps others so please leave your thoughts in the comment section below or on my Facebook page.

What is Wrong With My Dog
Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

You May Also Like

33 thoughts on “What is Wrong With My Dog

  1. As mine grow older I find I’m quicker to decide a vet visit for confirmation or clearance comes into play. Nice piece.

    1. Thanks Cindi! I’m the same. With my younger dog Jack it’s easier not to panic and adopt a bit of a “wait and see” attitude, depending on what’s going on of course. With Red I’m always on high alert.

  2. Pet parents are the first line in defense with diagnosing and treatments for a vet. Knowing our dogs inside and out is key. Subtle changes can mean a big problem that can happen quickly. And we also need to continue to push for them when we know something’s off, even if our vet says it’s ok. Great post.

    1. Thanks Tonya, I agree with you. We’re the ones to recognise when something is “off” and our vets have to rely on our expertise during those times. How often has it happened by the time you get to the vet the symptoms aren’t present, or our animals aren’t there long enough for the vet to see anything wrong? That’s why if it’s something I know my vet will have a hard time seeing, I record it. You bring up a very important point about “pushing” for them. If we know something is wrong, it’s our responsibility to make our vets believe it, and recommend a next step. Them not seeing it does not in any way prove a problem does not exist.

  3. I ALWAYS follow my gut. I am also very connected with my animals so they usually let me know when they are feeling poorly. So sad to think about dogs out there who do not have that kind of relationship with their humans and suffer as a result.

    1. I think it’s important to follow our gut, it’s there for a reason, and I know how much I rely on it to guide me in so many ways. Since dogs are clever about hiding how they feel, we need some sort of clue something’s up. I agree it’s terribly sad knowing how many people are missing out on that special relationship with their dog. To them it’s just a pet they have to feed and take out so they don’t ruin the carpet.

  4. It’s free to call the vet and they’re usually pretty happy to take questions so if I have doubts, I’ll pick up the phone and ask. I’m kind of paranoid about his health though.

    1. It’s better to be paranoid than apathetic and you’re right, it’s free to call and they always answer questions. They probably swear at me once they hang up, but at least they’re always friendly and helpful.

  5. I am always sure to keep an eye on my senior pup Lucy. I know that I would definitely notice if something wasn’t right with her. Love my old girl <3 Red is so lucky to have such a diligent and wonderful mom! Thank you for giving her such wonderful care.

    1. They probably wish we’d stop watching them so closely!! Thanks Emily that’s very kind of you to say. I fell in love with her when I first saw her at the shelter, and even though she was blind staff were always telling me how she would perk up whenever she heard me coming. She obviously knew who to choose!!

  6. What a great post! I often talk about folks should “listen to their heart” (intuition) when something doesn’t seem right. I’d much rather discover nothing is wrong, than to wait too long. With our older dogs, even a short time sometimes is “too long” to wait.

    1. Thank you Amy, and you’re absolutely right. Intuition is there for a reason, and I use it a lot in my life, not only when it comes to caring for my animals. I agree, it’s better to waste a trip to the vet, then let something fester, especially in an older dog who can go downhill so quickly.

  7. I totally agree. My dogs are a bit younger (1, 5, 6, and 10) but Im definitely that “overprotective” dog mom who would much rather be safe than sorry. If something seems wrong, off to the vet we go. Videos are always such a great idea too! We’ve done them a few times for our vet to watch too. Red is lucky to have a caring, protective momma. 🙂 Glad she’s doing better again!

    1. Your dogs are youngsters Debbie!! It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and I’m sure your vet found those videos so helpful. Sometimes they can make a big difference in terms of diagnosis. I’m the lucky one to have Red in my life.

  8. Ever since my Ty got sick, I am super in tune with changes and super paranoid. I now run the dogs to the vet over all sorts of little things. But I figure better safe than sorry!

    1. I use the word paranoid too, but while reading your comment I realise I’m not going to call myself that anymore. Instead we should say we’re super pet parents who take excellent care of them!!

  9. Aww RED is precious. I can relate to wondering what’s up with my pet. I never owned a dog however with my last cat, I noticed she seemed to sleep more than usual. I didn’t think it was anything except her getting older (she was 13.5) however it wasn’t until she had a coughing fit that I took her to the vet. It was then I learned she had abnormalities in her blood and eventually discovered cancer. So true about learning to NOT assume anything is wrong. Better to be safe than sorry.

    1. I agree Kamira, she is!! I’m so sorry to hear about your cat, but it makes perfect sense to assume she was sleeping more because of age…because they often do. As much as I kept an eagle eye on my cats, unless I thought something else was off, I don’t believe I would have taken them to the vet because they were sleeping more. It’s definitely better to be a frequent visitor to the vet just to be sure.

  10. Oh my goodness, I’ve just been going through the same thing today with Shasta and I couldn’t agree more with your wonderful post! Since we are on vacation and he just saw the Vet Wed I thought he might just be restless and grumpier (we jokingly say he can be a grumpy old man) so we gave him his as needed pain medication (I’m also in agreement they shouldn’t be in pain). He seemed to get more restless and all day I’ve been saying; “what’s wrong little buddy, I just wish you could tell me”. Good news is, this evening he has proved to have an upset tummy but eating and drinking well and getting better by the minute.
    I’m also with you though, as they age they don’t have much by way of reserves and can take a turn for the worse rapidly. I notice the smallest of changes very quickly and also act accordingly.
    Thank you so much for such terrific information!

    1. Thanks Denise, I’m so happy you found this post useful, and I’m glad to hear Shasta’s back to normal. It must have been nerve wracking being on vacation away from your vet, but luckily you had his medication. When I travel with Red she practically needs her own suitcase!!

  11. I’m glad that you are so aware of Red’s state of being! Whenever it comes to a health concern, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially with those who are more vulnerable.

  12. I understand your concern. I was the same way with my girl Jessie. Small things can be major for senior dogs! You’re fortunate to have good veterinary support, that helps a lot! Glad all is better with Red!

    1. Thanks Karen, Jessie was lucky to have such a caring mummy! Many people don’t realise how quickly seniors can take a turn for the worse, and unfortunately (or fortunately) I’m always right when I have a concern. I have a great vet but he’s not there all the time, and I don’t like the others in his practice. When I get back (we’ve been away for 4 months), I’ll have to find some back ups. I got spoiled here by having a holistic vet who’s on call for his patients 24/7.

  13. When in doubt go to the vet is our motto. Our vet recently retirned due to illness so our trust has to be won all over again – a worry as Dusty is very unwell.

    I hope red fights on for a long time for you, I know you love for her is deep as any ocean.

    1. Thanks Marjorie, unfortunately she’s not doing very well. I’m off to the vet shortly to discuss her latest test results which are not good. I know Dusty isn’t well either and I know how scary it can be when a trusted vet is no longer available, for whatever reason. I hope you find another great one you feel confident in to care for Dusty.

  14. Wow, that’s quite a scare! I’m so glad Red is OK, I hope it doesn’t recur. I am always willing to run to the Vet if I see something is “off” w/ my dogs. Better safe than sorry, right? Thanks for sharing Red’s rescue story, I love how she was saved. Red is so deserving of the wonderful life you’ve given her!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one rushing off to the vet!! Thanks that’s so kind of you to say, and you know how they say animals tend to pick us? It’s definitely true in this case, and she knew I would fall in love with her.

  15. I’m so sorry you recently had a scare with Red, and I’m so happy to hear she’s back to normal. You’re right, if we don’t know a baseline, how can we determine if something is “off?” Also, untreated medical conditions rarely just go away, for humans, and dogs, regardless of age. It can only help to be proactive. Thanks for this post.

    1. Thanks Bryn. You’re right about most untreated conditions not going away on their own, and when dealing with an older dog, we can’t afford to wait and see how things go.

  16. Getting to know your pet is so important. I don’t understand why someone would bother owning a pet if they didn’t want to spend time with them. Sometimes the only way that you know that something is wrong with a pet is when they do something that is unusual for them specifically. I wish that pets could speak and say “I’m not feeling well”, but that is not the case. I am like you when it comes to reacting to changes. Small changes can make me very nervous.

    1. I agree with you Robin. The mind boggles when trying to understand why people bring a pet into their lives, than don’t bother with them. With Jack a small change isn’t that worrying, although of course I keep an eye on him, but with Red it’s heart stopping.

  17. How wonderful Red has you. I find I get this way with the girls and they are only 5 years old. I hold them all the time and watch them like a hawk. If they don’t appear “right,” I’m on the phone with the vet or off to the vet.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one burning up the phone lines to my vet!! I’m sure if they could speak, literally, they would tell us all to just leave them in peace sometimes!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*