What’s your dog trying to tell you?

Friday 2nd November, 2012 by Claire Lodge.


“Mum, I’ve got a headache.” “Mum, my tummy feels funny and I think I’m going to be sick.” “Mum, I think I’ve got a poorly tooth – it doesn’t half hurt.”

Mums everywhere will empathise with those cries for help – as well as many others in similar vein. And they can therefore do something about the problem – once, of course, they have satisfied themselves that little Wayne or Chantelle isn’t swinging the lead simply because they don’t particularly want to go to school that day!

But what about your pet dog? He can’t tell you if he’s feeling a bit under the weather can he, poor thing? Or can he?

There are signs that your pet can give you to indicate very clearly that there is something wrong, and if you know what to look out for then you can very quickly pick up on it and begin to remedy the situation.

For example, loss of appetite is a sure sign that all is not well. You will be aware of how much your four-legged, tail-wagging friend eats normally, so if the doggie dish is left with untouched or hardly touched food for a couple of days, then the odds are that something is wrong and it is always best to be on the safe side and check it out with your vet. It may be nothing much, but early diagnosis can sometimes be absolutely essential in the treatment of serious diseases.

So much for food – what about drink? The same applies. Make a mental note of how much water your pet drinks normally. It will be quite a bit more in the hot summer months than in the winter – and he could swig a whole bowlful if he’s just walked, run, jumped, frisked and romped a mile or two. Taking such things into consideration will make you aware of any notable changes, but be prepared to take action if the out-of-the-ordinary drinking pattern continues for several days.

Look out also for changes in the ‘bounce’ factor. If your dog normally bounds about, ears pricked, tongue lolling, eyes bright and glistening, eager to play games, fetch sticks, chase rabbits, jump fearlessly into the local river and has the energy levels of Mo Farah, but suddenly couldn’t care less about such frolics and lies listlessly in his bed in the corner, then he’s telling you, just as if he could talk, that he’s way off colour and needs a pick-me-up at the least. Your vet will, of course, be able to tell you if it is cause for greater concern.

Another thing – and don’t think I’m barking mad on this one – but did you know that a change in the sound of your dog’s voice can be a signal that there is a problem? It’s true. Your pet’s bark can tell you if he’s happy, sad – or in some pain and discomfort.

The eyes are a dead give-away too. Bright and shiny equals health and fitness; dull and pleading equals some kind of problem.

After a while you will know instinctively if there is something wrong, and the best thing you can do in all such circumstances is to seek professional advice from your vet. It may be nothing to worry about – in which case you will have peace of mind. If it is more serious then you will also be relieved that your prompt action could well have saved the day.