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There are many types of illness, far too many to include them all on this course. Understanding every illness is not vital but understanding when something is wrong is important as early recognition of an illness will enable treatment before it gets too serious.

Firstly you need to know what a healthy dog is like then you know when something is wrong.

They should be bright, alert and moving about freely.  They will hold their head in the normal position and their tail will be in its usual places not firmly between their legs. Their skin will be clean and with no irritations. Also with no black dots which could indicate flees or insects.

Eyes will be open and bright and free of any unusual discharge.  The eyes will be normal colour and no redness or blood in the eyes.

Ears will be clean and free of dirt and free of any odour.

Their mouth will be clean, normal coloured gums, no excessive saliva.

There will be no excessive or unusual discharge from the nose.

Under their tail will be clean and no irritations.

Paws clean and not swollen, red or tender to touch.

If you know what normal is for your pet you should easily know when something is wrong.

Signs are things you observe and symptoms are what the patient tells you. With animals, unfortunately, you do not have symptoms because they cannot tell you but they have a lot of ways they give you signs that you can observe and act on.

Conditions that could be the wrong include:

Parasites which can be seen by licking, scratching or redness on the skin. Or you may see hair loss or you may see the parasite like a flea or a tick.

Eye disorders which will show discharge, blood in the eyes or sight problems.

Heart problems which show as weakness, exhaustion, fainting pain and lack of energy.

Bone and joint problems showing as lameness, discomfort or paralysis.

Mouth and tooth disorders showing as blood in the mouth, growths or tumours, bad breath or redness. Also excessive salvia and reluctance to eat.

Nervous disorders including seizures and fits.

Digestive disorders showing as vomiting, tenderness around the stomach, diarrhoea, weight loss or weight gain.

Urinary disorders showing as frequent urination, problems urination, blood in the urine, foul smells and discharge.

Respiratory disorders showing as coughing, breathing noises, wheezing, sneezing, laboured breathing or discharge from the nose.

If you notice any of these problems or signs that you do not know what they are, you need to ask your vet.  Your vet will need to know as much as possible so remember or write down what you see. The vet will examine your pet and carry out tests.