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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 
  • They should show no indication of flees or insects
  • Eyes will be open, bright and free of any unusual discharge
  • The eye colour should be normal with no redness or blood in the eyes
  • The ears will be clean and free or dirt or odour
  • The mouth will be clean, with no inflammation or redness in the the gums and no excessive saliva
  • There will be no excessive or unusual discharge from the nose
  • The area under the tail will be clean with no irritation
  • Paws clean with no swelling, redness or tenderness

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, licking, scratching or redness on the skin could indicate the presence of parasites
  • Hair loss can indicate a reaction to fleas
  • 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. Excessive saliva and reluctance to eat could also indicate a problem
  • Seizures or fits could indicate a nervous disorder
  • Vomiting, Diarrhoea, weight loss/gain or tenderness around the stomach could indicate a digestive disorder
  • Frequent urination, problems urinating, blood in urine, odour or discharge could be due to a urinary disorder
  • 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 any tests necessary to diagnose and treat your pet.