Dog Health 

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Muzzle warm or cold?

Contrary to popular belief a dog’s muzzle being warm or cold and wet isn’t a good indicator of how they are feeling. If your dog is ill the most likely symptom you will see is that they become quiet and stop eating.

Not eating

Not eating isn’t always a problem. If your pet is lively and alert and refuses a meal it probably means nothing. If they are depressed and miss several meals particularly if they are also vomiting have diarrhoea or are drinking excessively then this is likely to be an illness and you should consult your Vet.


What have they vomited?

Grass only, normal, up to a certain point.

A little bile?  Nothing unusual.

The previous day´s meal?  Does it otherwise still seem fit and well? If it eats at its usual time and nothing else happens, it´s probably not serious.

Repeated vomiting over the course of a day particularly in puppies or older animals could be serious and you should go to your Vet. Vomiting accompanied by diarrhoea  or straining could be an infection or food poisoning.

Vomiting without passing any faeces can mean a blocked intestine. Puppies frequently eat Dummies, socks, stones and other objects that aren’t good for them. This is always serious. Go immediately to the surgery.

Soft or liquid stools?

Soft stools or diarrhoea is a frequent occurrence in dogs - less so in cats - and will often resolve with fasting for 24 hours. If your dog isn’t either ill or very young this is a sensible first course of action. Drinking water only for 24 hours followed by a light diet of fish, rice, scrambled eggs pasta or bread for 3 days will sort most episodes.

Diarrhoea accompanied by straining, fresh blood or mucous (jelly) means colitis and this is unlikely to go away on its own.


The commonest cause of coughing in young dogs is Kennel Cough. This is a contagious infection which is always around and occurs in epidemics  like human flu. It can be caused by several different bugs so previous infection doesn’t always mean they are immune. The briefest of contacts between dogs is enough to spread it and we can carry it from house to house as well. The cough is characteristically harsh or honking - people usually think the dog has got something stuck in its throat- and starts 3 to 10 days after being exposed to the bug. Although distressing for the dog it is rarely serious except in young puppies and older small dogs (like Yorkies or Maltese Terriers). Total rest is the first thing to do as exercise or pulling on the lead will make it worse. Honey and Glycerine mixture is simple home treatment that works in mild cases. Also making their  food  sloppy will help. Kennel Cough affects the throat and larynx mainly not the chest. Cough bottles are unlikely to help. If you are worried go to the surgery but please keep your dog outside until your appointment time or it may infect every other dog there.

Coughing in older animals can be Bronchitis, Kennel Cough or Heart Disease. Coughing at night in particular and wet sounding coughs are always likely to be a problem. See a vet before further symptoms develop. 

Dogs will occasionally cough from lung worm although this is fairly rare. Lung worms can be treated with Panacur or Advocate.

Always drinking, and urinating too much?

With modern dog-biscuits (20% liquid), your dog needs to drink more than with tinned foods at 80% water-content. In hot weather, with exercise, water requirements go up. Never deprive your dog of water, but monitor how much it is drinking each day and let your Vet know if it is excessive. Generally speaking a normal dog will drink about 30 to 60 mls per kilo bodyweight a day. This means a Border Collie should drink approximately ½ to 1 ½ pints daily.

Common causes of drinking excessively are kidney infections, kidney failure, diabetes, liver disease, stress, infections of the uterus and Cushing’s syndrome. You should always get it checked out and remember it will help if you can catch a urine sample in a clean plastic container before you come.


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