How To Tell If Your Dog Is Not Feeling Well

November 12, 2019
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Thermal Imaging – The Solution When Your Pet Feels Bad

Wouldn’t it be nice if our pets could talk to us?  Sure, they do communicate with us, in lots of ways. But wouldn’t it be nice if they could really talk?  Especially when they feel bad, and we don’t know why.

How Do I Know My Pet is Feeling Bad?

Since you are usually seeing your pets every day, you will realize when they’re just not being themselves.  You will see changes in routines, changes in behavior, or you may note physical changes.  In a way, your pet is talking to you when you see any of these changes.

What Are Some Indications My Pet is Feeling Bad?

Changes in health may occur suddenly, or they may progress slowly over time.  Any change in a pet’s behavior, appetite, eliminations, or activity may indicate a problem.  Slower changes may be more difficult to detect.

Animals’ survival in the wild often depends on them appearing strong and healthy.  The same instinct is present in our domesticated dogs and cats and results in them not always showing signs of illness or disease until their quality of life has significantly reduced.  That makes it important for us to monitor our pets for clues that may indicate a potential problem.

Signs that may indicate our pet is feeling bad include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Appetite changes or increased water drinking
  • Bad breath
  • Increased or decreased urination or defecation
  • Lethargy, irritability, or not joining the family
  • Stiffness, lameness, or difficulty rising
  • Sneezing, coughing, or runny nose
  • Excessive panting or labored breathing
  • Hair loss, itching or skin changes

How Can My Veterinarian Find the Problem?

Just like physicians, veterinarians have many tools that help them find the problem when our pets don’t feel well. When there is a problem, your observations are an important source of information for the veterinarian. What you have noticed, along with vital signs and a comprehensive physical examination, starts the process of identifying the problem, and indicates what additional diagnostics are recommended.

How is Thermal Imaging a Solution?

The more information your veterinarian can get about your pet, the easier a diagnosis will be.  Digital technology has allowed thermal imaging to become an important part of the veterinary examination and helps solve the problem of getting information about patients that can’t speak.

Thermal images are a visual representation of the surface body temperatures of a patient and give physiological information about what is going on below the surface.  Increased temperatures (hyperthermia) may indicate inflammation, infection, or malignancy.  Decreased temperatures (hypothermia) may indicate atrophy or neurological dysfunction.  Thermal images give your veterinarian important clues and help form a road map for additional diagnostics and therapy.

Thermal image of a FS, 7-year-old American Staffordshire Mix, FS, presenting with soreness in the right shoulder. The image shows thermal asymmetry between the shoulders. The right side had an average temperature of 93.6° F compared to a similar zone over the left shoulder that had an average temperature of 91.8° F.

Lateral thermal images of the same patient showing hyperthermia over the right shoulder as compared to the left.

Lateral thermal images of the same patient showing hyperthermia over the right shoulder as compared to the left.

Thermal images courtesy of Dr. Beth Innis, Sleepy Dog Veterinary, Arlington, MA

On the Road to Feeling Good Again

Using your observations, the results of a physical examination, and modern technology such as veterinary thermal imaging, your veterinarian can find why your pet doesn’t feel good.  Once the problem is identified, then together you can start doing what is needed to help your pet get back to feeling good again.

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