Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where There Is Smoke, There Is Fire: A Symptom Is Your Friend, Treat It With Respect!

Do you feel that something isn't right with your dog? Don't shrug it off! You know your dog better than anybody and if you feel that something isn't right, go with your gut feeling.

How important is this? 

If you're as paranoid as I am, sometimes you might just make a nuisance of yourself. That is a small price to pay for nipping problems in the bud when something really is wrong. I can tell you that my gut feeling has been right about 95% of the time. Only the 5% was just me being paranoid!

Looking back, what I regret is not being paranoid, but letting myself to be lulled into accepting that it  really was nothing. Why? Because Jasmine has paid for that!

Nothing wrong?

Ever since she came to us Jasmine was suffering with digestive issues and bad stools. So we kept taking her to vets. They checked stool samples and never found anything. They'd give her antibiotics which for some reason would temporarily help. They'd put her on prescription diet which, frankly, didn't make any difference.

So what did we do? After a hundred of vet visits we accepted that her digestive system is weak and that's the way she is. What we should have done? We should have kept looking for a vet who'd take things seriously enough to keep looking for a reason until they'd find one!

Why? Because Jasmine was suffering from food allergies which over time developed into eosinophilic gastroenteritis (a type of IBD)! This was diagnosed only five years later when we took her to a new vet for an ACL injury consultation!

Nobody mentioned food allergies before and, if they were thinking it, they figured that the prescription diet was supposed to solve it. Except that the food contained the very ingredients Jasmine is allergic to!

And it doesn't stop there! I do believe that her food allergies, and resulting digestive issues, were at the root of her many other problems she ended up having to deal with!

One bad apple can spoil and whole bunch and one part of your dog's system not working properly will affect the rest of his body!

A symptom is your friend!

We all wish our dogs remained healthy and some indeed do. Many however will suffer from health issues at some point in their lives. How would you know if your dog was having a health problem? Regular veterinary checkups surely help. But quite often a symptom is the only clue you might get.

A symptom is your friend. Without a symptom, how would you know there is a problem?

What constitutes a symptom?

A symptom is a sign of a disease. This is nothing unfamiliar to us. Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itching, pains and aches... we all know those. When we get sick, we can feel the symptoms and we can also more or less clearly (and more or less incessantly) communicate them to others.

With dogs, some symptoms are easy enough to notice. But many of them can sneak up unrecognized or masquerade as normal signs of aging.

Is there such a thing as normal signs of aging?

If your dogs is not as active and playful as he used to be, it is likely because he's in pain. Dogs don't slow down because they get wiser! If they had a choice, they'd remain eternal puppies. It is their bodies what is slowing them down, not their spirit. While conditions such as arthritis often do come with age it doesn't mean that they should be overlooked or ignored. You don't want your dog to suffer in pain, do you?

How to detect a symptom?

Because our dogs cannot tell us what's bothering them, we need to become adept in seeing the symptoms. Any change in your dog's habits, behavior and physical appearance should be considered a symptom. Take note of anything out of the ordinary. Has your dog suddenly become stubborn? Perhaps his hearing isn't working as it used to. Has he become withdrawn or snarly? He might be in pain. Does he drink more than normally? Has his coat changed? Has his body proportions changed? Does he spend the night pacing around the house? All these are likely signs of a medical problem.

Where there is smoke, there is fire!

You noticed a symptom, now what? Get the the bottom of it! I've learned the hard way how important this is. Getting a clear diagnosis isn't always easy. If there is a symptom, there is a reason for it. Don't take 'it's probably nothing' as an answer. How often do you see smoke and there is no fire?

Important note: A symptom is not a disease but a sign of one. Dealing with the symptom alone rarely solves the problem.

Dog Owner's Guide: Is it an emergency?


Related Articles:
It's Your Dog's Health
Does Your Vet Listen To You?
Help! My Dog Is Purple!
Veterinary Drive-Thru: Coming Soon To A Veterinary Hospital Near You!
A Praise To Our Dog House DVM
A Word On Pain
The House Is On Fire! Bridget's Pancreatitis


  1. There is a book out called "Speaking for Spot--Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life". It's written by Dr. Nancy Kay. I have not read it, but came across it in "The Whole Dog Journal", so thought I would share.

  2. Sounds interesting, thank you for sharing, I will check it out.