Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Severe Pain an Emergency?

I was quite alarmed to see that 12.5% of the survey participants don't believe that severe pain is an emergency. 

I am still trying to wrap my brain around that fact. Yet, injuries aside, pain is one of the top reasons for visits to human ER. Severe pain is our body's way of alerting to a serious problem. The main motivation for rushing to the ER is both the pain itself as well as the fear that comes with it.

Does pain hurt dogs less than us?

It hurts just the same. Moreover, by the time most people realize their dog is in severe pain, the pain is typically way past bearable. Dogs tend to hide pain and not everybody can read pain signs easily.

The causes of severe pain in dogs are the same as in people. Severe injury or something very very wrong.

In general, the level of pain reflects the seriousness of the injury or illness. And did you know that under the right circumstances pain can actually kill a person?

The shock factor aside, nobody wants to see their dog suffer. I hope the problem isn't caring but understanding. And while the pain itself isn't that likely to kill your dog, the problem that is causing it could.

If you think your dog is in a great deal of pain, it is extremely likely that their pain level is way higher than what you figure.

Some conditions that cause severe pain include bone cancer, IVDD (spinal disc injuries and disease), GDV (bloat), pancreatitis, enteritis, meningitis, fractures, pneumothorax, foreign body obstructions ... Have no doubt that these things are extremely painful and would send a person to an ER screaming.

And no, OTC human pain meds are not the answer. They are not likely to provide enough relief and you are likely to cause more harm than good.

If your dog is in pain, see a vet. If your dog is in severe pain, see a vet immediately. Just as you would for yourself.

Related articles:
Doe Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part V)

Continued from part IV

Jasmine's first Winter.

Regardless of how Jasmine's last days played out, she needed those meds. They were supposed to help her. There was no way of knowing what was going to follow. I was concerned about the steroids, but there was no doubt she needed them. I was extremely concerned about the nasty antibiotics, but the one we used was the most gentle of the available bunch. The morphine was perhaps the last straw, but she was in extreme pain ...

Did I become more cautious?

I couldn't get more conservative with medicating my dogs because I have been extremely conservative already.

Every time I might need to medicate my dog I consider other options first. If drugs are deemed unnecessary, the vet(s) and I discuss whether or not there are more than one option to choose from and which would be least likely to cause problems. Then I read the product sheet carefully to see what I might expect.

Wherever I can, I opt for a non-drug solution.

But sometimes that is either the best or the only option.

Our next negative experience was with Cookie and Advantix.

Cookie is almost always in a hunting mode.

Cookie is a hunter at heart. She's a bush dog. She will go where no man has ever gone. One time she came back from the farm with three ticks on her face.

Jasmine was a hiker and was always content exploring the world mostly walking on trails. JD was a follower and would just go whether everybody else did. Cookie, however, has to go where the critters are, which rarely involves paths or trails.

With ticks slowly taking over the world and Lyme disease and other tick-borne disease becoming a bigger and bigger concern, we had to consider how we were going to protect Cookie.

After a lot of discussion and deliberation considering efficacy and safety, we have chosen Canine Advantix.

At the time it was the best and most effective option. Plus it's supposed to also work against mosquitoes, biting flies and lice.

It is applied topically. The first time Cookie was a little bit upset as if it was making her itchy. Her reaction was mild, and we figured it might have been the sensation of the drops on her skin. It didn't last long. The next time, though, she was acting as if attacked by fire ants. She was obviously miserable, and it wasn't getting better but worse.

We quickly washed it off with dish soap, then all of her with her shampoo and rinsed and rinsed. Shortly after we got it off her, she calmed down.

I talked to the vet, and she said that sometimes it might make the skin feel numb.

Interestingly, the product label is pretty vague about that. The side effects listed are skin irritation such as redness, scratching, or other signs of discomfort. It also states that vomiting or diarrhea have been reported, and if those or other side effects such as lethargy occur to consult a veterinarian.

There was no redness or visible irritation of the skin, but there was no question we weren't going to use it again.

Not a really big deal as far as drug reactions are concerned, I suppose, though Cookie would not agree.

What would happen if we didn't know what to do or did nothing?

With any of these things, it is always a question of lesser of the evil.

But sometimes that can be really hard to determine.

Related articles:
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part I)
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part II)
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part III)
Our Dog's History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part IV)

Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part I)
Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part II)

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: New Year's Resolutions, Tear Stains, and more ...

New Years Resolutions for a Healthier Dog: A Month-By-Month Guide

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

Photo Binyamin Mellish

Do you make New Year's resolutions? Do you make New Year's resolutions for your dog? I am not a resolution making kind of person. I believe that if one wants to do something, they just do it. Though we did make one resolution not long ago, it was a "Nail a Day" resolution. We kept it up and worked quite well. Since Cookie started seeing a physical therapist regularly in the past year, though, we just have it done there again. It is easier yet.

Dr. Kay has some great resolution tips, one for each month. Most of these things we already have covered, except a pet trust. I would love to have that done but it doesn't seem to be an option in Canada. I should figure out something, though.

Check out Dr. Kay's awesome suggestions for New Year's resolutions here.

The Health Benefits Mussels Provide Our Pets

Dr. Patrick Mahaney/The Honest Kitchen Blog

While the article is mostly a product review (a good product, though), the benefits of mussels are independent on any one product. I have to admit I never tried giving my dogs mussels but read about it enough times that I am convinced I should try. I don't know whether I'm going to start with this product or just go and buy some, but it's time for me to try and see whether Cookie will like them. She might love it, she might hate it--she's a very spoiled and picky girl but I imagine most dogs would love it.

So what are the benefits of mussels? Mussels are a high protein food, rich in omega fatty acids (EPA and DHA), full of vitamins and minerals, while low in calories. What more could one ask for in a treat? Not the cheapest thing out there but even including a little bit can enrich a dog's nutrition.

The real truth about getting rid of pet tear stains

Dr. Marty Becker

Our society is all about quick and easy solutions. "How can I make this problem go away quickly and easily?" is the most common question. And, of course, companies want their foot in, offering a wide variety of easy fixes.

Yes, there are products for easy tear stain removal. But is using them a good idea? There are two reasons not to use them. Firstly, they contain low levels of antibiotics and have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. More importantly, the best way to make a problem go away is by figuring out and addressing the cause.

What can cause tear stains? Your dog may have blocked tear ducts, ingrown eyelashes, an eye or even dental infection. Would you expect a tear stain removal product address and fix such problems? It might make your dog's face look cleaner but it won't make your dog neither happier or healthier.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Shaking or Trembling an Emergency?

65.50% of the survey participants believe shaking or trembling is an emergency. What do you think? Is in an emergency or not?

Shaking or trembling falls into the category of "it depends."

It's one of the things when knowing your dog and knowing your breed is important.

Daughter's Chi shakes even when she gets excited to see somebody. Some small dogs shake or tremble at the drop of a hat. Yet, small dogs are also highly susceptible to hypothermia and hypoglycemia, both of which can be deadly.

With very few exceptions, shaking or trembling is a sign of an emergency to me.

Some very serious causes of shaking or trembling include:
  • pain
  • hypoglycemia
  • poisoning
  • kidney failure
  • inflammatory brain diseases or seizure disorders
  • Addisonian crisis
  • Distemper
  • neurologic disorder
  • neuromuscular diseases (e.g. myasthenia gravis)
  • liver disease leading to hepatic encephalopathy

Bottom line, unless I had an excitable Chihuahua if my dog starts shaking or trembling, I'm calling a vet.

Related articles:
Doe Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part IV)

Continued from part III

If I was being careful with meds after Jasmine's adverse reaction to NSAIDs, I became right down paranoid after the horror caused by the Buprenorphine.

It almost killed her and cost her a week at ICU and a month of recovery.

Strangely, as a wild twist of fate, it also likely saved her life but I wouldn't consider that a standard rule for drug adverse reactions.

Being as careful as we became and opting for non-drug solutions every time we could, we had a few years free of medication-related horrors. Jasmine's file had two red stickers on it - no NSAIDs and no Buprenorphine.

There were a couple of occasions when I almost got talked into putting Jasmine on steroids but I persevered and we handled things without them.

Everything was fine until Jasmine's neck, which has been a ticking bomb all along, blew.

That fall, she was doing amazingly well. Vibrant, vital, full of life, she looked like she had at least two more full years in her easily. And then, without any warning, she became a train wreck. At first, I had no idea what I was looking at. All I knew was that something was very wrong.

That was the day I agreed to steroids.

If there were a time and place to use them, that was it. Jasmine was in terrible pain and needed relief fast. She got steroids as well as a shot of morphine.

She looked pretty horrible but given her diagnoses it would have been expected. It took a couple of days for her to start feeling reasonably comfortable. Obviously, she was on strict exercise restrictions; just the fact she didn't really care was a sign she was in a lot of pain.

Slowly, she started being able to go outside for short, easy walks. At the same time, it was determined she needed her dental done. As soon as she looked like she got over the "neck event", it was scheduled, bearing taking high precautions to minimize neck manipulations during the procedure. Her lower front teeth, that had been slowly declining reached a point when they needed to come out. The surgery went smoothly; she returned home with medications and another shot of morphine.

Something wasn't right, though.

She was anxious, trying to pace around, while at the same time barely able to stand. Both her wrong and back were extremely "droopy." She needed to lay down and rest but she couldn't/wouldn't no matter how hard we tried.

It didn't really look like pain from her neck. It was suspected that she wasn't dealing with the anesthesia as well as she used to. The solution was letting it get out of her system. You can only imagine how sorry I was that I agreed to doing the dental, however much it needed to have been done.

And yes, she had fresh pre-op blood work and the protocol used was the same one she never had issues with before.

In my mind, I have decided not to even put her through anesthesia again.

She bounced back in about 24 hours. She got weaned off the steroids and started enjoying longer and longer walks. Things started getting back to where they should be. We were extremely careful with her and we did have some challenges and setbacks, but overall things looked pretty good. It seemed that she was going to be okay once again.

Until April. 

When Jasmine got her first ever UTI, it wasn't a big surprise. With any kind of mobility challenges, it can happen easily. It got treated and went away. But only to return. To do things properly, we ran a culture and found out that this time around she had a resistant strain. The choice of antibiotics to which this strain would respond to was limited to a few nasty options.

Even though the least nasty antibiotic was selected, the effects from it were severe.

Jasmine was nauseous, didn't want to eat, and Serenia barely made a dent in that.

I was on the phone with her vet, discussing all this, trying to see how we can help her get through this. Not five minutes after we hung up, I was on the phone again.
"Dr. Rae wants to know what has changed in last five minutes," the receptionist asked. Yes, I realized we just talked for half an hour.
"A lot has changed," I answered, "Jasmine got up."

Jasmine got up and it was very obvious that her neck had another major setback. We were on our way.

Jasmine got another shot of morphine and was put on steroids once again.

What followed made it clear that it wasn't the anesthesia but the morphine what made her so miserable after her dental.

Morphine, which was supposed to be her friend, became her enemy.

You can see here what shape she was in. This time she was not getting better but worse. On top of all that, her liver was now enlarged and painful.

Those were her last days. Between the steroids, nasty antibiotic and the morphine, her body was unable to cope any longer.

Continued here

Related articles:
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part I)
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part II)
Our Dog's History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part III)

Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part I)
Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part II)

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Warts, Cancer Immunotherapy, and more ...

All About Dog Warts: Types, Causes, and Treatments

Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD

Papillomas, also referred to as warts, are generally harmless. The biggest danger is confusing them for something more serious. That's why making assumptions without a confirmation is never a good idea. Jasmine had a couple of confirmed papillomas, they didn't bother her and didn't cause any issues whatsoever. Cookie has couple of bumps that look like warts at first sight but turns out those are skin tags.

Papillomas, or warts, are caused by a viral infection. They usually go away on their own as the immune system responds and takes care of it. There are times, though when veterinary treatment is needed. In rare cases, warts can turn into cancerous tumors. If a wart sticks around for longer than three to five months, it should be treated.

Sometimes, the sheer volume and location can be a problem.

Unlike skin tags, papillomas can be contagious to other dogs.

Read Dr. Coates' overview of warts here.

Cancer Immunotherapy for Dogs

Dr. Jean Dodds

Some concepts in veterinary medicine are closer to my heart than others. Immunotherapy is one of those that resonate with me and makes sense to my logic. Whether it's for allergies, cancer, or anything else under the sun where the immune system should be involved in the cure. In theory, a healthy, strong immune system should be able to tackle anything that gets thrown at it, be it infections or cancers. With cancer, the problem isn't that some cells get messed up. The problem is when they don't get destroyed and removed.

Radiation and chemotherapy attack cells of similar characteristics, such as fast-dividing cells. But cancer cells aren't the only ones that divide fast. There are many healthy cells which need to do that for the body to function, such as cells in the gastrointestinal tract, blood cells, skin cells, and other. The main problem with chemotherapy is that it isn't discriminate enough.

On the other hand, antibodies, for example, are highly discriminate.

Cancer immunotherapy works in a number of ways. Vaccines used in cancer treatment work on the same principle than those used to prevent infectious diseases, except that they function as a cure rather than prevention.

Then there are treatments that simply "wake up" the immune system to notice what's going on and to do something about it.

Read Dr. Dodds' review of cancer immunotherapy in dogs here.

Veterinary ECC Small Talk on Activated Charcoal

Dr. Shailen Jasani

Veterinary ECC Small Talk podcasts are meant for veterinarians but I love listening to them. Some of the topics are beyond the realm of information that can be of any use to a dog owner but some of it, I believe, is just relevant to me as to a veterinarian. I found the podcast on nutritional management of acute pancreatitis very interesting and useful.

The latest episode deals with activated charcoal. I have activated charcoal in my dog first aid kit and I have used it a couple of times. Last time I gave it JD when I suspected that his neurological issues were s a bad reaction to his meds. I had to laugh, though, when I was talking to the vet and mentioned that I did that, she seemed quite concerned. "You gave him activated charcoal?" she asked. I said yes and explained I have it in my first-aid kit. She was very relieved, "Oh, good, I thought you might have given charcoal from a BBQ." Knowing the crazy stuff people sometimes do I don't really blame her for making sure that's not what I did. Though she should know me better.

To learn about the indications, pros, and cons of using activated charcoal, check out the podcast. And, of course, be aware that if you suspect actual poisoning, don't just use activated charcoal when you should be on your way to the emergency vet instead.

Signs you have to bring your dog to a veterinarian immediately!

Dr. Justine Lee

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?

93.75% of you who took my survey do consider difficulty breathing and emergency. I am, however, quite concerned about the remaining 6.25%.

If your dog having difficulty breathing doesn't send you to the emergency vet, what would?

In her guest article, Dr. Coates put difficulty breathing as the first one on the list! Dr. Barchas on dogster puts it first on the list. Dr. Justine Lee, in her article on Pet Health Network, puts it first on the list.

If you had difficulty breathing, would you seek emergency care? I would.

Difficulty breathing is absolutely, most definitely, an emergency.

"... After three minutes without breathing it’s all over. If your dog is having trouble breathing, or is “breathing funny,” making alarming noises when he breathes, or is puffing his lips when he breathes, you need to get to the vet immediately."

~Dr. Eric Barchas, dogster

"Any time your dog is struggling to breathe, that's an emergency."

~Dr. Andy Roark

Related articles:
Doe Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?

When is it an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part III)

Continued from part II

Luckily, our first experience with adverse drug reactions didn't end up in any major disaster, just a big scare and a wake-up call. It could have, though.

It also meant that Jasmine could not have any type of NSAID, ever. That became quite a useful exercise in finding alternatives to manage her pain whether from arthritis or from injuries, surgeries and anything else under the sun.

Paired with her food allergies, which also dramatically limited our choices of supplements, it was quite a work-out in researching and finding solutions.

We also became extremely careful about any medication she would be given.

I never looked at a bottle of meds the same.

And while I was always very conservative medicating my dogs, I always look for non-drug solutions first.

With all the precautions, little we realized we were in for much bigger disasters to come. And we did not expect one when we just took Jasmine for x-rays.

Her episodes of panting, pacing, and general distress were becoming worse and more frequent. Having considered and ruled out many options, it was decided to x-ray her heart and lungs to see whether the problem was there after all. What didn't occur to us that she would come so close to not coming back home to us from that.

Hubby dropped her off at the vet and went to run some errands. It was supposed to be a couple-hour deal; quick and easy.

Instead of getting a call that Jasmine was ready to be picked up to go home, he got a call that Jasmine suffered severe hyperthermia, and they were going to keep her until they can get her stabilized. What???

As Jasmine was coming from her anesthesia, she seemed in pain. This can happen from the manipulation needed to get the right images. It was only logical that her vet gave her a shot of pain med to get her comfortable. It was the pain med, Buprenorphine, that triggered her hyperthermia. Her temperature spiked. There is an antidote which they gave her to reverse it. It took quite a while to get her temperature back to normal.

That day we almost killed our dog.

Technically we didn't do it, but we brought her in for the x-rays. And everything else happened from there. Jasmine was in very bad shape. Once stabilized enough, it was decided that she'd go home where she'd be happier and more comfortable. She looked terrible, barely able to walk at all. Could only get up with help and needed support while walking otherwise she kept stumbling and falling.

We were told she should improve by morning.

We all slept on the kitchen floor with her for moral support and also to be able to help her if she needed anything. We were all awaiting the morning when she should be feeling better.

But she wasn't better, she was worse.

With a lot of help, she barely made it to potty and when she peed her pee was brown!

She also had bruising on her tongue and belly. We immediately took her to an emergency vet where further horror unfolded. I wrote about that already.

This little adventure fried her muscles, fried her liver and fried her platelets. It bought her a week stay in ICU in our teaching hospital and a month of recovery before she was back to normal.

What the heck happened?

It was conclusively determined that the Buprenorphine triggered all that. It was not, however, determined why. There were reports that this drug can cause hyperthermia in cats but it is unheard of in a dog. There was nothing in her history or blood work that would predict a problem with this drug. And yet it almost killed her.

This was beyond any wake-up calls. This was living in a twilight zone.

Related articles:
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part I)
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part II)

Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part I)
Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part II)

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Primer on Cysts

Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
and Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS

Photo Pxabay

Cysts are hollow sacs containing liquid or solid material.  

Some tumors have centers that are cystic, but this discussion covers only cysts that are not cancerous. Common cysts in dogs include follicular cysts, sweat gland cysts, congenital cysts, and cysts secondary to trauma.

Follicular cysts are particularly prone to secondary infection by bacteria.

Cysts usually appear as soft, fluid-filled swellings under the skin that are not fixed, ie, they can be moved around in a small area.  Typically, cysts are not painful.

Cysts occasionally rupture, resulting in infected and inflamed tissues in the area.

Your veterinarian may be able to drain your dog's cyst by inserting a needle and drawing out the fluid.  However, cysts typically re-fill after being drained.  A sample of the fluid can be examined under the microscope to try and identify the type of cyst.  A biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Infected cysts can be treated with antibiotics, but surgery to remove the cyst is generally needed to prevent it from recurring.  

Other treatments may be necessary if there is a primary or underlying cause of the cysts. Cysts caused by trauma usually resolve with time.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Abscesses, Diabetic Emergencies, and more ...

Preventing and Handling Diabetic Emergencies

Dr. Donna Spector/Vetstreet

Hubby's cousin died last week. He was diagnosed with diabetes and decided to manage it on his own using remedies and tips found online.  I'm serious. He thought it was a bright idea. Clearly, it wasn't. There are other aspects to successful management, such as diet and consistent routine, but you just cannot manage diabetes without insulin.

Diabetes is a dangerous condition and needs to be treated with all seriousness and managed properly. And even with the best tools and care, diabetic emergencies can happen. Hypoglycemia is the most common diabetic emergency. It means that sugar levels in the blood drop too low. It happens when too much sugar is removed, whether by accidental insulin overdose, or not enough sugar in the blood to start with such as with a dog who isn't eating well or misses a meal etc.

Learn about diabetic emergencies, and how to prevent and handle them here.

Abscesses in Dogs and Cats – Painful Pockets of Pus

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

An abscess is a pocket of pus. Pus is a thick fluid that consists of white blood cells, bacteria, tissue debris, and serum. At an infection site, neighboring healthy cells from a "wall" to contain it. An abscess can form anywhere. Superficial abscesses are easy enough to see or feel. Jasmine had a huge abdominal abscess nobody knew about until a freak combination of events alerted us to its existence. Those are the most dangerous because you might not know there is a problem until the abscess ruptures. And then you might have a huge problem.

Learn about abscesses and their causes here.

My dog is vomiting 

Dr. Justine Lee

According to an emergency specialist, Dr. Lee, vomiting is a number one reason for ER visits. Those are the dogs who are lucky that their parents know what to do.

How many times does your need to vomit for it to be an emergency? For me, the rule of thumb is one vomit - no vomit. That, however, depends on what else I"m seeing. When my dog throws up but looks otherwise happy and healthy, looking for food and acting normally, I let the one vomit go. When Cookie came down with pancreatitis, she vomited only once. But she was also lethargic and overall looking unwell. Everything always ought to be considered as part of a big picture.

Some other aspects to consider when your dog is vomiting are frequency, time of day, material found in the vomit ... And don't forget that unproductive retching with no vomit coming out can be the biggest emergency of them all.

Find Dr. Lee's comprehensive article to learn when you should take your vomiting dog to the emergency vet.

Heart Disease in a Young Dog

Dr. Greg Martinez

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?

Only 9.38% of the blog readers who took my survey believe that panting is an emergency. Is it or is it not?

Most of the time, panting is not an emergency.

In fact, most of the time, panting is not a medical problem at all. But it can be. A panting dog who becomes quiet, recumbent, and lethargic, is, in some cases, a dying dog.

How can one tell the difference?

How can you know whether your dog's panting is normal, a medical issue or an actual emergency?

Firstly, assess the circumstances. Has your dog been running and playing? Is your dog excited? How warm is the weather or environment? This is when knowing what is normal for your dog is very helpful.

Is there no obvious explanation or reason?

Are there any other concerning signs?

Medically significant reasons for excessive panting:

Medically significant reasons for excessive panting include obesity, pain, fever, heatstroke, heart or respiratory diseases, hormonal imbalances, even with poisoning.

Panting is an emergency under these circumstances:

  • if your dog is also showing signs of severe pain or distress
  • if your dog has been exposed to high temperatures
  • if your dog is restless, unable to lie down comfortably, trying to vomit unsuccessfully
  • if your dog is showing signs of weakness or lethargy
  • if your dog seems unresponsive or disoriented
  • if your dog's gums are any than normal color (normal gum color depends on the breed; typically it's pink)

Always consider things in context and when in doubt seek veterinary care.

Related articles:
Doe Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.