Four Dog Symptoms Overlooked by Unsuspecting Owners

Many owners overlook symptoms of illness in their dogs simply because they aren't aware of the serious nature of such symptoms. Illnesses such as diabetes, heart worm and arthritis may trigger only mild symptoms at first, making it difficult for owners to see that something is wrong.

Tooth Decay

The number one dog symptom overlooked by pet owners is tooth decay. Four-fifths of dogs experience tooth decay leading to gum disease by age three. Two thirds of pet owners fail to properly maintain their dog's dental hygiene.

Dogs require the same dental care attention that people do, but they are wrong. Tooth decay can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause tooth loss, bone loss leading to broken bones, and even heart problems.

Symptoms of tooth decay include bleeding, inflamed gums, cracked and broken teeth, yellow-ish brown tartar build-up along the gumline, and lesions, ulcers or abcesses within the mouth.

Feed your dog dry kibbles instead of, or in addition to, canned food. Brush your dog's teeth daily; get him a veterinary dental exam and teeth cleaning at least once a year. Dog dental treats and oral rinses can help fend off tooth decay.


Coughing is the first symptom of heart worm, a serious parasitical infection that can lead to death. Heart worms are spread by mosquito bites. When the worms mature inside your dog's body, they infest the chambers of the heart, the lungs, and sometimes, even the brain. Heart worms are easily preventable with a monthly dose of medication.

If your dog begins coughing, even mildly, see your vet as soon as possible. Early detection is key to the treatment of heart worms. Once acquired, heart worms are very difficult to treat, and most dogs die from the complications involved in treatment.

Excessive Thirst and Frequent Urination

Excessive thirst and frequent urination are among the first symptoms of diabetes. Dogs with diabetes may also experience weight loss accompanied by increased appetite. Diabetes is a very serious chronic illness which requires careful treatment. Diabetes in dogs can be deadly if left untreated.

Diabetes in dogs is a difficult condition to manage. Your diabetic dog's diet will need to be carefully monitored. Your dog may require insulin injections to help control his diabetes.

Early detection of diabetes is crucial to successful treatment. If your dog is drinking and urinating more than usual, see your vet right away.

Decrease In Level Of Activity

A sudden decrease in your dog's level of activity may be a symptom of acute illness, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. A gradual decline over time isn't simply laziness or old age; it could be a symptom of arthritis. Glucosamine supplements are often effective in relieving or even eliminating the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. A small dose of aspirin (but NEVER acetominophen or ibuprofen) can ease your dog's arthritis pain.

If glucosamine supplements don't help your dog's arthritis symptoms, your vet may prescribe a medication like Rymadil to ease your dog's pain. Rymadil is an anti-inflammatory medication developed especially for the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory illnesses in dogs.