Frequently Asked Questions by Dog Owners: Part 2
Our first Dog FAQ guide addressed common questions that pet parents ask their veterinarians.
Since there’s always more to cover when it comes to dog health and happiness, we figured we’d take on more topics of discussion that pop up in doctor’s office conversation:
Why Is My Dog Slow to Get Up in the Morning?
The most common reason that dogs are slower to get up in the morning is arthritis. After a night of sleep, dogs with arthritis may have stiff joints, which will make it harder for them to rise to their feet. Arthritis in dogs is underdiagnosed and, by definition, is an inflammation of the joints. This can occur in dogs of any age, but is most commonly seen in older, large- or giant-breed, and overweight dogs. If you notice that your dog is slow to get up, avoids stairs or elevated surfaces, or that they walk slowly after vigorous activity, they may have arthritis.
Arthritis is diagnosed based on a physical exam conducted by your veterinarian and further diagnostics, such as sedated radiographs or CT scan. Common treatment for dogs with arthritis includes:
- Glucosamine supplementation
- Veterinarian-approved anti-inflammatory medication
- Low-impact exercise, such as swimming
- Physical therapy
- Laser therapy
Just like in humans, arthritis is treatable and your pet can be kept comfortable with a combination of these therapies, geared for the best outcome based on your pet’s symptoms.
Why Is My Dog Limping?
Limping usually occurs when a dog is in too much pain to place their full weight on a limb.
Limping can occur due to:
- Soft tissue injury, such as a sprain or strain
- Orthopedic injury, such as a fracture, luxation, and/or arthritis
- Neurologic disease
The underlying cause of your dog’s lameness can be sussed out by your veterinarian with a physical and orthopedic exam, and x-rays (if needed). A limping dog should have their activity restricted to prevent further injury and may require medication to stay comfortable. Dogs that have soft tissue injuries often respond and recover with exercise restriction and anti-inflammatories, whereas dogs that suffer from orthopedic injuries often need surgery or a splint placed to help heal. Dogs with neurological disease may need a combination of both medical and surgical therapy to respond.
NEVER give your dog human medication unless directly instructed by a veterinarian.
What Do I Do if My Dog Swallowed Something?
Puppies and some adult dogs are prone to swallow all kinds of items, including pieces of toys or furniture, trash, or discarded food. Time is of the essence when a dog eats a foreign object, and they should be brought to their veterinarian as soon as possible. Vomiting can be induced by your veterinarian if your pet is seen within a 2-hour window of ingesting an object. This will hopefully clear the object before it causes any problems.
The safest way to induce vomiting in a dog is to give them a medication called apomorphine, which will be administered by your veterinarian. This medication is commonly administered as an IV injection, but some hospitals have it formulated into tablets that are placed in the conjunctiva of a dog’s eye. If the medication is given as an intravenous injection, vomiting usually occurs within 30 minutes. Using the tablets in the conjunctiva can take longer to induce vomiting.
After your dog vomits, the veterinarian will usually give a medication to help with nausea and prevent further episodes of vomiting. Another way to make your dog vomit at home is by administering hydrogen peroxide. This is risky and is not commonly recommended. Risks included aspiration of liquid into their lungs, damage to the stomach lining, and gastric ulcerations. Administering hydrogen peroxide at home is not the easiest or safest method for inducing vomiting in a dog.
The safest course of action if your dog ingests foreign material is to have them seen by a veterinarian. On occasion, it will be hard to determine if you dog ingested foreign material, in which case, inducing vomiting won’t be an option. If your dog is asymptomatic (feeling fine/acting healthy), your veterinarian may instruct you to monitor your dog closely for any signs of gastrointestinal obstruction.
Common signs that your dog has a gastrointestinal obstruction include:
- Normal appetite, but vomiting after eating
- Abdominal pain
If your dog is showing any of these clinical signs, your veterinarian will recommend radiographs or an abdominal ultrasound to look for an obstruction. If an obstruction is found, surgery or endoscopic removal will be recommended. Endoscopy can be used if the foreign material is still in your dog’s stomach and a video guided scope can visualize the foreign material and facilitate its removal.
If your dog ingests any type of medication, plant, or cleaning products, the ASPCA Poison Control Center should be contacted immediately to determine if treatment is needed.
For more answers to common dog questions, check out Part 3 of our FAQ.