Helping paws: when a wag isn’t…

Pet Corner: When something is not right

When a dog isn’t up to it and appears clearly unwell, look out for the first sign – the tail, the usually happy, rotating emotion organ, isn’t wagging. Something is not right.

The listless pooch keeps pacing, not wanting to settle. Could an older dog’s joints be inflamed? Or is a younger dog running a temperature or off its food? Not at the front door when whistled for “walkies”?

The first thing to check is the surface area of the dog. Lumps where they shouldn’t be? Constipation, runny tummy? Bites? Could it have been a snake or insect? Tick fever? An unexpected wound or irritation? Perhaps a thorn or a splinter in the paw? Gentle but helpful probing is often needed. Sometimes a brave opening of the jaws to see if the gums are okay. Tongue not swollen? It could be something doggie friend has digested and shouldn’t have. Check for the missing toy, shoe or food scraps from the bin. Whoops!

Can’t find anything obvious? Check your local veterinary services through the browser. There is always a helpful vet and a number near to you. There are several veterinary hospitals that will be listed, with the opening hours and usually an emergency number for urgent contact.

Dogs often disappear for ages, chew some grass and then vomit up their ill-gotten gains. Often the poor dog will be heaving and drinking lots of water. Sometimes it is a bacterial infection from rotting, decayed debris that has been digested. Whatever it is, your pet needs proper care and medication. Check the card for injection/de-worming dates, especially in younger dogs. First, consult with a vet, although some ‘farmácias’ are also able to help. They carry good stocks of animal treatments and cures.

Never treat an animal with human medication or dosage, unless advised by a professional. Knowing the weight of the dog in kilograms will help. Breed problems may be an issue with dogs of a certain age. Whatever the ailment is, don’t leave it too long. We humans are probably the worst to be prompted into action with our own health care. For a canine or feline friend, the timing of treatment can be of importance, the difference between quick recovery or unhappy lingering. Act quickly. A vet will advise how to take temperatures. Always use a thermometer specifically for the animal. Invest in a pet home-care first-aid kit. It will save a lot of problems in the long run.

APAA contact: Jenny Clarke,,

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