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Your Jack Russell Puppy Care Checklist - Jack Russell Crazy Issue #35
February 24, 2014

Is he faking it? When to take your Jack to the vet!

Growing up, I would often fake being sick to stay home from school (if you are reading this, sorry Mom!). Why go through a torturous day of classes when I could get the privilege of lying in my parents’ bed watching tv and being catered to hand and foot by my Mother. I got my meals brought on special trays and a cool wash cloth on my forehead. Now that was living! However the threat of going to the doctor usually “cured” my illness pretty quickly. With our Jacks it’s often very hard to judge whether they are sick or not. And if they are sick or hurt, at what point do you bring them to the vet? Vets, like doctors are not cheap, but necessary in some situations. Your dog is not verbally able to express when he’s sick so here is a guide to when you should bring your Jack in to the vet ASAP.

1. Trauma- Has your Jack been hit by a car or been in a nasty fight with another dog? Even if your Jack appears to be fine or there are no visible injuries, it is a good rule of thumb to take your Jack in because there could be internal lacerations or bleedings.

2. Difficulty breathing – Is your Jack wheezy or choking or has a raspy breath. Breathing problems usually indicate some sort of serious health issue whether your Jack swallowed a foreign object or there is something wrong with his heart. This can be caused by a foreign body in the throat, allergic reaction, heart disease or pulmonary disease. If there is a foreign body present it is important not to try and extract it yourself – doing so may lodge the object even deeper, completely obstructing the airway.

3. In coordination or extreme lethargy – A healthy dog is one that is alert. If you have trouble rousing your dog or he seems to be stumbling around or unable to get up, please take your Jack in. This could signal a serious neurological issue or a ruptured intervertebral disc. Neither of which is good.

4. Seizures – Seizures consist of consist of uncontrollable shaking and tremors, loss of consciousness, paddling with the legs and possible loss of bowel or urinary control. The most common cause of seizures in dogs is epilepsy but also hypoglycemia and toxicities can cause it. If your Jack does have epilepsy talk to your vet about what type of seizure counts as an emergency since seizures are more frequent and not all seizure with dogs who have epilepsy would be considered an emergency.

5. Eating something toxic – If you see an empty bottle of a household cleaner, chewed up batteries, an empty bag of chocolate or other known toxins that your Jack could have potentially ingested then you should check with your vet to see what they would suggest. Here is a list of items for you to check if you are not sure if an ingested item is toxic or not: poison-control/poison-control-okay-or-no-way. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house at all times in case you are ever asked to induce vomiting. Dog Vomiting/Diarrhea –Vomiting and diarrhea is not uncommon in dogs and most vets would say to wait a day or two to see if it clears up. However if it is accompanied by blood or major lethargic behavior then you should take it seriously. And dogs who have another serious medical issue (e.g., cancer) should not wait.

6. Distended Abdomen – An abdomen that is distended or more commonly referred to as “bloat” is a very serious and life threatening issue with dogs. Abdominal distension may be accompanied by dry heaves, retching, weakness, collapse and difficulty breathing. Abdominal distension can be caused by air trapped in the stomach which can cause the stomach to twist over on itself.

7. Vision Issues – Eye problems tend to escalate very quickly in dogs. Look for redness, swelling, excessive tearing and discharge, cloudiness or pawing at eyes

8. Urinary Issues – Urinary blockages can be life threatening. If you notice blood in the urine or any issues with urine coming out please consult your vet right away.

9. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following signs lasting more than one to two days:

• Poor Appetite

• Lethargy

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Trouble walking/limping

• Weakness

• Excessive salivation

• Excessive thirst (increased water intake)

• Frequent and/or inappropriate urination

• Constipation

• Excessive scratching or dull, dry, or flaky hair coat, loss of fur

• Nasal discharge or congestion

• Displays of mild to moderate pain (such as crying when a specific area is touched)

• Lumps and bumps that seem to be getting bigger

In general, you should contact your vet if you notice any signs that strike you as out of character for your Jack. Any noticeable change can warrant a visit. It is better to be cautious than to wait. In some cases, your vet may be able tell you if something does not need to be addressed right away. In other situations, your vet may advise you make an appointment or to go to an emergency clinic, depending on the urgency.

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'Til Next Time...

Take care - and take care of your JRT!

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Thanks for reading and best wishes,

Tom McSherry and the Jack Russell Team

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