Behavioral changes in dogs

Small changes in a dog’s behavior can often help us find problems early. It is easy to dismiss, or not even really notice small changes in your pet’s behavior. That is why we ask you to pay attention to what is normal for your dog.

-How often do you see your dog drink? Some dogs gulp gallons at a time, creating lakes on the floor, while others may rarely be seen at the water bowl. Pay attention to your dog’s normals – does he/she always drink after eating? Notice seasonal changes (hot weather should increase water intake).

-How does your dog eat? Is every meal his or her last, or does the bowl sit half full for the entire day?

-How often does your dog need to go out?

-How does your dog respond to an invitation to play, go on a walk or cuddle time?

-When does your dog normally sleep and wake?

-Does your dog follow you from room to room or act independently of you?

-How easily does your dog get onto furniture, up or down stairs or change positions from sitting to standing or the reverse? Many older dogs will begin to change positions with care, males may stop lifting their legs, and dogs may suddenly stop and or trip getting on the couch. These are not normal changes, rather they are often caused by pain that can be easily addressed.

-When you walk your dog does he or she pull you along for the whole walk or lag behind? Does he or she hate the heat or flag after a few miles? Again, fitness is individual and seasonal, but any sudden change that cannot be easily explained away by circumstances should cause concern.

These and other behaviors can change naturally with time, but they can also change if your dog is not feeling well, or is in pain. Behavior can also change when hormones that are normally in balance begin to shift due to various diseases. Your ability to know what is ‘normal’ for your dog will ensure that disease and pain are caught and treated early, allowing your dog live a longer and healthier life.

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