By Rachel Hook
Unless you’re a veterinarian or you’ve been magically blessed with the gift of understanding animal language, it’s not always easy to figure out what might be ailing your pet.
As some of you may or may not know, when dogs are sick or injured they try hide it if at all possible. This goes back to their pack mentality, because in the wild when a member of the pack is sick or injured, the pack will either abandon or kill it. So when our domesticated friends are sick or hurting, sometimes we have to look at other behavioral cues to alert us to an issue.
At 7 years old, my dachshund Ollie is still as energetic as ever — jumping nearly two feet in the air at the sound of a rustling treat bag (or any bag of food for that matter), picking play fights with our pit bull, and jumping from couch to couch to share cuddles with me and my husband. But on Tuesday, I could tell he wasn’t acting like his usual spunky self.
When I got home from work Tuesday, Ollie walked up to me slowly like he had done something wrong. His head was down, his tail between his legs … seriously, he looked pathetic. I asked him, “What’s wrong, Peanut?” (That’s one of his many affectionate nicknames.) *Sad face*, he replied. So I stoop down to pet him, and as soon as I get to his hindquarters he lets out a huge yelp. Not good, I say. So I gently touch his backside again, and again he yelps. Left side? No yelp. Right side? Yelp. I walk away and tell him to come to me. He doesn’t limp, but I can tell he’s uncomfortable. He slowly plops down on the memory-foam kitchen mat and stares at me with those big ol’ “help me” eyes.
When you’re trying to initially diagnose your pet, it’s important to not push them too far. Pay attention to how they’re reacting to your touch, and if they are growling, yelping, giving you the “side eye” or seeming very tense, then you should probably leave further “testing” to your veterinarian. These are warning signs that, if ignored, could lead to your dog unwillingly snapping at or biting you to say, “Stop that!”
I’ve seen no improvement in Ollie’s behavior over the past couple of days, so I’ve set up a vet appointment. I’m scared to find out what’s wrong, but I know my “Olliekins” is in pain and needs my help.
Keep your fingers crossed for us. I’ll post an update Friday afternoon.