Should I Call a Vet? ….. 9 Doubtfull Situations with your Dog…

Last Updated: April 13, 2023

This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

As a dog owner, you probably go to great lengths to ensure that your dog is happy and healthy. But what do you do when the unexpected happens? 

Unfortunately, you can't control every situation and some things are simply out of your hands.

Whether you have a rambunctious dog that's constantly getting into trouble or have a pooch that's exhibiting some unnatural behavior, you may need to get help from a veterinarian.

With that being said, it can be difficult to determine when to call your vet. Because dogs can't clearly communicate what they're feeling, you need to understand when your furry friend needs immediate attention and when you can provide care at home. Understanding the difference can be a matter of life and death.

By knowing what to look for, how to read your dog's body language, and what situations are the most serious, you can save valuable time and get your dog help as soon as possible. Here are 9 doubtful situations you may experience.

Should i call a vet infographic
Should i Call a Vet?

1. My Dog Got Stung By A Bee or Wasp

These stinging insects can be very enticing to a dog. It's not uncommon for dogs to chase them around, using their mouth and paws to knock them out of the air. If they're not careful, this behavior can lead to a pretty serious sting.

Bee stings are just as painful for dogs as they are for humans. If they're stung on the nose or in the mouth, the pain is even worse. When your dog is stung, the bee or wasp's toxins are injected into the skin. This will lead to inflammation and redness. When this occurs, it's imperative that you monitor your dog's reaction and look out for breathing problems, collapse, and seizures.

If your dog is allergic, they can go into anaphylactic shock within minutes. While most stings aren't serious, it's a good idea to exercise caution and call a vet immediately. You should never waste time trying to remove the stinger, as they're difficult to find and can release more toxins if they're bothered.

Should I Call a Vet?

To be on the safe side, call a vet as soon as possible. Depending on your dog's reaction, they may instruct you to treat the sting with antihistamines.

If your dog was stung multiple times or the reaction is severe, you should call ahead and head straight to the office. You can use an ice pack in the meantime to control swelling.

2. My Dog Ate Food Past the Expiration Date

Due to the way dog food is labeled, it's very easy to feed dogs expired food. The "best buy" date on both canned and dry food doesn't indicate when a food was made or provide a hard date for expiration. This can make it difficult to determine if a food is good for consumption prior to purchasing it.

If your dog happens to eat food that's old, they may start to experience indigestion, diarrhea, and vomiting. This will occur because the preservatives in the food are no longer working, resulting in mold and bacteria growth. The rate in which this happens depends on whether or not the food is wet or dry.

One thing you shouldn't do when your dog eats old food is to continue feeding it to them. Issues will only worsen if they continue to eat it. Not only that, but they won't be receiving proper nutrition.

Should I Call the Vet?

In most cases, you don't need to call a vet. Your dog may experience some stomach issues for a bit, but they'll generally be alright as long as they don't eat any more.

However, if you feed your dog wet food that has a considerable amount of mold, you may want to give your vet a call. The bacteria may lead to serious foodborne illness.

3. My Dog Was Exposed to Cleaning Products

Cleaning products and owning a dog often go hand in hand. Unfortunately, this constant exposure puts your dog at risk. Licking a freshly-cleaned surface or simply inhaling fumes can be detrimental to a dog's health.

The toxic chemicals can cause a host of issues. Mild cases result in vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and more. More severe cases can result in chemical burns on the skin. Even if you don't see any physical signs of pain, pay attention to their behavior. They may be experiencing organ failure.

If you suspect poisoning, don't attempt to remedy the situation by neutralizing the chemicals. Instead, you can carefully try flushing the mouth with water. You should collect information about the cleaning product that was ingested and take samples of any vomit. This can prove to be helpful later on.

Should I Call a Vet?

Veterinarian care is crucial. You should contact a vet immediately and head to the animal hospital. Chemicals can work quickly to shut down organs and cause lasting damage.

The vet will use your information to determine their approach for treatment. They may pump the stomach, use charcoal to absorb the toxins, or administer antidotal treatments to help your dog.

4. My Dog is Showing Signs of Overheating and Looks Fatigued

Dogs aren't built to stay in the heat for prolonged periods of time. They don't sweat but rather regulate their temperature by panting. If they can't cool their bodies down using their respiratory system, they may start to overheat.

When this happens, your dog's internal temperature is rising. Some signs of overheating include heavy panting, significant drooling, and the inability to stand on their feet. Take a look at their gums as well. If they are turning slightly purple or pale, that means that they're not getting enough oxygen.

Immediately take the dog indoors to a cool area. Use room-temperature water to cool them off. Cool water will only restrict the blood vessels and worsen the problem. You can also use soaked towels under their arms, legs, and neck. Make sure to continually monitor their temperature with a thermometer to ensure that their temperature is dropping.

Should I Call a Vet?

Whether or not you contact a vet depends on the severity of the issue. You should always try to cool the dog down before visiting a vet, as the condition will worsen the longer they're overheated.

Because the cool-down process occurred without the vet, there's no way to determine how much damage was done unless you continually monitored their temperature. If they were 108 degrees or more, you should take the pooch to the vet for oxygen, fluids, and heavy monitoring.

5. My Dog Has Been Out in the Cold and Keeps Shivering

Prolonged exposure to the cold can lead to a host of issues, including hypothermia. When hypothermia occurs, your dog can't regulate their temperature by themselves, causing it to drop significantly. This can result in noticeable shivering alongside some other symptoms, including lethargy, low heart rate, and pale gums.

If you notice your dog shivering, do not leave them outside. The pup should be brought into a warm environment as soon as possible. Should the shivering continue, you need to take steps to bring the dog's temperature back up to normal. This can be done with warm blankets and a bottle filled with warm water.

The dog's temperature should be taken every 10 minutes. In the meantime, look out for pale and stiff skin. Depending on how long your dog was outside, they may also have signs of frostbite.

Should I Call the Vet?

With mild cases of hypothermia, there's no need to call a vet. You can easily bring their body temperature back up to normal at home. However, body temperature below 98-degrees requires professional help. Either way, you should attempt to raise their body temperature immediately. The veterinarian will use flushes and other methods to heat the dog up from within.

6. My Dog is Limping After a Fall or Accident

Like humans, dogs are susceptible to broken bones and soft tissue injuries. A serious fall or even a simple twist can cause significant pain. Your dog may be limping because of the pain they're feeling or because their normal range of motion is changed.

When this occurs, pay attention to how they're moving. A regular limp, whimpering, and the inability to stay upright for prolonged periods of time indicates a serious problem. You can gently examine the area. Look out for bruising and bleeding under the skin.

It's imperative that you not move the leg too much. This can cause even more pain and worsen the underlying issue. You should also avoid treating the injury yourself. Traditional pain medications are dangerous for dogs and makeshift splints or cages may cause the injury to heal incorrectly.

Should I Call the Vet?

Regardless of how small the injury may seem, you need to call the vet immediately. There's no way to tell how severe an injury is without the help of a professional. They will perform a number of tests, including an x-ray, to see how bad their leg is hurt. From there, they may recommend a proper splint, dog-friendly pain medications, and a proper treatment plan.

7. My Dog Suddenly Has Severe Diarrhea

Diarrhea that occurs suddenly usually isn't a cause for concern. However, it may require professional attention if it persists. Diarrhea happens due to one of four reasons.

Your dog may have too much food molecules in the intestine, resulting in excess water being drawn to the area. This is referred to as osmotic imbalance.

Another reason may be because bacteria and toxins are causing the intestines to excrete too much fluid. The intestine's ability to function and move food through can also cause an excess of fluid.

The most severe reason that diarrhea occurs is because of blood and fluid pushing into the intestine tissue through ulcers.

You should examine the severity and frequency of diarrhea. Look out for blood in the feces as well. You shouldn't give your dog any specific medications without fully understanding the cause of your dog's diarrhea.

Should I Call a Vet?

If the problem continues, you should definitely call a vet. They will perform a variety of tests to determine the cause, including a urinalysis, blood test, x-ray, and more. Not only that but your dog is likely dehydrated from the loss of water and fluid. The veterinarian will find a suitable treatment.

8. My Dog Stopped Eating or Drinking

Not eating or drinking can indicate a serious problem within your dog. While skipping a single meal isn't a huge deal, two or more days without touching their food is a big cause for concern. There are a number of reasons why this may be occurring.

Illness is a common reason for a loss of appetite. They may be experiencing kidney or liver failure that they can't express. It may even be a sign of cancer. Dental problems are another common cause. Broken teeth, oral tumors, or painful debris may make your dog turn away from food.

You shouldn't force your pup to eat when they don't want to. Changing their food or offering softer treats may get your pup to give it a try. If that's the case, the problem may be behavioral rather than medical. Either way, keep an eye on their habits and look out for changes in personality.

Should I Call a Vet?

If they don't start eating after 2 days, you need to call a vet. They can perform tests to find out why they're appetite has changed. Should they find a medical reason, veterinarians can create a plan or diet to supply the dog with necessary nutrients while the issue is being dealt with.

9. My Dog Swallowed an Object

With their inquisitive nature, dogs frequently chew and swallow things that they shouldn't. If this happens, they may start to show signs of pain. Look out for sensitive abdomens, lethargy, vomiting, and changes in appetite or behavior.

The severity of the situation depends entirely on the size and material of the object.

If the object gets stuck in the throat, they will start choking. You must act quickly to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Open the dog's mouth to see if the object is visible in their throat. If it's possible to remove it without causing harm, do so. Should the object have a string that's visible, don't pull on it. This can cause harm to the dog's throat.

Should I Call a Vet?

Regardless of how small the object was, you need to contact a vet immediately. Foreign objects don't do well in a dog's stomach. Depending on the material, they can experience poisoning and damage to their organs.

Veterinarians will use x-rays to find the object. They may sedate the dog to successfully remove it. If you know what the object is, make sure to inform the vet. This will give them a better idea of how to treat the problem.


Knowing when to call your vet can make all the difference. Even if you're unsure about the severity of the problem, it doesn't hurt to call. Many animal hospitals have emergency services that can answer questions around the clock and provide care when it's needed most.

Your pooch is part of the family, so you should take illnesses, accidents, and pain very seriously. Understanding what to do in the worst case scenario will ensure that you're prepared to handle anything with your pup.


Related Posts

About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.