How to Tell if Your Dog Is Sick: 14 Common Symptoms

Just as humans do, our furry friends experience days when they’re not feeling their best. As a pet parent, it can be concerning when you notice a change in your dog’s behavior or appearance. Dogs, being the lovable creatures they are, often try to hide their discomfort.

Know the signs of illness in your dog, like grumpiness, diarrhea, lack of appetite or water intake, excessive affection, coughing, runny eyes, dull coat, scratching, and more. Seek vet help if any changes persist. Early detection is vital to managing health issues. Trust your instincts!

1. They Seem “Off”

Dogs have their unique personalities, and you, as a pet owner, know them best. If your dog seems a bit “off,” it could be an early sign of illness. An “off” dog might display subtle changes in behavior, like reduced enthusiasm for favorite activities, or show signs of discomfort.

Such changes might indicate anything from a minor upset tummy to more serious conditions. It’s crucial to observe your pet closely and contact your vet if the changes persist or worsen.

Remember, early detection is vital in managing health issues effectively.

They Seem "Off"

2. They Seem Grumpy

Dogs, much like people, can exhibit mood changes when they’re not feeling well. If your typically friendly and playful pooch suddenly seems grumpy or becomes unusually “snappy,” this could indicate that they’re unwell.

These changes can be due to discomfort, pain, or feeling generally unwell. Be sure not to ignore these signs, as they may be your dog’s way of communicating that something’s not right.

If these behavioral changes persist, consider taking your dog to the vet for a checkup to rule out any potential health issues.

3. They’re Keeping To Themselves

Dogs are social animals, often seeking company and interaction. If your pet starts isolating themselves or prefers solitude over their usual playtime, it could be a sign of sickness.

Dogs may withdraw when they’re in pain or discomfort, as a way to cope. If your pup is suddenly more aloof or spends a lot of time alone, it’s a good idea to monitor them for any additional symptoms.

Don’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian if your dog’s behavior continues to be out of character. Remember, you know your pet best – trust your instincts.

4. They Have Diarrhea

Diarrhea in dogs can be a symptom of many health issues, ranging from dietary indiscretion to infections or parasites. It’s important to note the frequency, consistency, and color of your dog’s stool as this can provide vital clues to their health status.

If your dog’s diarrhea persists for more than a day or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or lethargy, it’s time to visit your vet. Don’t ignore this sign as it can lead to dehydration if not addressed promptly.

5. They Don’t Want To Eat

Refusal to eat, or a noticeable decrease in appetite, could be a sign that your dog is feeling unwell. Various health issues, from dental problems to gastrointestinal distress, can make your pet reluctant to eat.

Monitor your dog’s eating habits closely. If they skip meals entirely or show a significant decrease in food intake over a couple of days, it’s advisable to consult your vet. It’s crucial to address this symptom promptly to prevent potential malnutrition or dehydration.

6. They Won’t Drink

Just like humans, dogs need to stay hydrated for their overall health. A decrease in water intake could be a symptom of a potential health issue. If you notice your dog is not drinking as much, or not at all, it’s a cause for concern.

This could lead to dehydration, affecting their kidney function and other critical bodily processes. If your dog continues to refuse water for more than a day, it’s imperative you consult with a vet immediately.

7. They Are Acting More Affectionate

While it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes when dogs are feeling unwell, they may become more affectionate or clingy. This behavior could be their way of seeking comfort during a time of discomfort.

It could also be their way of communicating their unease to you. If your typically independent dog suddenly becomes extra cuddly or constantly seeks your attention, it might be worth paying closer attention to their health.

Keep an eye out for other signs of illness, and if doubt persists, schedule a visit to the vet.

8. They Keep Coughing

Coughing in dogs can be a symptom of various health issues, including respiratory infections, allergies, or more severe conditions like heart disease. The nature of the cough – whether it’s dry, wet, persistent, or sporadic – can provide clues about the underlying cause.

It’s also important to note if the coughing is accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty breathing, lethargy, or loss of appetite. If your dog’s coughing persists for more than a day or seems severe, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

9. Their Eyes Are “Runny”

A dog with runny eyes could be experiencing allergies, eye infections, or other eye-related issues. Be vigilant for any changes in your pet’s eyes, such as redness, squinting, or a noticeable increase in discharge.

It’s particularly important to note if the discharge is clear or colored, as colored discharge could indicate a more serious condition. Consult your vet promptly if your dog’s eyes remain runny for more than a day, or if additional symptoms such as rubbing or scratching at the eyes are present.

Their Eyes Are "Runny"

10. Their Hair Looks Dull

A dog’s coat is often a reflection of their health, with a shiny coat indicating good health, while a dull or dry coat could signal a problem. A lack of essential nutrients in their diet, skin conditions, or underlying health issues might be causing a change in the appearance of your dog’s coat.

It’s crucial to monitor your pet’s coat regularly and note any changes in color, texture, or any presence of dandruff. If your dog’s coat remains dull despite a balanced diet and proper grooming, consider consulting with your vet to rule out any potential health issues.

11. They’re Scratching More Often

Scratching more often than usual can be a sign that your dog might be dealing with a skin condition, allergies, or parasites like fleas and ticks. Keep an eye out for excessive scratching, biting, or licking of a specific area, as these could indicate the presence of an irritant.

Also, look for signs of redness, inflammation, or hair loss. Skin conditions can cause your pet significant discomfort, and if left untreated, may lead to more serious complications.

It’s advisable to seek veterinary advice if your dog’s scratching is persistent or if you notice any additional symptoms.

They're Scratching More Often

12. They’re Lying Around Or Won’t Get Up

Lethargy in dogs, characterized by inactivity or reluctance to move, can be a clear sign of sickness. This symptom could be associated with a variety of health issues, from minor fatigue due to overexertion to more severe conditions such as heart disease or arthritis.

If you notice your typically lively dog is lying around more than usual or seems unwilling to get up and engage in regular activities, it’s essential to monitor them closely.

Continued lethargy warrants a visit to the vet to determine the underlying cause and initiate appropriate treatment.

They're Lying Around Or Won't Get Up

13. They Drink Too Much

Increased water consumption could be a sign that your dog is unwell. Conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, or certain types of liver and adrenal disorders could trigger excessive thirst in dogs.

Observing your pet’s water intake and noting any significant changes can provide crucial information about their health.

If your dog’s drinking habits change drastically or the increased intake is accompanied by other symptoms like frequent urination or changes in appetite, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice promptly.

Remember, early detection can significantly improve the management and treatment of many health conditions.

14. They’re Vomiting

Vomiting can be a sign of many health issues in dogs, from dietary indiscretion to infections and more severe conditions such as liver or kidney disease.

Mild vomiting may be a one-time incident, but if the vomiting persists for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea, it’s time to consult a vet.

Monitor your pet closely and take note of any changes in behavior, eating or drinking habits, color of vomit, etc. Vomiting can lead to dehydration if not addressed immediately – don’t hesitate to seek veterinary help if needed.

They're Vomiting

In conclusion

In conclusion, keeping a keen eye on your dog’s behavior, appearance, and overall demeanor is key in identifying potential health issues.

Familiarize yourself with these common symptoms of sickness in dogs and remain vigilant for any signs indicating your furry friend might be feeling under the weather.

Remember, you’re the best judge of your pet’s normal behavior, and any changes could be your pet’s way of indicating that something isn’t quite right.

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