7 Dog Symptoms to Watch Out for When They are Sick

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These common dog symptoms should be taken seriously.

When a loved one in your family is feeling sick, it can be taxing on everyone, and when it’s your dog it can be more so because they can’t verbally tell you they’re sick. Since you’re the most important person in your pet’s life, it’s up to you to pick up on the clues that they aren’t feeling well.

Some of the most common dog symptoms can be obvious displays that they’re ill, and some can be quite difficult to detect. Because it’s up to you to know how to tell if your dog is sick and when it’s time to take them to the vet, you need to know which warning signs to be on the lookout for and when it’s time to seek medical help.

Changes in routine

If the pooch in question is normally full of energy, then a change in their routine may be the first clue in the puzzle of how to tell if a dog is sick. The ailment can range from injury to disease, but a change in routine may be the initial clue that there is something that needs to be addressed. Your dog may be sleeping more frequently and for longer periods of time. This is because sleeping is a natural response to escape the pain.

If your normally friendly and quiet dog suddenly becomes snappy or anxious, you might need to see if there are other symptoms manifesting. Just like humans, a dog’s behavior can change when they’re not feeling up to par 1

Unexplained Weight Loss

It may not be surprising that many of our modern-day pets are obese, with the number in America reaching 55.8%.2 The treatment for this is the same for humans, a better diet and more exercise. With a change in lifestyle, you should notice your dog shedding pounds. However, if the weight loss isn’t planned, then you should start looking for other dog symptoms that could indicate that they’re feeling sick.

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If your furry friend has a normal appetite but has suddenly and unexpectedly lost weight, then this can be a major indicator that your dog is suffering from a disease. This is especially serious if your dog has lost more than 10% of its body weight. If this is the case, then you need to visit the vet immediately or contact a 24 hour vet hotline because you have a sick dog.3

Stomach Issues / Bathroom Issues

Stomach issues and loose stool may afflict your dog if they’re suffering from an infection. It is one of the first signs to make a note of if you’re in the process of using a dog symptom checker. These symptoms can be caused by numerous sources, ranging from a virus, bacteria, or a parasite. These dog symptoms are usually expressed as diarrhea or vomiting, a clear warning sign that your dog needs to be checked out by a vet.

If your dog displays gagging, dry heaving, or yellow foamy vomit, then they may be suffering from gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, making it difficult to keep food down. A trip to the vet is in order if your dog displays any of these warning signs.1

Issues Breathing

A symptom that accompanies a variety of dog illnesses is difficulty breathing. Dogs with an underlying illness can have either labored breathing (dyspnea) or rapid breathing (tachypnea). By being observed by a veterinarian, they can use this symptom in diagnosing a sick dog.

If your dog is suffering from dyspnea, they may show this through flared nostrils, open mouth breathing, and noisy breathing.

If your dog is suffering from tachypnea, then they will have shallow breaths, closed mouth breathing, and a faster breathing rate.4

Trouble Moving

Trouble moving is another indicator that can have you wondering “what’s wrong with my dog.” It’s one that can have multiple causes. If they’re moving slowly and have a limp, then they may be suffering from an injury or arthritis. If they’re lethargic it could be from an infection. If they’ve collapsed then you need to seek immediate medical treatment. 

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The common causes of lethargy due to infection include heartworm disease, leptospirosis, and kennel cough, all serious conditions that should be treated as soon as possible.

However, lethargy isn’t limited to infection. If your dog has trouble moving, then this could be a sign of organ disease or hormone regulation. 5

Change in Appetite

Changes in appetite can be difficult to understand when it comes to determining if there is a serious problem with your pet that needs to be addressed. Sometimes your pet just doesn’t feel like eating, or there may be an environmental change that causes them to dismiss food. This can leave you wondering “is my dog sick”. However, if this symptom persists then it can be a strong indicator that something is amiss. A lengthy loss of appetite or even an increase in appetite can be an indicator that your dog is suffering from either a mental or physical disease.

If the cause is due to a change in the environment, then it should generally resolve itself within a few days. If the loss of appetite continues for more than two days, then you should contact your veterinarian.6

Change in Sleep Pattern

Most dogs are creatures of habit and understanding your dog’s normal routine can help you figure out if there is an issue that needs to be looked into.  A change in their sleep cycle can help to determine and answer your questions around their sickness. If your dog is suffering from an injury, they may not be able to get comfortable enough to sleep deeply, resulting in pacing or frequently getting up and down. If your dog is suffering from an infection or disease, you may notice them sleeping more often as they try to mitigate the pain.

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You are the first line of defense for your dog’s health. By knowing their habits, you can make sure that they lead a happy healthy life.7

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Dog insurance from Pets Best can help you rest easy knowing that your dog is in good hands no matter what symptoms they may develop. Contact our team to get a quote today!


1 7 Warning Signs Your Dog Might Be Sick [blog post], Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from http://www.vetstreet.com/

2 U.S. Pet Obesity Rates Plateau and Nutritional Confusion Grows, Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from https://petobesityprevention.org/2018

3 Abnormal Weight Loss in Dogs [blog post], Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from https://vcahospitals.com/

4 Laboured breathing problems in dogs and puppies [blog post], Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from https://www.vets-now.com/

5 The Top 10 Signs Your Dog May Be Sick [blog post], Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/

6 Loss of Appetite in Dogs – A Reason for Concern? [blog post], Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from https://www.fitbark.com/

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Sleep At Night [blog post], Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from https://www.silverliningherbs.com/

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