8 Signs Your Dog is Sick

Noticing when your dog is sick is very important – the sooner you know there is a problem, the sooner you can seek help. The problem is, the signs of illness in dogs can often be subtle. It is its instinct to put on a brave face and mask its symptoms for as long as possible. Observing the following clues can help you notice a serious health problem in the early stages.

Behavior Changes

Nobody knows your dog’s personality better than you. Watch for changes such as withdrawing from family contact to sleep or being overly clingy. Dogs who are not feeling well can also cut short walks or playtimes, and even become irritable or aggressive with family members and pets.


Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and loss of appetite are clear signs that your dog is not feeling well, but other digestive problems can be even more subtle. Look for blood in the stool, which can be fresh and red, or old and black. A painful, swollen, or tight stomach is also a sign of problems. Life-threatening “bloating” can manifest as dry heaving, agitation, drooling, and distended abdomen. Always take these symptoms very seriously and seek veterinary care immediately.

Respiratory Diseases

Does your dog snore more than usual? Cough, nasal discharge from phlegm or blood? All of these respiratory diseases can indicate an infection or something serious. Wheezing, rapid breathing, and collapsing should be taken very seriously, especially in overweight dogs, as well as those with short snouts such as Pugs, Pekingese, and bulldogs.

Fears of Loss

Trained dogs who suddenly urinate or defend themselves indoors may do so because of an underlying illness. Older dogs should be monitored especially while walking as it is difficult to see urine or stool and look for any changes in the stool. Excessive urination could indicate a kidney problem. The color and consistency of the stool can also be an indicator of health. For example, loose stools or dark, bloodred urine could be signs of a problem.


Certain skin problems can indicate a deeper problem in your dog’s body, such as a thyroid problem, diabetes, or cancer. Dull, flaky fur, hair loss, persistent itching, rashes, and new bumps should always be checked by a veterinarian and monitored for changes.

Neurological Signs

These symptoms are some of the most terrifying and should be taken very seriously. Seizures, loss of consciousness, disorientation, limb weakness, stumbling, walking in circles, and twitching can all indicate a serious neurological problem. A side-tilt of the head could be a simple ear infection or something more serious.


Every dog experiences pain from time to time, but persistent pain can indicate a serious problem. Look for stiffness and lameness in the joints, reluctance to run or jump, swelling around bones or joints, difficulty chewing, guarding a part of the body, and even excitement and aggression to touch.


Dogs get much warmer than humans, so they are often mistaken for feverish. The well-known “warm nose belongs to a sick dog” wisdom is just a myth. The only way to really know if your dog has a fever is to take his or her temperature. A normal temperature is 37.5 degrees – 39 degrees, but it can vary slightly. A temperature of 40 or more accompanied by any other sign of the disease means it’s time to see the vet!

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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