How To Tell If Your Dog Is Sick: 7 Warning Signs

Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by Becky Roberts

Dogs getting sick is pretty common. As a pet owner, you have to take frequent trips to the vet. It can be to get your dog’s vaccination done or to get a minor problem checked out. At times, a seemingly minor issue may be a sign of something more serious. In any case, being vigilant and attentive is essential. 

sick dog

7 Warning Signs That May Indicate Your Dog Is Sick

Early detection of disease can significantly help in treatment later on. It can help prevent your dog’s condition from deteriorating as they get timely treatment. 

Here are seven major signs to look out for that may tell you that your dog is sick:

1. Decrease In Activity

Naturally, the level of energy for dogs goes down as they age. Over time, your dog becomes less and less active. This is common and nothing to worry about. What is worrying and must be taken note of is when your dog becomes less active all of a sudden. The change in energy levels that are drastic and noticeable is a major red flag. 

Dogs require daily exercise ranging from 1 to 2 hours usually. This varies slightly depending on the breed, age, and other health factors. If your dog is not even interested in less strenuous activity for more than 30 minutes, it is time to consult the vet.

2. Bad Breath

It is common for dogs to have bad breath in the mornings or after a long nap. This is normal, even in humans. It is also why you must brush your dog’s teeth daily to maintain dental hygiene. Lousy breath, however, is a problem if it continues throughout the day. If your dog’s breath is unbearably stinky and they are constantly drooling, it may indicate something is wrong. 

Your dog’s bad breath may indicate that they are suffering from kidney failure. Kidneys clean the blood and remove waste products. If these remain in the bloodstream because the kidneys are not functioning correctly, it can result in bad breath, among other signs.

3. Frequently Drinking Water 

This is related to kidney failure. When there is a problem with the normal functioning of the kidneys, your dog will drink more water. 

Drinking water keeps your dog hydrated. However, with kidney issues, this becomes excessive drinking is a sign that there are toxins in the body. Drinking water is how the body copes with these toxins, as the kidneys are underperforming.

Related to this is frequent urination. As your dog drinks more water, it will need to relieve itself more frequently. If your dog, which usually does not have accidents or urinates so often, starts to do so, it should tell you something is wrong.

4. An Upset Stomach

It is not rated that dogs experience an upset stomach. They can catch something from outside or their general surroundings. An upset stomach that lasts for a long time is a concern. If the stomach issues do not show signs of improvement and prevent your dog from eating correctly, then it is not normal. 

If your dog starts vomiting and diarrhea, you know it is time to go to the vet. Even if it is just a simple stomach issue, vomiting and diarrhea can leave your dog dehydrated.

5. Change In Weight

A sudden weight change, especially when it is not due to any change in diet or activity. An increase or decrease in weight that is unexplained may be caused by an underlying condition. Diabetes, for instance, can lead to rapid weight loss. On the other hand, thyroid issues may cause weight gain.

It is normal to expect rescue dogs, like rescue Goldendoodles, to gain weight quickly. It is because they are in a loving home with a stable environment. Nevertheless, be on the lookout for weight gain or loss that is sudden and without cause.

In each case, weight should be monitored closely. If you suspect an unusual weight change, have your dog checked with the vet.

6. Increased Shedding

Shedding is normal. Some dogs shed more than others do. However, you can always tell when the shedding is getting out of control. Aside from shedding excessively, a dull and dry coat is also a bad sign. Thick and smooth fur is a sign of good health. 

7. Behavioral Changes

As a dog parent, you know what your dog’s personality is like. Some dogs are lovable and full of energy, while others are more reserved.

The bottom line is that usually, their personality remains relatively constant. Being ill can change that. The physical distress and pain that comes with sickness can make your dog more severe and prone to anxiety. They may lose their happy-go-lucky attitude or their will to be social.

Being Aware Of Your Dog’s Health

Any physical or behavioral change in your dog must be viewed with caution. Some severe conditions like heart disease and cancer have very minor symptoms initially. You must monitor your dog closely. Your dog cannot verbalize the pain and discomfort they feel. However, they can communicate in other ways.

It is your job as the caretaker to keep a watch. Early detection of a sickness dramatically helps with the treatment. It can even prevent the condition of your dog from worsening further. It reduces the pain they have to bear. Even mental health problems like anxiety and depression have physical and behavioral indications in dogs. So sickness does not just have to be physiological.

The idea is to improve your dog’s well-being. Good health is more than just the absence of illness. To give your dog a good environment, additional factors must be considered. These include a balanced diet, hygienic living conditions, regular grooming, and frequent activity.

Dogs are social animals. They value connections and are hungry for affection. Monitoring their health for signs of sickness is part of the care. Showing your concern allows them to understand that you value them and care for them. This is why signs and symptoms must never be ignored.

Becky Roberts

Becky Roberts

One of Becky's favourite things to do every morning is to browse the top pet-related forums, looking for issues and questions that people have. She then shortlists the most common ones, and turns them into blog posts for Fuzzy Rescue. She's had over 4 cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, so she does know a thing or 2 about raising/training, and more importantly, loving them. She's the only one on our team that doesn't like coffee, but it seems to us she really doesn't need more energy :). We're very fortunate to have her on board as she does most of the heavy listing for the site, outputting an insane amount of content each month. Read More

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