How can I tell if my dog Is sick

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When you stare deeply into your beloved pet’s eyes and see how hurt or sad they are, it makes you wish they could talk. Of course dogs can’t talk, but their body language can be very eloquent. The better you know your dog—his or her habits, appearance, and behavior—the more apparent these signs will be. Acting promptly at the first signs of illness can help prevent suffering, save money, and even save a life.

The following are common ways in which dogs tell us they’re sick. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Please note that these symptoms are more worrisome in a very young, very old, or otherwise frail dog, since they have fewer defenses when illness strikes. If your dog’s behavior or appearance worries you, always consult your vet. Here are some indications that your dog may be sick:


  • Behavior change

You know your dog best. And if your dog behaves strangely, he is probably telling you something. Behavior changes can be in form of:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawal
  • Needy or clingy behavior


  • Tummy troubles

Every dog vomits and has diarrhea now and then—whether it’s from too many table treats or unmentionables scavenged off the sidewalk. When your dog has these symptoms, especially in combination with lethargy and poor appetite, be sure to contact your veterinarian:

  • Repeated vomiting that lasts over 24 hours.
  • Repeated or profuse diarrhea that lasts over 24 hours
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Repeated dry heaves, restlessness, and distended belly may be a sign of “bloat,” a life threatening condition more typical in large breed dogs. Seek emergency treatment immediately.


  • Breathing Problems

The signs of respiratory illness range from the obvious to the subtle. Call your vet if you notice:

  • Persistent cough that disrupts sleep or lasts more than 24 hours
  • Persistent nasal discharge, especially with mucus or blood
  • A honking cough
  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Persistent gagging
  • Labored breathing

If your dog is struggling to breathe, check the color of the gums and tongue. They should be pink. If you notice a bluish tint, seek emergency care immediately.


  • Elimination problems

Changes in your dog’s bathroom habits can indicate a problem. Consult your veterinarian if you notice:

  • Increased volume or frequency of urine
  • Trouble passing urine
  • Trouble defecating
  • Urinary accidents in a previously housetrained dog
  • Fecal accidents in a previously housetrained dog


  • External appearance

Physical changes are often the most noticeable. You know your dog best. If it’s enough to make you worry, then it makes sense to call your vet:

  • New lumps and bumps
  • Sudden changes in old lumps and bumps
  • Lumps or sores that are bloody or oozing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Rash
  • Hair loss
  • Persistent itch
  • Persistent shaking of head or scratching at ears


  • Fever

Fever often accompanies illness. Controversial wisdom states that a healthy dog should have a cold, wet nose and that a warm, dry nose means trouble. This is a common misconception. The appearance or feel of a dog’s nose is a poor indicator of health or body temperature. Taking your dog’s temperature with a thermometer is the only real way to diagnose a fever. If your dog is acting sick and has a temperature above 103 F, it’s time to call a vet.

Note that body temperature above 104.5 F is consistent with heat stroke and is a life threatening emergency. Institute cooling measures and seek veterinary care immediately.


  • Pain

A dog may yell pain when you go to touch her injured paw or sore back but its even more likely that she will suffer in silence. Most dogs in pain don’t vocalize at all. Never give pain medicine unless it was specifically prescribed for your dog. This includes over the counter human pain killers which may be very toxic to the dogs. Here are some signs that your dog may be hurting:

  • Lameness or stiffness that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Reluctance to move, jump or walk
  • Obvious bone or joint swelling that is warm to the touch
  • Trouble chewing, drooling
  • Agitation
  • Guarding of a body part by growling when you approach

If your dog has been hurt or in a car accident, a fall from a height or attacked by a larger animal, or if there is uncontrolled bleeding, seek veterinary care immediately


  • Neurological signs

Finally the following signs indicate nervous system trouble, all of which warrant a visit to the vet:

  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Heat tilt
  • Seizures
  • Repetitive twitches
  • Repetitive circling
  • Disorientation
  • Stupor

Loss of consciousness, however briefly, is an indication for immediate veterinary care.


In addition, some signs of diseases are not always obvious,  one of the best ways to care for your dogs well being is by including preventive care testing as part of your dog’s annual exam. Preventive care screening not only helps to detect disease in its earlier stages, it also can help you avoid significant medical expense and risk to your dog’s health. However, seeking prompt help whenever you notice any of the symptoms above is the best way to show care to your dog.

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