How to Tell Your Dog is Sick: Most Common Signs


People love dogs because they are reliable companions, protectors, and faithful family members. We get a lot of positive emotions and support from these marvelous creatures. With joy, we acquire a great responsibility: now, the pet’s life and health depend on us.

Each dog owner needs to carefully monitor the pet’s health and condition to notice and prevent diseases in time.


Key Signs that your Dog is sick

Unfortunately, the pet will not tell the owner that he does not feel well, in pain, a fever, or nausea. The owner needs to know what to look for in the first place to understand that the dog is sick.

Digestive tract problems

You can also determine that the dog is sick by refusing to eat. If the animal refuses food for more than a day (if you did not transfer it to some new diet), then pay attention to the dog’s condition. Also, you need to be sure that you feed the right diet. Dr. Joanna De Klerk from ThePets suggest looking only for high-quality food which is fully nutritionally balanced and it would be better co consult veterinarian to help pick up the right food which will work best for your dog and will not cause problems with swelling, infection, gastrointestinal, or oral diseases.

Diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting are dangerous symptoms. They can indicate infection, poisoning. Pay attention to the color of the feces: black feces may indicate the presence of internal bleeding.

Digestive tract problems



A sick animal behaves differently: the dog may become lethargic, lie for a long time, and not get up. The animal may whine or try to hide in a secluded place. The opposite behavior patterns can also happen: the dog becomes overly active, may show aggression.

Also, one of the signs that the dog is sick may be walking in circles. This behavior may indicate a pet’s stress or more serious medical conditions, such as hepatic encephalopathy. As a rule, with such diseases, other symptoms also appear: seizures of epilepsy, vomiting, diarrhea with blood.

Some owners may observe the situation when the pet is sitting, staring at the wall. This behavior can also indicate poor health; for example, the dog may be tormented by dizziness, which is a symptom of injury or illness.

It is worth worrying if the animal sleeps too much. In dogs, sleeping too long can indicate thyroid problems, diabetes, infections, stress. If the dog is shaking or trembling, it could manifest hypothyroidism (a lack of thyroid hormones) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, which may indicate diabetes).

Genitourinary system

Frequent urge to urinate, discoloration of urine, and incontinence may indicate kidney disease.


This may indicate allergies, skin diseases, vitamin deficiencies, or poor nutrition if the animal sheds. It should also be alerted if the coat becomes too dull.

Respiratory system

Coughs, sneezing, wheezing, and excessive drooling can be signs of a cold in dogs or more severe health problems. Also, look for a dry or cracked nose. You can also tell that a dog is sick by bad breath.

Musculoskeletal system

Any changes in the dog’s movements can indicate the disease: altered gait, stiffness of movements, refusal to run, and jump. Please note that a stiff gait can be a symptom of not only diseases of the musculoskeletal system, but also indicate the development of colitis, renal colic, poisoning, or injury.

There can be many signs that an animal is unwell. Pay attention to any changes in your pet’s behavior and take timely action.

Musculoskeletal system


What to do if your Dog gets sick?

So, you have found one or more of the signs that your pet is unwell. First of all, be sure to contact your veterinarian, because only a qualified specialist can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the right decision.

Dog’s poisoning with rat poison is a common problem, especially in some countries. There are frequent cases when intruders deliberately scatter treats that are attractive to dogs soaked in rat poison in places where dogs are walking. This is a widespread and dangerous type of poisoning. The effect of rat poison is harmful because the body’s blood coagulation function is disrupted, multiple internal bleeding occurs, and the animal dies. In such cases, quick help is needed.

If your dog has been poisoned with rat poison, you may be suspicious of shortness of breath, pale mucous membranes, bloody vomiting, bloody diarrhea, nosebleeds, and bleeding gums. With such symptoms, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. He will rule out other possible diagnoses for these symptoms and help determine the dosage of the antidote.

The antidote is vitamin K1. When the salvation of an animal depends on the speed of giving the necessary drug, it is better to take care of this on your own in advance. Veterinarians recommend that dog owners have such a drug in their veterinary medicine cabinet.

How do I examine my Dog?

The symptoms of most diseases are so apparent that you do not have to be a veterinarian to know that your pet is sick. For example, when the dog vomits, and it refuses to eat. Or scratches his ear, which is red, painful, and has an unpleasant odor. Everything is clear and distinct here: the next step is to see a veterinarian.

However, diseases do not always manifest themselves so noticeably, sometimes changes occur gradually and therefore are not so striking. Dog owners should regularly conduct a systematic examination, which will help identify abnormalities in the pet’s illness’s early stages and consult a doctor in time.

The principle of such an examination is straightforward: you must carefully examine the dog from the tip of the nose to the tail’s tip. So, the nose – without violations of the color and structure of the skin, without discharge; eyes – bright and clean, ears – clean, without combustion and unpleasant odor; gently palpate the base of the ear and the entire head of the dog, determine if there are soreness and change in shape. Then open our mouth and examine the teeth, gums, and tongue (usually the gums are pale pink, teeth without calculus and plaque).

How do I examine my Dog


Then move along the dog’s body, touch the back and sides, evaluate the fatness, note the soreness, and the appearance of swelling or neoplasms. In females, carefully examine each mammary gland. Evaluate the condition of the genitals, the presence of secretions, changes in size. Raise the tail and examine everything under it.

Raise each paw in turn, estimate the condition of the pads, interdigital spaces, and claws. We pay attention to the coat and state of the skin, note the coat’s uniformity, and pay attention to pimples, scratching, and skin pigmentation changes.

Examine the dog for external parasites: fleas are often found on the back, at the base of the tail, and in the armpits. Ixodid ticks like to attach at the bottom of the ears, on the lower part of the neck, under the collar, and in the axillary and groin areas.

In addition to this physical examination, evaluate the dog’s general mood, food, and water intake, the nature of urination and defecation, activity during a walk, observe how the dog runs and jumps, pay attention to any change in gait.

If you saw your dog’s signs being sick, visit a professional veterinarian to help you establish a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Keep emergency medications nearby, and do not ignore any signs of discomfort in dogs. Remember, we are responsible for those we have tamed!

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