It’s a real fact of life that, just like humans, dogs can also get ill. Seeing a sick dog can be heartbreaking for dog lovers.
The biggest problem with dogs is that they cannot say in words what they are going through. But they do show signs of illness or disease that you should take note of. They can show both physical as well as behavioral changes.
Being aware of the signs of the most common diseases that your four-legged friend can suffer from can make all the difference. By acting promptly at the first signs of illness, you can help prevent your pet from suffering, save money and even save the precious life of your beloved friend.
Here are the top 10 signs and symptoms that your dog is sick.
Every dog vomits now and then, which can be due to too many table treats or anything that they pick up during a walk. Occasional vomiting is fine as it helps the system get rid of unwanted things. However, if your pet is vomiting a few times in a day, take it as a warning sign.
Some of the serious causes of vomiting episodes include poisoning, foreign bodies in the intestines, gastric ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, viral infections, parasite infections, pancreatitis, liver failure, kidney failure.
Vomiting several times a day, especially when accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy and lack of appetite, means that your dog needs medical attention. Blood in the vomit is another cause for concern.
No matter what, when your pet starts vomiting, make him drink as much water as possible to prevent dehydration, which can make the condition even worse.
Just like vomiting, it is fine if your dog suffers from diarrhea once in a while. Occasional diarrhea indicates that your pet has been munching on things that he shouldn’t eat, and it usually gets better quickly.
But if you are cleaning up your pet’s watery stool more often in a day, it’s a clear sign that your pet is not well.
If the watery stool contains blood, or the diarrhea is accompanied by fever or vomiting, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Such symptoms can indicate food poisoning, ingestion of a foreign body, gastrointestinal illnesses, parasite infections, inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial or viral infections, kidney or liver disease, cancer, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, colitis and parvovirus.
When going to see a vet, it is recommended to take a fresh stool sample with you.
3. Coughing or Honking
Just like humans, dogs also suffer from coughs. You may have noticed your dog coughing when he has got something stuck in his throat. With some coughing and honking, the foreign body usually works its way out.
While this type of coughing is good, persistent coughing is not a good sign, especially if it causes poor sleep and lasts more than 24 hours.
Persistent coughing can indicate kennel cough, minor bronchitis, heart disease, heartworms, lung disease, tracheal collapse, tumors or congestive heart failure.
Similarly, if your furry friend is showing signs of labored breathing without any vigorous activity, it is not a good sign. Under normal circumstances, dogs should breathe 15 to 20 times per minute at rest.
Labored breathing can indicate a number of health conditions, ranging from a chest infection or cold to allergies or other respiratory problems.
Get any severe coughing in your dog checked out by your veterinarian.
If your dog is struggling to breathe, check the color of the gums and tongue. If you notice a bluish tint rather than pink, consult your vet immediately.
4. Change in Appetite
Being a pet owner, it’s important to pay attention to changes in your dog’s appetite. Just like humans, dogs may show a change in appetite when they don’t feel well.
They may experience an increase or decrease in appetite, which may indicate a common cold, fever, stress or many other possible issues.
However, a change in appetite, especially when it leads to weight loss or gain, can also indicate a serious illness, such as liver problems, kidney failure, cancer, infection, dental disease and pain.
Do not delay and your veterinarian if your dog no longer comes running at feeding time or seems to be eating a lot less than usual for more than 24 hours.
Just like food, you must keep an eye on your pet’s water intake. Drinking too much or too little can indicate a problem that requires veterinary attention.
5. High Body Temperature
Canines can run fevers just like humans. In fact, a fever is a clear sign of illness in both animals and people.
Feel your dog’s nose and behind its ears to see whether they feel hotter than normal. If you suspect a fever, get a more accurate temperature by using a digital rectal thermometer designed specifically for dogs.
Your dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your his temperature is 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, it means he has a fever. Always bear in mind that a body temperature above 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit is consistent with heat stroke and is a life-threatening emergency.
Along with high body temperature, your four-legged friend may show other signs of illness like lethargy, shivering, depression, vomiting, coughing and a runny nose. Your pet may even refuse to eat food and show signs of increased thirst.
Seek advice from a vet when your pet has a fever. Antibiotics or other treatments may be needed to clear up the source of the infection that’s causing it.
6. Excessive Scratching
Dogs have the habit of scratching their body, but if they suddenly start scratching their body more frequently, it can be a sign of a health problem.
Excessive scratching is a typical sign of fleas, ticks or mange mites. It can also be due to an allergic reaction to something in the environment that is creating an itchy sensation. Even when dogs suffer from stress and anxiety, they may scratch a lot.
Scratching can also indicate endocrine or hormonal problems as well as fungal, yeast or staph infections, which often cause itchy skin and hair loss.
Regardless of the cause of the scratching, it should be addressed timely or else it can lead to further infection. A visit to the vet can help in getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, give your pet a nice bath, maintain proper hygiene and try giving your pet a supplement to ensure optimum nutrition.
7. Prolonged Lethargy
Showing signs of low energy and tiredness after a busy day or a long run at the park is nothing to worry about. Proper rest and sleep will help your pet recover.
But a consistent drop in your dog’s energy level is not a good sign. Prolonged lethargy combined with reduced exercise tolerance or general weakness is a strong sign that your pet isn’t feeling well.
Prolonged lethargy can indicate several serious medical conditions, including heart disease, parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, heartworm disease, liver disease, diabetes and hypoglycemia.
Unusually low energy levels, over two or three days, should be checked with a vet.
Just like low energy levels, extremely high levels of energy can also be a problem that needs medical attention.
8. Excessive Drooling or Bad Breath
Excessive drooling or bad breath is another sign that your furry friend is not well. In fact, it may indicate some kind of oral problem.
Bad breath is caused by the bacteria that form plaque on your pet’s teeth. Your dog may even have trouble chewing.
It’s important to find out the exact cause of bad breath immediately and resolve it. If not treated timely, the harmful bacteria can travel into the nasal passages and sinuses, leading to respiratory problems.
If the bacteria make their way into the bloodstream, they can cause liver, kidney or heart problems.
Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth daily and give him treats or toys made especially for dental hygiene. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth for any reason, get them cleaned regularly by a professional.
9. Dry, Red, or Cloudy Eyes
Do not ignore symptoms like dry eyes, discharge and crusty gunk, red or white eyelid linings, cloudiness or change in eye color, tearing, tear-stained fur, unequal pupil sizes in your dog as they could indicate an eye infection or disorder.
Dry eye, conjunctivitis, cherry eye and glaucoma are some of the common causes of eye-related problems in dogs.
If you notice any eye-related symptoms in your dog, consult your veterinarian for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Long-haired breeds are usually more prone to eye problems as the hair may get in the eyes and cause irritation.
Make sure to trim the hair around your dog’s eyes from time to time. Also, keep your furry companion’s eyes free from gunk by gently wiping with a damp cotton ball. Be careful not to touch his eyeball.
10. Urinary Changes
A change in your dog’s urination pattern is something you should take seriously. Urinating more or less frequently for a day or two may simply be related to your dog’s water intake.
However, urinary changes that continue for a few days can indicate many health problems. Changes in either the frequency or the color of the urine can be an indication of an illness.
If your dog is urinating inside the house, drinking excessive water or needs to go out more often than usual, it may be a sign of many health problems, such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, adrenal gland disease or a urinary tract infection.
If your dog is trying to urinate but is unable to do so, take him to the veterinarian quickly as it can indicate some form of blockage and can be quite serious.
Blood in the urine is another telltale sign that your dog may be suffering from a bladder infection and needs immediate medical attention.
- A dog’s ears may droop if he feels sad or has an ear infection.
- If your pet’s normally pink gums have black patches, it indicates serious dental problems.
- If your dog’s eyes are cloudy, it could be a strong indicator of cataracts.
- If your dog keeps chasing her tail, it can indicate an inner ear infection called labyrinthitis.
- Runny eyes or nose may be signs of respiratory problems, as are gasping or shortness of breath.
- Progressive changes in weight over two to four weeks can also indicate a problem.
- Swelling in a dog’s stomach area can mean constipation or gas and bloating.
- Excessive aggression can indicate a rabies infection.
- If your dog is exhibiting stiffness or lameness, it may indicate hip dysplasia, arthritis, disc disease or ruptured ligaments.
- Nosebleeds can indicate trauma or parasites within the mucous membranes in the nose.
- Keep your vet’s phone number handy so it will be easy to find if you have an emergency.
- If you’re not sure whether or not your dog is sick, seek your vet’ advice.