There are a variety of signs and symptoms your dog may exhibit that indicate that he or she is not well. Because your dog cannot verbally tell you when she is not feeling well, she will communicate, either intentionally or unintentionally through some of the following signs and symptoms that she is sick.
Signs your dog may be sick: Behavioral Changes
If you notice behavioral changes in your dog watch your dog to see how pronounced behavioral changes become. If your dog is more lethargic than usual, laying around less playful than usual or unwilling to participate in regular games or play time this may be a sign that your dog is not feeling well. Your dog may even want to lie beside you for comfort or left alone altogether.
At the other extreme, if your dog exhibits unexplained aggressive behavior, have the veterinarian examine him immediately. He may have come into contact with rabies or have developed canine dementia. There are other diseases that can cause aggressive behavior, so do not hesitate to consult your vet if you see this symptom of illness in your dog.
Signs your dog may be sick: Blood in Stool or Urine
It almost seems too obvious to state, but if your dog has blood in her urine or stool it is important to have her checked by a vet. Blood in the urine may indicate a kidney infection, urinary tract infection, or even kidney stones.
Blood in the stool is a sign of bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract. If the blood is dark, the bleeding may be as high as the stomach. Bright red blood usually comes from the colon. In either case, the veterinarian needs to examine your dog. Expect them to take a fecal sample when you visit the vet.
Blood can be an alarming symptom, but don’t become overly alarmed, most issues that cause bleeding in urine or stool can be treated easily. Sometimes blood in the stool is a sign of constipation.
Signs your dog may be sick: Diarrhea
Diarrhea can be a result of a change in food or your dog getting into something that he isn’t supposed to eat. Diarrhea is difficult to deal with, but it becomes a concern when it persists for more than a couple of hours. A dog subject to constant diarrhea may easily become dehydrated setting off a plethora of health problems.
Signs your dog may be sick: Vomiting
Vomiting is generally a definite sign that your dog is sick. Like diarrhea, you may have to see if there is a reason before assuming your dog is sick. Did the dog get into human food they shouldn’t have eaten? Did someone feed the dog a food not approved for her normal diet?
If you can find no reason for your dog to be vomiting see a vet immediately. It is possible for pieces of toys or small chunks of food to lodge in a dog’s intestines effectively blocking them. In this case, the dog’s food has nowhere to go but up.
If a dog has already become dehydrated you may notice she lurches forward as if she would vomit, but nothing comes out. This is just like having the “dry heaves.” See a vet to find out what is wrong with your pet and help get your dog hydrated.
Signs your dog may be sick: Difficulty Breathing
Some breeds and individual dogs are more prone to breathing problems than others. The shape of the snout and nasal passage will affect how the dog sounds when she breathes. If you notice a sudden change in breathing, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, extremely shallow breathes, or breathing that seems too rapid even for a winded dog it is time to notify your veterinarian.
Coughing and hacking noises are often associated with inflammation of the bronchial tubes or lungs and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Sometimes your dog’s breathing is affected by allergies. Never assume this is your dog’s problem until your dog has been diagnosed with allergies. Sneezing may be a sign of allergies or a cold. Wheezing may or may not be a sign of allergies. Wheezing can indicate more serious respiratory conditions.
Signs your dog may be sick: Changes in Diet
When you have not changed dog food brands or your dog’s feeding schedule but you notice a sudden decrease in appetite or aversion for food it may be a sign that your dog is sick.
The same is true for a decrease in water consumption.
Food and drink are your dog’s energy sources, when he is not interested in eating or drinking fresh water it is generally a sign that the dog is not feeling well. You can watch this symptom for a day or so, but if your dog refuses to eat for two or more days or stops drinking water take him to the veterinarian.
Signs your dog may be sick: Swelling
Swelling of the stomach or abdomen, which seems to be more common in smaller breeds, may be an indication that there is a bowel obstruction or some other difficulty with an internal organ.
Often, if your dog is not acting well, and you suspect their abdomen or stomach is swollen you can simple apply light pressure to the stomach to find out if the dog experiences pain to the touch.
In either case, it is important that a vet be able to examine and possibly x-ray your dog when swelling is present.
Signs your dog may be sick: Excessive Itching
Constant scratching can be as irritating for a dog owner as the itch must be for the dog. A dog’s itch may be caused by something as simple as a bug bite, allergic reaction, or nerves. On the other hand, excessive scratching may also indicate a more serious problem.
Excessive scratching can be a sign of fleas, mange, ticks, tapeworm, or ear mites. If a good bath and attention to hot spots or flea treatment does not stop your dog’s scratching you should have the condition diagnosed by a vet.
Signs your dog may be sick: Twitching or Seizures
Twitching or seizures are a serious symptom of illness that should prompt you to take your dog to the vet immediately. Twitching or seizures can be a symptom of any number of illnesses or diseases. Rabies, distemper, hepatitis, and kidney disease can all cause seizures in a sick dog.
Signs your dog may be sick: Fever
Just as a fever indicates when you are sick, it is also an indicator that something is wrong with your dog. Detecting a fever in your dog is not as difficult as you may think. Generally a dog with a fever is lethargic and not as playful or responsive as usual. The dog’s nose and behind their ears may feel warmer than usual.
Often, fevers are accompanied by other symptoms that make it apparent that your dog isn’t feeling well. You can take your dog’s fever using a rectal thermometer, but if you believe your dog has a fever it may be best to go ahead and seek the advice of your veterinarian.
Additional signs your dog may be sick
These are only a few of the indicators that your dog may be sick. If your dog exhibits behavior that is out of the ordinary, and there have been no changes in the home environment, it is best to have your dog checked by a veterinarian.
The illness may be something as simple as a cold or a more complex disease. In either case, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose your dog’s sickness and help you, help nurse the dog back to health again.
Dog Medical Library; petplace.com
Dog Symptom Sorter; dog-names.org
Guide to Dog Symptoms; petplace.com
Top 20 Dog Diseases, petplace.com