Home Dogs How To Tell If A Dog Is Sick: 15 Warning Signs

How To Tell If A Dog Is Sick: 15 Warning Signs

by Pawsome Tips
how to tell if a dog is sick

Do you ever get the feeling something isn’t quite right with your four-legged best friend and worry that he or she may be sick?

With all the potential ailments a pup could come down with, it can be daunting to try and tell if your dog is ill. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide on how to tell if a dog is sick. We’ll go into detail about the common warning signs of sickness in dogs and suggest proactive steps owners can take to keep their furry friends healthy.

Don’t let illness catch you by surprise – start reading now so you know exactly what sick dog symptoms to look out for!

How to tell if your Dog is Sick: Signs and Symptoms

As a pet owner, your dog’s well-being is of utmost importance. That’s why it’s important to stay aware of the signs and symptoms of illness in your pup.

“You know your dog better than anyone, and if something makes you wonder if there is something wrong with them or that they are sick, trust your gut and enlist the help of your veterinarian.”

– Dr. Sarah Wooten, Hills Pet

Here are 15 signs that your pup may not be feeling its best:

1. Loss of Appetite

If your pup is suddenly uninterested in their food or not as enthusiastic about treats, it may be a sign that something is wrong.

Such signs should never be taken lightly, as they could indicate an underlying health condition. This is why it’s important to take your pup to the vet for an examination if you notice any changes in appetite.

Failing to act at these initial warning signs could lead to bigger problems down the line, so don’t hesitate and make sure your pup stays happy and healthy!

2. Excessive Thirst

Increased thirst can be cause for concern in our beloved dogs, so it’s important to take note if they seem to suddenly become particularly parched.

While there are normal explanations for unusual thirstiness; such as a hot day or an extra-active session of play – excessive thirst may also indicate an underlying medical issue, such as diabetes or kidney disease. If your pup is displaying increased thirstiness along with other abnormal behavior, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian for further examination and diagnosis.

Highly trained professionals can provide the best care for your canine companion, so don’t hesitate to seek help should any health concerns arise.

3. Vomiting or Diarrhea

Vomiting and/or diarrhea are often your pet’s body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Although they may be mild symptoms, they can indicate a more serious underlying problem and should not be taken lightly.

If the symptoms persist after basic treatments, such as fasting or altering their diet, a trip to the vet is necessary in order to accurately diagnose and treat whatever is causing the distress. Don’t ignore the signs since digestive problems in dogs can stem from anything from food intolerances to pancreatitis, so it’s better to act quickly given how quickly these conditions can progress.

Keeping up with regular checkups and dietary changes can help protect your furry friend’s health over the long term.

4. Lethargy and Weakness

It can be hard to notice small changes in energy levels from day to day, but if your usually active pup seems sluggish and more withdrawn than usual, it could be a sign that something is up.

Lethargy and Weakness in dogs
Image credit: freestocks.org / Pexels

Lethargy or weakness can indicate an underlying medical issue, and shouldn’t be ignored; taking your pup to the vet is highly recommended so they can assess the situation and provide treatment as needed.

Keeping an eye out for any changes in energy levels is particularly important for the preventative care of our four-legged friends.

5. Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Keeping an eye on your dog’s weight should be a priority for all pet owners. Changes in a dog’s weight can easily occur and can sometimes spell out health issues that may require medical attention.

Sudden weight gain or weight loss could indicate the presence of diseases such as thyroid disease or diabetes, and being aware of these warning signs is critical to maintaining your dog’s overall well-being.

If you see any changes in your pup’s weight, make sure to talk to your veterinarian right away so they can determine if further testing is needed. With regular monitoring, you can be prepared to address any potential health problems quickly – giving your pup the care they need.

6. Coughing or Sneezing

Coughing and sneezing are telltale signs of respiratory infections in pets, as well as other mammals. Respiratory infections can be uncomfortable at the least and life-threatening at worst if left unchecked or untreated; this is why veterinary intervention is highly recommended if either symptom appears in your pet.

If coughing or sneezing persists, do not hesitate to see a vet in order to properly evaluate the situation and create a course of treatment that will keep your pet safe and healthy.

7. Excessive Licking

Dogs are more prone to stress and anxiety, much like humans, which can lead to excessive licking as an outlet for this tension. However, habitual licking can also be indicative of skin irritation or other underlying issues such as allergies, parasites, fleas, mites, bacterial infections, and even fungal infections or yeast overgrowth.

Dog with runny nose licking
Image credit: Alina Skazka / Pexels

If you notice that your four-legged friend is licking themselves too often or too much for your own comfort, it is recommended that you seek professional medical attention from a veterinarian.

8. Changes in Urination or Bowel Movements

When it comes to changes in urination and bowel movements, the key is monitoring any changes closely. These may be subtle at first, such as an increased frequency (especially at night) or straining while defecating.

In more extreme cases, you may notice excessive amounts of urine/stool (in quantity). Depending on the other symptoms present, these changes could point towards a variety of underlying medical conditions such as urinary tract infections or stones, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s Disease, diabetes, and more.

It is important not to ignore them and seek professional advice if there is any cause for concern.

9. Bad Breath or Discolored Gums

Bad breath, officially known as halitosis, can occur for several reasons. One cause to be aware of is periodontal disease, which can lead to more severe medical issues if left untreated. This oral health issue has become one of the most pervasive chronic diseases seen in dogs.

Bad breath in dogs
Image credit: Blue Bird / Pexels

An easy way to diagnose a possible case in your canine companion is by checking the gums. If instead of its healthy pre-defined rosy pink hue, you see a pale pinkish coloration; this might signal an infection requiring immediate attention from a veterinarian before it gets any worse and progresses into organ damage due to bacteria entering into circulation through infected dental roots and gums.

A timely evaluation could potentially save your pup from unnecessary discomfort or complications.

10. Rashes or Skin Irritations

A skin rash combined with itching or scratching can be a sign of several different ailments in pets. Everything from food allergies to contact dermatitis caused by touching plants outdoors, flea and tick infestations, and even mange can cause these symptoms.

In order to ensure your pet gets the proper diagnosis and treatment plan, it is very important to consult with a veterinarian if your pet is exhibiting signs of a rash combined with itching or scratching.

Not all causes will require the same course of action, so diagnosis is key! Act promptly for the best outcome for your furry friend!

11. Shedding or Poor Coat Quality

If a pet’s coat is shedding excessively and/or not of ideal quality, this could be a sign that the animal may be suffering from malnutrition or a hormonal imbalance.

It is important for pet owners to note any abnormal hair shedding in their animals and have them examined immediately by their veterinarian, as these issues can severely compromise an animal’s overall well-being and may require specialized medical attention.

12. Runny Nose Or Watery Eyes

A runny nose and watery eyes coupled with sneezing should never be taken lightly as it could indicate an upper respiratory tract infection like canine distemper virus infection.

If your pet displays these symptoms, please consult with a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the source of the illness and get your pet on the mend!

13. Unusual Lumps Or Bumps

Unexplained lumps and bumps on the skin surface often signal a serious health issue that requires immediate medical attention. If accompanied by itching or redness, it may be an indication of cancerous tumors or growths that should be examined by a veterinarian.

In order to properly diagnose and treat these conditions, a biopsy sample collection may be necessary for further analysis. It is important to note that any symptoms of abnormality in your pet should not be taken lightly and should be evaluated as soon as possible.

14. Changes In Behavior Or Temperament

Owners of senior pets should be aware of the significance and potential seriousness of any changes in behavior that may accompany sudden aggression, anxiety, or confusion in their beloved animals.

Aggression in dogs
Image credit: Chris F / Pexels

Many underlying medical conditions such as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) and seizures can underlie these behavioral changes, and a prompt visit to the vet is essential for proper diagnosis and implementation of a treatment plan.

Early recognition of warning signs that go beyond normal aging can make all the difference in helping your pet live its best twilight years.

15. Not Sleeping Well

If your pet suddenly begins to experience sleeplessness and restlessness at night time, it could be a sign of underlying pain.

In order to relieve their discomfort and accurately diagnose the condition, an immediate evaluation by a veterinarian is recommended. With proper diagnosis, effective pain medications can be prescribed for their relief and to maintain their quality of life.


Keeping track of any changes you notice in your pet’s behavior is key when it comes to ensuring their well-being. They depend on us for their care after all! Knowing what signs and symptoms to look out for will help you catch any potential illnesses early so that you can get them treated promptly before things become worse down the line. If you ever feel uncertain about whether there really is something wrong with your pet then always err on the side of caution. Schedule an appointment with a vet right away just to make sure everything is ok!

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