7 Signs That Your Dog May Be Sick & When to Call the Vet

Jul 11, 2018     |      Sophies Circle

Your dog can’t talk and tell you when they’re not feeling good. Nevertheless, most pet owners are aware of their dog’s behavior and can spot the signs when something is wrong. Over the course of your dog’s life, there will probably be several minor ailments and hopefully not too many major ones that require the attention of a trained veterinarian. It’s important to schedule regular checkups and be on the lookout for these signs that your dog is sick. 

Bad Breath or Drooling
While some people associate bad breath with dogs, there is a difference between dog breath and bad breath. If your dog’s mouth has an unusual odor to it, that could be a sign that something is wrong. Of course, he may have just caught a rodent or stuck his nose in something smelly, too. If you notice persistent bad breath, it may be a good idea to take your do go to the vet. He may need dental care, or he could be dealing with gastrointestinal, liver, or kidney problems.

Excessive Thirst or Urination
When it’s triple-digit temperatures in the summer, it’s normal that your dog needs extra servings of fresh water. However, if your dog seems thirstier than normal, that’s a possible indicator that something is not quite right. There are a variety of illnesses that could cause your dog to keep coming back for more water, and your vet will quiz you about other symptoms to diagnose the cause, such as a change in appetite or hair loss.

Change in Appetite
Dogs love food. When you serve them dinner, they tend to scarf down their allotted portion within seconds. If your dog doesn’t eat as much food one day or seems a little hungrier another day, that’s not always a cause for concern. A particularly active day may have made him hungry, and a growing dog may need more food. However, if your dog refuses to eat, eats very little, or never stops eating, you should get in touch with your veterinarian. Any change in appetite that also corresponds to a change in weight is a cause for concern in a grown adult dog.

Behavioral Changes
Your dog may have days when he’s grouchier or more tired than usual. If you notice a trend that your dog isn’t as interested in doing things as he once did or is sleeping more than he used to, it’s important to rule out any underlying problems. Your dog may also exhibit attitude changes that could be caused by an illness. Finally, if your dog is unable to do certain things, such as climbing stairs, you want to mention that to your vet, too.

Coughing or Labored Breathing
While the common cold is typically spread around humans, dogs can also cough. Unfortunately, a cough isn’t always benign and may indicate lung disease, heartworms, or another type of heart disease. If your dog has a hacking cough, he may have kennel cough. Kennel cough is contracted from other dogs and usually resolves within two weeks. Puppies are more vulnerable and could be at risk for pneumonia. Certain breeds are also more likely to have difficulties breathing, especially if they have a flat face.

Skin Problems
Your dog is a popular host for many types of critters. Between fleas and ticks, your dog may scratch often. Some dogs also react to certain allergens found in their food. If your dog has sores, dry or itchy skin, they may be fighting an infection or have an autoimmune disorder. Your vet can help you treat dermatitis and offer suggestions on getting your dog symptom relief.

Red or Cloudy Eyes
Eyes are considered the window of your soul, but they can also tell you a lot about the health of your pet. If you notice that your dog has red eyes, he may have an allergy or an injury to the eye tissues. Cloudy eyes are often a sign of cataracts or nuclear sclerosis. This is a common observance as your pet ages.

When to Call the Vet
Oftentimes, you can talk to your vet about the things you have observed at your next appointment. However, sometimes it’s more urgent and you need to take your pet in right away. If you’re not sure, just give the vet a call, and they’ll let you know. But here are some signs that your dog requires immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Panting, inability to lie down, and abdominal bloating
  • Seizures
  • Collapse or profound weakness
  • Profuse hemorrhage
  • Major trauma
  • Loss of use of rear legs
  • Not drinking or eating for a day