Warning Signs Your Dog May Be Sick

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Since our dogs can’t communicate verbally when they’re not feeling well, it’s extremely important to learn to recognize the signs.

As their owner, you know their habits and behaviors better than anyone else. Knowing what to look for is your best line of defense against illness. Any sudden changes in their behavior, personality, or routine are usually warning signs of something more serious. If your dog seems “off,” you might have a sick puppy.

Here are some of the signs to look out for–but remember, always consult with your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog might be sick.

Changes in Behavior

A change in behavior is likely the first indication that your dog is sick. Dogs are pretty consistent, so any sudden changes or new habits could be cause for concern. Look for things like needy or clingy behavior, withdrawal, lethargy or excessive sleeping, irritability, or reactive behaviors like growling or snapping.

Outward Appearance

Physical signs are an obvious way to know that something is not right with your pup. This could include something as big as sudden weight loss or gain, down to something like a persistent itch. Also be on the lookout for lumps, bumps, sores, rashes, or hair loss.

Respiratory Problems

The occasional cough or sneeze is likely not cause for concern, but if your dog has a honking cough or a persistent cough that lasts more than 24 hours, you should check with your veterinarian. Labored breathing, wheezing, persistent nasal discharge, and frequent gagging are all also reasons to call the vet.

Changes in Bathroom Habits

If your dog is house-trained, an increase in inexplicable indoor accidents are an indication that there is a problem. You should quickly contact your veterinarian if your dog has suddenly started having trouble defecating or passing urine, as this could be a sign of a quite serious issue such as a blockage.

Tummy Troubles

While single instances of diarrhea or vomiting aren’t necessarily cause for concern, repeated bouts are indicative of a more serious issue. If vomiting or diarrhea last for more than 24 hours, you should call the vet immediately. Also be on the look out for other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, abdominal pain or swelling, restlessness, dry heaves, or bloody stool.

Neurological Problems

Neurological problems require immediate veterinary attention, so do not hesitate to call. Signs of nervous system trouble could include weakness, stumbling, disorientation, repetitive circling or twitching, loss of consciousness, or seizures.