Common Dog Illness Symptoms

When it comes to getting your pet the attention and care they need, it helps to catch whatever is bothering them as soon as possible. The best way to do that? To always keep an eye on your pet’s behavior and spot common dog illness symptoms quick! This time on the Acoma Animal Clinic blog we’re going to list some of the more common symptoms of illness in dogs. We’re not going to be going over every potential cause or  how to address them, just the symptoms to keep an eye out for!

Common Dog Illness Symptoms

Note: For any of these symptoms, once spotted you need to call your vet. They might be symptoms of a minor illness – but that’s still something you’ll want to verify with your vet!

Bad Breath or Drooling

Bad breath and/or drooling can have a number of causes, from tooth decay to heat stroke to anxiety to upper respiratory or sinus infections. Bad breath or drooling are clear signs that something isn’t right. If you have reason to suspect heat stroke, or your dog has spent a lot of time in the sun get them somewhere shaded and cool them down right away!

Excessive Drinking or Urination

Excessive thirst or urination can have a range of causes from a simple fever or diarrhea to more serious diseases such as diabetes, kidney or liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and a range of things between. It’s possible a medication your pet is currently on may be increasing their thirst. 

Appetite Change / Fluctuation in Weight

If your dog stops eating for any reason something is wrong. Similarly, if they are still eating a regular amount, or even voraciously, but are losing weight? That’s also cause for concern. These kind of symptoms can be signs of diabetes, heart disease, digestive troubles, and more. If you’re feeding your dog the right amount at the right schedule, they should be maintaining weight. If any of that isn’t happening as it should, call your vet.


If you’ve ever come down with a cold you know how your body fighting it off can take it right out of you. The same is true of your dog! When pets aren’t feeling well they’ll typically find a quiet place to lay down or stay in their kennel or doghouse. They’re just not feeling up to doing much. Because of the huge range of illnesses and diseases that could potentially cause lethargy, this is particularly important to call your vet quickly.

Stiffness, Difficulty Standing or Climbing Stairs

Like lethargy, this change in their motor functions is a clear illness symptom for your dog. Older dogs may develop arthritis and begin to not feel comfortable climbing up ro down stairs, or the pain might be too much for them. There could also be some nerve degeneration at play. This is less likely an ‘illness’ to be clear, but it does speak to your dog’s overall health. Call your vet and schedule an appointment. Your pet may require supplements for joint health, or you may need to start carrying them up and down stairs to avoid any injury.

Sleeping More

Stress, separation anxiety, or any of a whole host of other ilnesses could be to blame for your dog trying to get more sleep. Keep in mind, a dog sleeping for up to 12 hours a day or even a little bit more can be normal! So consider what your dog’s normal sleep rate is and verify if this is indeed more.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes can cover a lot of different behaviors. Growling more, aggression, shyness. All of these speak to something being wrong with your dog. Dogs typically will respond with aggression if they aren’t feeling well, have an injury, or are in pain. If you notice your dog is behaving differently, that’s cause for concern.

Coughing, Sneezing, Labored Breathing or Excessive Panting

Coughing and sneezing can be symptoms of a simple flu! That’s right dog’s can get canine influenza. They may also be suffering from allergies. If however there is labored breathing or excessive panting as well it is likely something more serious. There may be a respiratory issue or heart disease.

Dry or Itchy Skin 

Your dog may have dry, itchy skin because of fleas, yes but it may also be allergies! Get some allergy medicine from your vet to help them be more comfortable. If they’re too itchy it might lead to hot spots!

Change in Bowel Movements

If you’re walking your dog or picking up after them out back (as you should be,) you’ll likely spot this right away! If youre dog has loose stool for more than one movement in a row, there may be something wrong. Similarly, if your dog refuses to go number two, that also could point to an impacted bowel or something in the digest tract. Always keep an eye on what their waste looks like, as it is one of the clearest signs that something is wrong internally.

Now, it’s important to remember that your pet’s typical behavior may be unique, and the only one who knows best is going to be you. If your dog seems to be behaving off, in any way, you should give your vet a call right away. The sooner you act, the better your pet’s chances are!
If you’re in the Tucson area and need a vet, call Acoma Animal Clinic to schedule your first appointment today!

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