How to Tell if Your Dog is Sick

Dogs, just like people can have their off days sometimes but something a lot of pet owners struggle with is knowing how to tell if your dog is sick or if it might just be a slump. We’ve previously talked about some of the basic dog symptoms to keep an eye out for but here are some more things to look for to make sure your pooch is staying happy and healthy.

Physical Appearance

The outward appearance of your pet will be one of the first things you might notice are out of the ordinary. You see your furry friend every day and no one knows how they look better than you do. Keep and eye out for for any lumps or bumps, monitor any new growths, changes to old ones, or ones that may be bleeding or oozing. Other physical traits to look out for can include fluctuating weight, hair loss, rashes, persistent itching, and scratching at the ears.

Fever or Pain

Just like with people, a good way of knowing how to tell if your dog is sick is their temperature. The only real way to check a dog’s temperature is with a thermometer, it is a pretty common misunderstanding that a dry and warm nose means trouble. If the temperature is about 103 F and your pup is acting sick, scheduling a vet visit is highly recommended. 

When it comes to pain, most dogs will often not make it known what they are feeling but there are a few signs that you may notice to signal they are in pain. If your pet doesn’t seem to want to move, lameness or stiffness that lasts longer than 24 hours, swelling, or guards the specific body part they might be experiencing some sort of pain or discomfort. If they are having trouble chewing or drooling those could be signs that they are having pain in their mouth.

Trouble Breathing

Respiratory problems can range from very obvious to extremely subtle but when noticed require vet consultation immediately when noticed. Persistent coughing that lasts more than 24 hours, discharge that contains mucus or blood, or gagging can all signal issues with the respiratory system. The quality of the breathing can also be a sign to look out for. If the breathing is labored, noisy, or wheezy contact your vet. If you notice that your pet is struggling to breathe, check their gums and tongue. If healthy, the gums and tongue should be pink in color, if there is a bluish tint contact your vet immediately as your dog is not receiving enough Oxygen through circulation.

Appetite and Bathroom Habits

A dog laying on the floorVomiting and diarrhea can be common in dogs on occasion, but when it is persistent (over 24 hours), or accompanied by lethargy or loss of appetite. When looking at stool, it is often important to take notice of the consistency over a 24 hour period as well as keep an eye out for any blood that may be present. Abdominal pain and swelling, as well as repeated dry heaves, restlessness, or a distended belly could be signs of bloat, especially in large breeds.

In addition to diarrhea, any changes in your pooches regular bathroom habits could mean there is some kind of problem. Any trouble going to the restroom, whether it be urinating or defecating, increased frequency or volume of urine, or accidents in the home by a dog that has been house trained are all signs that something might be making your dog feel under the weather.

Change in Behavior

You know your furry friend better than anyone, so you’ll be one of the first to notice when they are acting differently. Often times, a change in behaviour can be a good way to know how to tell if your dog is sick. A few common behavior changes can include irritability, withdrawal, agitation, clinginess or lethargy, and should be cause for a vet visit if noticed.

Neurological Problems

Arguably the most serious of signs to look for are any that affect the nervous system of your pet. Things such as weakness, stumbling, disorientation, seizures, and loss of consciousness all require an immediate visit to your veterinarian. 

Although not all signs and symptoms mean something is wrong with your pup, it doesn’t ever hurt to get it checked out. Our pets can’t tell us when something is wrong like people can, so it’s up to us to take care of them. If you notice any of these symptoms or have questions, contact us. We’re happy to help!

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