Posted by Pet Honesty on

Symptoms of a Sick Dog

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As dogs age, they will experience normal changes in their health; it’s helpful to be informed about which changes are typical as your pup grows up. Regardless of your dog’s age, though, it’s important to be able to tell when they’re hurting and do our best to help ease their pain.

You know your dog better than anyone else, so it likely isn’t too difficult to spot when something isn’t quite right. Being able to detect symptoms of illness early could prevent your sick dog from getting sicker, and potentially even be life-saving. 

Canines instinctively hide their illnesses and injuries when they first occur; this is believed to be a form of self-protection in order to avoid appearing vulnerable in the wild. At some point, though, the symptoms become more noticeable as the ailment progresses. 

Because dogs can’t communicate with their words, it’s important to understand the ways they could be using body language to show us that they’re not feeling well. Read on to familiarize yourself with common symptoms which could indicate a sick dog. 

Change in Appetite

Every dog has tummy troubles every so often, and some pups may be hesitant to try a new brand of food. However, if your dog is refusing to eat for over 24 hours, he’s probably not just being a picky eater. Persistent vomiting is also a reason to call the vet. 

A change in drinking habits is also something to watch for. If your pooch is drinking more or less water than usual, it could be a sign that he’s sick. Excessive thirst could be an indicator of a hormone issue or kidney problems. 

Trouble Breathing

If your dog is coughing, wheezing, or panting abnormally, he could be experiencing respiratory issues ranging from a simple cold to canine flu. 

Persistent gagging and nasal discharge can also be symptoms of respiratory issues. If your dog is having trouble breathing and his gums are pale or have a bluish tint, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. 


Bathroom Issues

A house-trained pooch likely won’t start having accidents around the house for no reason. Before you chalk it up to a rebellious phase, consider that your dog may be feeling under the weather. 

Diarrhea, constipation, trouble urinating, and excessive urination are all signs that something could be wrong. One diarrhea incident is probably not an emergency, but if it happens multiple times within 24 hours then it’s a good idea to contact your vet. 

Physical Changes

Unexplained and unexpected physical changes are some of the more noticeable symptoms of a sick dog. Hair loss, rash, sudden weight gain or weight loss, new lumps or sores (or changes to old ones), and generally looking unwell are all good reasons to call your vet. 

Skin is also a good indicator of your canine’s overall health. Dry or itchy skin could be a sign of allergies, or even flea bites that could transmit disease. Pet Honesty’s Allergy SkinHealth Chews can help to alleviate allergy-related skin issues such as inflamed and itchy skin, excessive shedding, and dull, dry coats. 

Noticeable Pain

Dogs will often choose to suffer in silence, which can make it difficult to tell when they’re in pain. One of the more obvious signs of pain is a reluctance to move or walk, or limping. Some dogs may guard the injured part of the body, or even act aggressive when touched. 

Do not give your dog pain medication unless prescribed by a professional. If your dog is showing signs of severe pain such as whimpering or aggressiveness when touched, or bleeding, seek care immediately. 

Signs of Emergency

Some symptoms and illnesses are more serious than others. Signs of a possible emergency include: 

  • Blue or pale gums
  • Labored breathing
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Severe vomiting, or repeated dry heaving
  • Inability to walk/signs of severe pain
  • Body temperature outside of the 99-104 degree range (Fahrenheit) 
  • Sudden or extreme changes in mental state and behavior
  • Neurological problems: seizures; twitches; walking in circles; disorientation; stumbling; loss of consciousness.

Of course, you know your furry friend best. If you notice any changes in behavior that are a cause for a concern, it’s never a bad idea to consult the vet. 


Because not all signs of sickness are obvious to the average pet owner, many veterinarians recommend annual preventive care screening. This can include: 

  • Electrolyte tests
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests 
  • Thyroid tests 
  • Testing for heartworm, ticks, or other infectious diseases
  • ECGs to test the heart rhythm and potential heart disease  

Of course, living a healthy lifestyle—full of walks/exercise and a healthy diet—is always recommended. Pet Honesty’s 10-for-1 Multivitamin provides your pooch with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and glucosamine to keep the joints, skin, digestive system, and overall immune system healthy.