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Five Signs Your Dog May be Sick

Updated on July 20, 2019
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Caitlyn loves animals of all species and sizes. Yes, that includes creepy-crawly bugs and snakes.

Feverish Pads/Ears

Dogs can experience fevers just like humans, but it can't be detected by feeling their foreheads. To check a dog for a fever, check the pads of their feet, their armpits, and their ears. If they feel hot to the touch, your dog may have a fever.

Fevers can mean a variety of things, just as they can in humans. If your dog has a fever along with other symptoms (such as vomiting or lethargy), it may be a good idea to consult a veterinarian.

Loss of Appetite

When a dog begins eating less, or stops eating completely, this can be a sign something is very wrong with them. Ranging from an abscess in their mouth to viruses, it is important to get to the bottom of this symptom. A trip to the vet should be taken immediately if it persists for days, especially if they begin to refuse water as well.

Sometimes, dogs are picky and may not want their dog food. Try giving them other foods to see if they refuse that as well. If they do, they may be ill.


Most dogs are full of energy, and even those who aren't are always getting up to move around or follow people around. If your dog is acting oddly lazy, or doesn't even want to go outside when normally he's excited to do so, there might be cause for concern.

Some dog breeds are naturally lazy, so be aware of other symptoms of lethargy in their behaviors.

Symptoms of Lethargy:

  • Excessive sleeping
  • Refusing food/water
  • Not greeting their owner
  • Losing interest in their toys and things that make them happy
  • Not responding to commands, or their response time is slower than normal
  • They seem less happy in general
  • They seem confused

Running Nose/Eyes and Sneezing

When a dog's eyes or nose has discharge, they should be observed over a couple of days to see if the symptoms persist or worsen. It can be something as simple as a cold or as significant as a respiratory problem. If the symptom is accompanied by wheezing, coughing, and/or excessive snoring, they may need to go see a vet. This is especially true if they develop a fever or their coughing/wheezing worsens.


Some dog breeds, such as pugs, are known to have breathing/respiratory issues because of their shorter snouts. This should be taken into consideration when taking them for walks - especially in the heat - and other activities.

Eating Grass

Dog owners often find their dogs will sometimes pick at grass while on a walk, or they will go into the yard simply to munch on certain plants. This behavior is odd because, normally, dogs don't eat grass. While it is not solid science, dogs seem to eat grass when they are having digestive problems or when they have an upset stomach.

If they are suddenly changed to a new dog food brand, for example, this can disrupt their digestive system. A dog cannot take a stool softener, so they eat grass, which isn't usually digested and seems to help them pass whatever it is upsetting them.

In other cases, they will eat grass and then vomit it back up, seemingly relieving their stomach of whatever it is bothering them.

Keeping an eye out for other symptoms along with grass-eating can help narrow down what may be upsetting the dog.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2019 Caitlyn Booth


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