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Signs of a Sick Dog

Updated on October 24, 2014

Light reading about your favorite pets. Animal Practice from Amazon

The vet cannot communicate verbally with a dog. This is where owners come in.

Knowing whether your dogs behavior has been out of the ordinary lately helps with discovering their illness.
Knowing whether your dogs behavior has been out of the ordinary lately helps with discovering their illness. | Source

Training your dog is a possibility with the right tools

Know the signs of a sick dog. Simply acting a little strange is not enough

Dogs get sick just like people do. Unfortunately, unlike most people they cannot tell you where it hurts. They are unable to verbally relay they have an ache in their back, a pain in a leg or a muscle cramp. Even a tummy ache is not necessarily a dog throwing up. Laying around and whining is possibly the only telling sign which means anything. Unable to communicate with a voice and language it is a guessing game at best. This is a concern since some illnesses are much more serious than others.

This makes diagnosing them difficult, even for the vets. A visit to the vet may be in order. Though at times this visit is made unnecessarily. What was thought to be grave turned out to be a simple issue. Medical intervention was unnecessary. Knowing which particular signs to look for with your dog to discover a dangerous situation or illness has the potential to save you and the dog an unnecessary stressful as well as expensive trip to the vet.

These are more than a few indicators an animal does not feel well and will help make an informed decision before going to the vet;

Refusing to eat

Dogs generally eat if they are hungry. Some have the intelligence to let you know they are hungry before its time to eat with a simple nonverbal cue. Not eating doesn't mean an illness. There are valid reasons for not wanting a meal, just like humans. Yet, make sure its only a full stomach turning Fido away from his bowl.

Of course, a full dog won’t eat. However, if you notice no appetite or a change in normal eating patterns it could be a serious situation. There are a few things to do before calling an ambulance. Try these methods of detection.

Try tempting him with his favorite treat or something generally not found on the dog menu and see if this works. An pet refusing all food because of an ailment will generally also refuse even his favorite food. This says something is wrong and verify it with a visit to the vet.

A number of them refuse a meal if with a recent change has been made to their regular food. They turn away from new food for a number of reasons. A good example is going from a wet form of food to a dry dog food. Switching from an expensive brand to a less expensive one will cause a dog to say no to a meal. If this is the only symptom, delay a doctor visit.

If they get hungry enough they go with the new food. Also be aware when food is switched from one kind to another it generally causes some form of digestive upset and diarrhea, so be prepared.

The most important thing to note is if they are hungry. Dogs that appear hungry and eat then vomit will generally have an illness. Food that has been digested or sits in the stomach long enough to partially digest points to an issue in the lower digestive tract. The action is eating and getting sick after a while. Look at the vomit to describe it to the vet. They will ask.

Food immediately comes back up still intact immediately after eating typically steers to the opinion there is a blockage in the digestive tract. A blockage is a serious issue and characteristically leads to death. If you fear your dog has ingested something that may have caused a blockage or bowel obstruction, see your vet immediately.

They have been known to eat anything. Some are partial to things like socks or other small objects with a strong sense of the owner's smell. Others spending lots of time in the yard will ingest small stones or even walnuts. Consumption of anything not food or water is serious. Seek medical attention and advice.

Changes in socialization

Social habits are a distinct indicator to something out of the ordinary. Just like humans avoid contact with others when they feel ill, so do canines. One usually greeting your arrival home with a wagging tail and tongue poking out, but recently doesn’t even raise his head from his spot on the floor could mean some degree of illness. Every dog is different. Their personality traits help determine if anything is out of sync. Knowing your animal and their normal behavior is extremely important in getting the diagnosis correct when they are out of sorts.

Those enjoying to play with the children, but start avoiding contact with them now may be a sick pet. Avoiding their normal forms of interaction with people could signify an injury. The physical part of their personality is changed because they instinctually guard the injured portion of their body to avoid pain. They may even nip or bite if you attempt to examine the area and significant pain occurs.

Limping or walking strange

Frisky agile dogs refusing to run and play are frequently experiencing pain. They hold paws or legs up and out of the norm or limp and refuse to run or put weight on it. Some even struggle going potty because of the issue. If you are able to see an actual break or bone that doesn't look quite right is obvious.

These are immense signs of a sick dog and should be taken into account. Schedule an appointment with your vet to know for sure.

Sleeping more than normal

Sleeping more than usual is a sign of a sick dog. If he is extremely old or a puppy he will sleep longer and more than others. On the whole adult or teenage dogs don’t require an extended amount of sleep to remain healthy. The norm is taking a nap after a rough play time or simply sleeping when you sleep. Dogs usually do not require an extended amount of sleep and never the same amount as a human. If he is hard to wake up or does not respond when called if sleeping, mark this as a symptom of something else.

Finding your dog sleeping an extended amount of time may be a sign of infection. Dogs that are sleeping at odd times is a reason for concern. An example would be a houseful of people walking around and talking at a party or when the kids are squealing and running around playing and the dog is sleep is abnormal.

Generally lethargy

General lethargy could be an indication of several things. Lack of energy or fervor or usual joy in things they previously showed enthusiasm for is a warning sign. Dull response to stimuli and lethargic eyes are also bad. If the symptoms persist make an appointment with their vet. It could be a mental or physical issue.

Urination or fecal issues

If you notice blood in urination or fecal matter this is a definite sign of a serious illness. Too much or too little urination can also point to a sign of distress with your dog’s health do not wait to have these things checked out.

Usually if they have eaten something blocking their bowel they will not go to the bathroom. Watch for any changes in bathroom habits.

Mental Illness

A usually independent soul turning to a clinging animal marks sicknesses effecting their mental status. Lots of humans disregard this part of the pet's health. Suffering from depression or separating anxiety happens. Maybe boarding the dog and taking a long vacation caused the stress they feel. There are treatments by vets for these issues as well.

Some owners adopting dogs from a shelter run into warnings of previous abuse. Always discuss this clue or hint with a vet. Abused dogs are sometimes dangerous, but it is not their fault. How healthy a dog is physically doesn't always mean his mental health is okay as well.

Things to remember

After you have scheduled an appointment with your veterinarian there are some things you will be responsible for other than the bill. Explain in detail what you have observed. Remember your animal cannot speak for himself and relies on your to relay information on his behalf when you have observed the signs of a sick dog.

In conclusion

Pets, especially dogs, have the capacity to get the same afflictions found in humans. Diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes and even cancer are a possibility. Once a diagnosis has been made by a reliable trained professional it is a serious decision what to do next. Discuss treatment, prognosis and even costs to take care of the problem.

Make an educated choice of where to go from here. Take into account the animal and what pain and suffering they will possibly contend with and decide if your loved one is worth it and if it is better to do an unselfish act for those diseases with a horrible prognosis. It is possibly one of the most difficult decisions lots of people will make in their lives.

Verify if your dog has parvovirus. One of the most deadly diseases faced by canines today

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    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      The trick here is knowing your animal. Great advice.

      The Frog

    • MarloByDesign profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Great points...I hope pet owners figure out some of the things you suggested by being a smart pet owner, but if not, your reminders are most helpful.


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