Common Signs of Illness in Dogs

Taking care of a puppy or dog means being responsible for their health. Those becoming pet owners for the first time may want to learn more about how to maintain their pet’s health and how to recognize the initial signs of a problem.

Understand more about common signs of illness in canines today.

Changes in Body Language or Behavior

Initially, a dog may not express signs of illness. However, a pet owner may see an alteration in body language that can be a sign of discomfort or illness.

A generally active dog that becomes more lethargic or one that is generally friendly but becomes more withdrawn may be experiencing constipation, discomfort or something more.

Soft or Watery Stool

Dogs can experience diarrhea and this issue can become immediately apparent to an owner. Pet owners should be aware that dogs can have small bowel or large bowel diarrhea. Small bowel diarrhea results in a dog making a large amount of softer stool a couple of times during the day, while large bowel diarrhea results in a smaller amount of stool that is watery.

In the second case, the dog strains to go and produces diarrhea frequently. Following special diets can help eliminate this common issue in a dog. See an experienced veterinarian for a case of diarrhea or vomiting that continues for more than a day.

Excess Weight and Health Complications

Many pets are not getting the nutrition they need. Dogs may have different nutritional requirements at different stages of life. Obesity, arthritis and high blood pressure do not only develop in humans, but in dogs as well. 

Excess weight gain can be addressed an owner, as it is possible to weigh a dog and make changes to their diet. With overweight dogs, avoid feeding them table scraps regularly to reduce sources of additional calories. Some foods are also hard to digest which can result in a gastrointestinal problem.

More Serious Signs of Illness

Dog owners are advised to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian if these common signs last longer than a day:

  • Change in behavior;
  • Whimpering or resistance to touch in an area;
  • Nasal congestion or discharge;
  • Frequent panting or wheezing;
  • Excessive scratching;
  • Constipation;
  • Frequent urination;
  • Excessive salivation or thirst;
  • Weakness or lameness;
  • Lethargy; and
  • A poor appetite.

All such signs may indicate that a dog is sick or hurt. At times, a visit to the emergency clinic is necessary, such as when a dog exhibits:

  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Pale gums;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Dizziness or circling;
  • A significantly bloated abdomen;
  • Loud and consistent crying or aggressive behavior when touched;
  • Seizures; and
  • A body temperature that exceeds 104° F or decreases to below 99° F.

Pet owners would do well to err on the side of caution, scheduling an appointment with their trusted veterinarian or taking their dog in for an emergency visit when certain symptoms arise.

New to Caring for a Dog

New dog owners are responsible for the general well-being of their pet. Dogs are known to have unique personalities and it becomes easier to notice subtle changes to their behavior over time. Average and larger dog breeds need more exercise than smaller breeds. A lack of physical exercise can lead to weight gain and destructive behaviors.

Dogs also require adequate mental stimulation and socialization. When these requirements are met, pet owners may expect a decrease in tendencies to behave in inappropriate ways and potentially ingest materials or chemicals that can lead to illness. Speak with an experienced veterinarian to understand more about illnesses common to a specific dog breed.