See These Top 5 Sick Dog Symptoms You Should Know

As dog owners, we typically like to do what we can to take care of our pets. It's not an understatement to say that pets genuinely become like family. As such, we always want what's best for them.

Unfortunately, like all other creatures on this planet, dogs can get sick. They also cannot tell us anything about how they feel when they are sick. When illness comes (and that is inevitable), you'll need to be familiar with the sick dog symptoms and signs for good health in dogs so you can know when it's time to take little Fido to the vet.

Fortunately, after reading this relatively quick post, you'll know what the top five symptoms are that you should know! It's not an understatement to say that knowing these symptoms could potentially save your dog's life!

Gastrointestinal Issues Are a Common Sick Dog Symptom

If you notice your dog having diarrhea, throwing up, or being constipated for a prolonged period, there's almost always something amiss with your pup. Many illnesses will manifest themselves through one of those symptoms. For example, a foodborne sickness usually has vomiting or diarrhea. Even cancer and other diseases that you might not associate with gastrointestinal problems can cause these issues.

Most sites say that observing these symptoms for more than 48 hours is when you'll want to take your dog to the vet. However, 48 hours is a long time - especially if you notice other symptoms (like refusing to eat) as well. Always remember that you know your pet better than anyone else. If you think there are dog health issues, don't hesitate to call your vet and book an appointment!

Refusal To Eat or Drink

Your dog not wanting to eat occasionally is not cause for concern. But, if your dog isn't interested in food and not eating for more than 24 hours, it's probably time to call a vet. Especially if they've suddenly lost interest in food or treats that they used to like before. There are numerous illnesses, including cancer, that can manifest themselves as a refusal to eat.

Dogs can survive approximately 3-5 days without food. However, this is not ideal by any means. More importantly, though, is water intake. If you notice that your dog is refusing to drink water, that is a much more immediate cause for concern. A tummy ache or eating something terrible could cause your dog to momentarily stop eating, but if they stop drinking, that's a sign that a vet visit is on the horizon.

Excessive Anything

If you find your dog urinating excessively, drinking excessively, or even sleeping excessively, that could be a sign that your dog is sick. Your dog might even bark excessively to try and get your attention.

Drinking a lot of water and urinating frequently is often a sign of diabetes. Lethargy can be a sign of a whole slew of illnesses, including everything from a dog virus to diabetes to cancer.

This point also applies to behavior. If you notice your dog being excessively aggressive or withdrawn, that could be a sign of illness. For example, in the wild, a dog showing weakness would be easy prey. When dogs feel ill, they're weaker, and they don't have the mental ability to understand that you will help them, not harm them in their time of need. Therefore, dogs will try and hide until they feel back to normal. This excessive or uncharacteristic withdrawal is often evidence of an illness manifesting itself. 

Bad Breath or Red/Swollen Gums

Both of these symptoms can be a sign of gum disease. With our canine friends, if this disease doesn't receive the proper treatment, it can progress to the point where the dog loses teeth or is in so much pain eating that he or she no longer wants to eat anymore. Both of these scenarios are not ideal!

Therefore, if you notice bad breath or swollen gums, you'll probably want to get them checked out sooner rather than later. If you leave it too long, your dog could eventually be in a lot of pain and have difficulty eating!

Skin Issues

Many illnesses manifest themselves on the skin and fur coat first. If you notice persistent itching or you see sores, that could be a sign of allergies. It could also be a sign of a reaction to flea bites which should receive treatment as soon as possible. Skin issues could even be a sign of cancer!

Pay close attention to your dog's fur and the skin underneath. If you notice any changes - or any markings that weren't there before - you should call your vet right away!

Please Know These Sick Dog Symptoms


No matter what type of furry companion you have - even if you picked one of the dogs with the least health issues - your dog will eventually get sick. When that happens, you'll need to decide to try and treat the illness at home, or you'll need to determine if you want to go to the vet. As with humans, most of the time, plenty of rest, fluids, and love will get your pet feeling better.

However, there are some cases where you'll want to take Fido in for a checkup. If you notice any of the dog symptoms above, and they seem to be persistent, taking your dog in is likely the wisest move!

Can dogs get viruses?

Yes! Much like humans, there are many viruses that dogs can get. These viruses can affect everything from your pet's respiratory system to his or her heart.

Can cats give dogs diseases?

Yes, there are diseases that cats can pass on to dogs. For example, roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, and whipworm can pass from cats to dogs through infected fleas. It is worth noting that most viruses will not pass from one species to the other - only parasites.

Can humans get diseases from dogs?

Yes, humans can get diseases from dogs. Dogs can carry "bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that can cause illness if transmitted to humans." Of course, not all diseases are transmittable (like heartworms), but many benign issues are communicable.

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Written by Leo Roux


It caught my attention when you said that dogs can catch viruses as humans do, and these can affect their respiratory system and heart. With this in mind, I will be sure to bring my 6-month old labrador to an animal hospital as soon as possible. He has been refusing to eat since yesterday morning, and he has been so lethargic as well. I could not help but get worried.

Shammy Peterson on Mar 01, 2022

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