Is My Dog Sick? Here are Three Warning Signs

It's heartbreaking to think about, but our beloved pets can get sick just like we can. As a dog owner, it's important to know the signs that could be pointing at your dog getting sick or them being healthy. Sometimes these signs can be incredibly subtle, or right in your face but you don't realize that they are signs that your dog is fighting some sort of internal battle.

There are tons of warning signs that your dog could be showing to tip you off that they're not feeling well, but here are three of the more important signs you should watch out for. 

Upset Stomach

There are a handful of symptoms that can go under digestive upset for dogs, so we're going to bundle all of those into one point because they are all equally as important. We know our dogs cant just tell us when they have a bellyache, but we can keep an eye out for signs that their GI tract is experiencing some upset. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, your vet should be able to recommend a good diet for your pet

For instance, you might notice your dog experiencing diarrhea, throwing up, or gagging when they're eating. These common sick dog symptoms can point to several problems, so be sure to bring your dog to the vet if you notice these things happening. What could be going on is a potential allergy developing or something even more serious than that. Dogs may not catch the same colds and the flu that we do, but they can get sick too. 

Another important digestive sign to keep a note of is any changes in their appetite. This can include eating less or refusing to eat even their favorite treats or any food. They may not be throwing up, but this is their way of telling you that they're not feeling well. 

Trouble Urinating

Trouble urinating in addition to increased fluid intake can both be signs of a serious illness brewing. This could be anything from a urinary tract infection to something as serious as a tumor growing that's blocking the path of urine. Your vet can do more investigation into why your dog is experiencing this and plan out the right course of treatment to get them back to feeling well again. 

They're Not Acting Like Themselves

Sometimes we humans can't find the right words to describe the unwell feelings that we are having. We just have a general feeling of unwellness. The same can happen with your dog, in the sense that you might just notice that they aren't acting like themselves. Maybe your dog is typically very rambunctious and perky, and playful, and you suddenly start noticing that they are sleeping and laying around more than usual. 

This can include any of the earlier points as well, but any changes that you notice from your dog's normal behavior could be an early or late warning sign that something is going on with their health that you may want to investigate further. 

Pets can, unfortunately, hide their illnesses very well. Many pet owners, including dog lovers, won't even know that their beloved pets are feeling ill until they become too sick to hide it. In the wild, hiding illnesses is a useful attribute. By not showing that you're sick, predators are less likely to attack you. However, in the context of domestication, we want to know that a pet is sick so we can treat them properly.

We want to be able to take the dog to the vet and get him or her adequate treatment. There are three warning signs a dog is sick, in particular, that you should know when it comes to illnesses. If your dog is showing any of these, you may wish to monitor them more closely or possibly even take them to a vet for some peace of mind!

Appetite Change

One of the first things that pet owners will notice when their beloved friend is not feeling well is a change in appetite. Many pets, when they feel off, will either refuse to eat or overeat. Some underlying diseases, like diabetes, for example, mean that a dog can be eating voraciously and yet still be losing weight. The reason for this is that the body has trouble metabolizing the ingested glucose, which, in turn, means that the body has to burn fat and muscle mass to survive! You don't run into the vet the first time your dog doesn't eat, but if you've been noticing an appetite increase or decrease that has persisted for a couple of days, it might be worth a follow-up appointment!

Bad Breath

If your dog has occasional bad breath or drooling, it might be a transient thing that will go away. However, diseases like kidney disease, diabetes, liver problems, and even tumors can cause bad breath. It can also be a sign of dental issues. Again, one day of bad breath isn't enough to call an emergency vet, but if you're noticing that no matter what you do, Fido's breath stinks, it's probably a good idea to consider a vet appointment!

Sleepiness Or Lack Of Interest

If your dog runs around like crazy and wants to get into everything, that's amazing! But if you start to notice your furry friend's activity levels go down, that could be a sign of underlying problems. Lethargy is typically one of the first signs that something might be wrong with a dog. Sometimes, pet owners will describe it as something being "off" with their dog, even if they can't point precisely to what it is. They'll seem slow, sluggish, or like their reaction times aren't what they used to be. They might seem a little more withdrawn as well. If you're noticing your pet becoming progressively more sluggish, then you will want to have that checked out to rule out any serious causes.

Always Schedule A Vet Appointment If You Feel Something Is Wrong

When it comes to pet illnesses, trust your instincts. You know your dog better than anyone else, and if you think something is seriously off, book an appointment. If you notice a change in appetite, bad breath, or lethargy that doesn't seem to be going away, your pet may be ill or coming down with an illness. Either way, you may wish to consider a trip to the vet's to make Fido and yourself feel better! 


We love our dogs, and never want to think about them feeling unwell or anything but happy. Being their caretaker is a full-time responsibility. A job that involves knowing how they act on a normal basis so that you will notice when they've started acting a little off. Using the clues and signs that they give us when they're not feeling the best, we can do everything in our power to help the vet return them to their best state of health.

Do dogs get sick?

Yes, our canine friends can get sick, too. They can catch "canine influenza", a dangerous condition in dogs that's similar to a human flu. Dogs can also get a number of different illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more.

How can you tell if a dog is sick?

It's not always easy to recognize that your furry friend is sick so it's extremely important that you're always on the lookout for the following symptoms: bad breath or drooling, frequent urination, change in appetite, change in activity level, sleeping more or sleeping less, dry or itchy skin, dry or reddish eyes, vomiting, and difficulty climbing the stairs.

What to do if your dog is sick

If your dog is sick and vomiting, avoid giving them water for the next two hours and hold back giving them food for six to eight hours. After this, slowly introduce bland meals to your dog. Consult your vet immediately if your pet does not get better the next day.

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Written by Leo Roux

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