10 Common sick dog symptoms: how to tell if a dog is sick?

This article is about sick dog symptoms and what to do if your dog is sick. So, if you don't know how to tell if a dog is sick, you can get help here.
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This article is about dog sick symptoms and what to do if your dog is sick. So, if you don’t know how to tell if a dog is sick, you can get help here.

Dog Sick Symptoms - How to tell if a dog is sick - how to treat a sick dog at home

Dogs get sick for many different reasons, just like humans. Although they can’t tell what’s wrong with them, they can show you.

There are many different symptoms that they show when they don’t feel well. If you know what to look for, 7 times out of 10 you can tell if they are sick.

So knowing your dog sickness symptoms is very important, as you can’t run to your vet every time your dog sniffs.

Keep reading to get help with sick dog symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms of a Sick Dog?

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From vomiting to more serious sickness, you need to be aware of the symptoms to enable you to give your dog the help he needs. Eventually, if you suspect something is wrong, you can consult your vet.

Sick dog symptoms – the following are the symptoms of a sick dog:

  1. Behavioral changes
  2. Breathing difficulties
  3. Unexplained Weight Loss
  4. Lethargy
  5. Loss of Appetite
  6. Excessive drinking or urination
  7. Vomiting, gagging, coughing and sneezing
  8. Itching, scratching, and licking
  9. Bad breath
  10. Diarrhea

1. Behavioral Changes

Dogs tend to display behavioral changes when they are sick or in pain. These behavior changes usually happen suddenly.

Your usual social pup may start to withdraw. Or your cute, lively dog may start to show aggression, nippiness, or lethargy.

You should pay attention to your dog if he begins to growl when you approach a certain part of his body. That may be an indication of the source of his pain.

2. Breathing Difficulties

If your dog is having difficulty breathing, check the color of the gums and tongue. It should be pink. If you notice a bluish color, seek emergency care immediately. Signs of respiratory disease range from obvious to subtle. Consult your vet if you notice a honking cough, noisy breathing, persistent gagging, and shortness of breath.

3. Unexplained Weight Loss

Even in the case of an obese dog, a sudden weight loss should make you take your dog to the vet. Rapid and unexpected weight loss may indicate a serious health problem. If your dog’s weight drops by 10 percent, take him to your vet. In small dogs, this can be as little as one pound of weight loss.

4. Lethargy 

This is another symptom that probably shows your dog is sick. Your furry pal shows no interest for walk, play, or engaging in any other activities. It is quite difficult to diagnose lethargy symptoms since there are many causes such as fever, parvovirus infection, poisoning, distemper, heartworm disease, kennel cough, liver disease. So, the best is to contact your veterinarian for a perfect diagnosis.

5. Loss of Appetite

This is another indication of a sick dog. If your dog skips food more than once, then you can suspect that all is not well. Your dog may have some kind of sickness; you should contact your veterinarian immediately and carry out the test to discover the real causes of the loss of appetite.

6. Excessive Drinking or Urination

This can be a symptom for a number of conditions, which include diabetes, kidney disease. This is sudden and frequent attempts to urinate particularly if only small amounts are produced or if it comes with signs of blood or pain. This may indicate stones or a urinary tract infection. Your dog’s inability to urinate may be a life-threatening emergency.

7. Vomiting

Accidental vomiting is not always a cause for concern, but you can see your vet immediately if your dog is vomiting foreign material or blood, accompanied by pain, fever, or tries to vomit but nothing comes out, or if vomit lasts more than a few hours. Prolonged vomiting can lead to dehydration.

8. Itching, Scratching, and Licking

If you notice your dog itching, scratching, and licking, this is certainly a symptom you need to treat. Severe itching leads to scratching and licking of the skin, which in turn leads to hot spots and secondary infections. Getting to the root of your dog’s Itching is important to help him feel better.

9. Bad Breath

Dog bad breath is not only terrible for you and your family, but it can also be a symptom of a major complaint. Stinky breath can be a sign of periodontal disease or an oral tumor in dogs.

10. Diarrhea

There are a lot of reasons why your dog may have diarrhea. It usually happens when a dog eats something that is not part of its usual diet. But if it is persistent diarrhea that lasts more than 48 hours or there is any difference in the stool like the presence of mucus or blood. Then it is a good idea to visit your vet.

How Do You Treat a Sick Dog at Home?

Dog Sick Symptoms - How to tell if a dog is sick - how to treat a sick dog at home

Just like humans, dogs get sick from time to time; your furry pal can also get bruises, cuts, stings, and so on. But sometimes you may not have the time or option to take your dog to the vet.

Therefore, while you are waiting for your appointments, you don’t just have to sit around while your dog is suffering.

The following are things you can do to help relieve the pain, discomfort, and sickness in your dog.

1. Arthritis in Dogs

If your dog has arthritis, an orthopedic dog bed made of memory foam can help support your dog’s joints and bones.

Also, you can make cubes and ramps available to help your dog climb stairs and get up and down from couches.

Massaging the muscles early in the day can be helpful as it can increase mobility and flexibility, improve blood circulation, and help your dog relax.

Alternative health products alone may not help, you should discuss them with your veterinarian.

2. Stomach Problems

You can use Chamomile tea to relieve your dog’s stomach problems. It helps relax the muscles in your dog’s stomach and bowel.

Chamomile tea can be used to help indigestion, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, and vomiting.

Dogs with stomach problems due to anxiety can be helped with chamomile. It also relieves minor skin irritations.

3. Irritated Skin in Dogs (Itching)

You can use finely ground oatmeal as a remedy for irritated skin in dogs. Grind the oatmeal in a food processor, stir the oatmeal into warm bath water, and let your dog soak in the healing benefits.

Dogs with skin infections, allergies, and other itchy diseases have been proved to get instant relief through this approach.

Read more about this approach on Petmd.com

4. Keep Your Dog Hydrated During Sickness

Flavorless electrolyte like Pedialyte not only helps athletes replenish fluids and children rehydrate after sickness. It can also provide a sick dog’s body with electrolytes that it lost from sickness like vomiting or diarrhea.

Always consult your vet on how much you can give to your dog.

5. Dog Gum Disease

You can use dog mouthwash to treat gum disease in dogs. It keeps your dog’s oral health in good condition.

It has been specifically designed for dogs so that it is safe if ingested.

Dog mouthwash is helpful in reducing bacteria, improving respiration, and removing stubborn plaque buildup.

6. Dog’s Ear Infection

This is one of the common diseases in dogs. The grapefruit seed extract is a proven antiviral and antifungal natural ingredient.

It is a natural antioxidant; you can apply it to your dog’s ear or put 3 to 5 drops directly into his food. You can mix up to 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract with ½ ounce of pure aloe vera juice to make this natural mixture ear cleaner. 

You can also use oil of mullein if you have it at home. It can help ease pain and reduce swelling in your dog’s ear and can even kill viruses. If your dog is still in pain and it seems like the natural remedy is not helping you may seek veterinary help.

Read more about the best dog ear cleaners.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sick Dog Symptoms

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Do Dogs Like to Be Alone When Sick?

Just like humans, dogs like to be alone when they are not feeling fine. This act is a natural instinct of all animals, including dogs. They are forced to hide once they feel sick or weak as they realize that weak animals are simple targets for predators.

What to Give a Dog That Feels Sick?

If your furry pal is not feeling fine, you can try treating him with food that he does not normally eat. Food like chicken and rice, pumpkin, bone broth, peanut butter, baby food, and shredded chicken may be very tempting that your dog will want to eat something. Try a small amount of these foods at first to see if he eats. If not, try adding more.

What to Do if Your Dog Is Sick?

If your dog develops any of the above mention symptoms, at this condition, he will look to you for reassurance that everything will be okay and that you will take care of him. So, speak to him in a calm and gentle voice to help him relax. Stay calm, because your attitude around your dog can affect how he is feeling. 
Avoid unfamiliar people and places, sick dogs prefer to be surrounded by people and things they are familiar with when they are healing.


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And that’s it as far as dog sick symptoms are concerned.

Even if your dog can’t tell you that he is suffering, it is your responsibility to keep him healthy and happy. So it is important to notice the symptoms as soon as possible.

If after reading this guide, you are still wondering how to tell if a dog is sick or what to do if your dog is sick, then the best thing to do is to talk immediately with your local vet.

That being said, there is nothing left but to thank you for your attention up to this point.

I hope I have been helpful, and I wish you many moments of joy and satisfaction in the company of your beloved puppy.

Of course, if you have any questions or concerns along the way don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Until next time!

A big hug.

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Housam Ayouni
Housam Ayouni

I am a professional in the field of canine behavior and care with many years of experience. Through my dog blog, which has reached over one million dog owners, I offer practical tips and guidance to support dog owners in creating strong, positive relationships with their pets and promoting the well-being and happiness of all dogs. My goal is to help dog owners create a harmonious and fulfilling life with their furry companions.

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