Can you tell when your dog is not feeling well? Are you able to interpret the signs that he may be sick? If not, don’t feel bad. It can be difficult to tell when a dog is sick. This is true whether or not you’re a first-time pet parent or are an old hand at caring for a dog. The fact is it can be hard to tell if a dog is sick. The reason is that they tend to cover the fact they’re not feeling good.
So, how can you tell if your fur baby’s sick? If you’re not sure, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a short guide on signs and symptoms that may indicate your dog is sick.
Masking Their Illness & Pain
Many animals, including domesticated dogs, hide the fact that they’re sick and/or in pain. But why? What need is there to hide illness or pain? Your fur baby has a good a reason, which comes to him from his ancient canine ancestors.
Animals have evolved to mask signs of illness and/or pain as a survival mechanism. Before dogs were domesticated, they were wild, just like the wolves and other wild canines of today. In those ancient times, canines learned to mask their illness to keep from becoming prey or being attacked by other canines in their pack. Today, animals in the wild still mask any sign of weakness or illness, and for the very same reasons.
Masking their weakness was a way to survive; domesticated dogs still carry this behavior. This behavior, while it was a way to stay alive in the past, now makes it sometimes difficult for pet parents. When their fur baby hides an illness or pain, the underlying medical condition may go on for some time. When it’s finally obvious the pup is ill, then treatment can be more difficult. Pet parents wrack themselves with guilt; however, it’s just simply hard to tell sometimes when your dog is sick. So, don’t beat yourself up.
However, there are some common signs and symptoms that may indicate your canine companion is suffering from a medical condition.
Signs and Symptoms That May Indicate Your Dog is Ill
It’s important to understand that the signs or symptoms that your precious fur baby could be ill are subtle. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to how your dog is every day, rain or shine. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what “normal” is for your dog and will be able to better discern if he’s somehow feeling off.
It’s necessary to pay attention to how your dog acts, including what his usual habits are, and how he behaves most of the time. And when you brush, bathe, or pet your dog, it’s also a good time to check for any suspicious lumps, bumps, hotspots, etc. If your dog’s nose is hot, it could also be a sign that he might be sick. You may also come upon a sore place, such a spot on your dog’s back or one of his legs, which could be an indicate of a health problem. This knowledge helps you become familiar with what is normal for your fur baby, or what is not normal.
Now, here are the signs and symptoms that may indicate your fur baby’s sick:
1). Change in Personality or Behavior
When dogs don’t feel well, they may start to act in a different way. Their personality and behaviors may change subtly at first, and then more if a condition worsens.
For instance, some dogs that are normally boisterous and happy may all of a sudden (or gradually) stay off by themselves. They may not have the energy to do their normal activities and may not even be interested in those things that usually make them happy or excited.
And sometimes, especially if they’re in pain, a dog may snap (bite), growl, or show other signs of aggression that are out of character. Then there are other dogs that may become more clingy and needy.
If you notice these kinds of behavioral or personality changes, then it’s time to call the vet for a checkup.
2). Breathing Difficulties
If your dog normally has no problems with his breathing, but then gradually or suddenly develops breathing issues, then it’s time to see the vet.
Some signs of breathing issues include:
- Nasal discharge
- Wheezing/honking sound
These symptoms can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, heartworms, and more. Breathing problem can also be caused by allergies and asthma. If your dog shows these signs and symptoms, it’s a good idea to check his gums and tongue; if these are turning blue, this is a medical emergency. This is a sign your fur baby isn’t getting enough oxygen into his blood.
3). Stomach Problems
All dogs occasionally have bouts of tummy trouble. Being that they are prone to eating anything and everything, it’s no wonder! However, if your dog shows any of the following signs and symptoms, it may be a sign that he has something more wrong than just eating something from the waste basket:
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than 24 hours
- Bloody diarrhea
- Dry heaves
- Bloated abdomen
- Abdominal pain/swelling
4). Bathroom Problems
Sometimes a dog gets sick and has trouble making it outside in time. This is normal and can happen once in a while. However, if you find a change in your dog’s potty habits, then it’s something that needs to be checked by the vet:
- Trouble pooing
- Trouble urinating
- Increased amount or frequency in urinating
- Urinary or pooping accidents if your dog has been housetrained
Don’t usually don’t let you know they’re in pain. In fact, you may only find out when petting your dog. He may growl, snap, pull back or cry when you accidentally hit a painful spot. However, it’s a good idea to watch for these symptoms your dog is suffering with pain:
- Bone or joint swelling that is warm to the touch and new
- Trouble chewing, excessive drooling
- Lameness or stiffness that lasts longer than a day
- Reluctance to jump, walk or move as he normally would
- Guarding/protecting the part of the body that hurts
These are all symptoms that must be checked by your vet.
6). Other Signs of Illness in Dogs
Here are some other signs to watch for in your fur baby:
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dry, itchy skin, sores, lumps
- Shaking of the head
- Bad breath (that isn’t normal)
- Dry, irritated eyes
- Discharge from the nose
- Stumbling, problems with gait
These are all things that need to be checked out by the vet. One thing to keep in mind—with early diagnosis, there’s a great possibility your fur baby will heal and be back to normal in a shorter time. So, if you’re concerned with your pet’s safety and health, you may also want to consider getting a pet insurance like Bivvy as soon as possible before any health issues develop. This is because illnesses and other medical conditions that last for a long time are more difficult to treat.
Just be sure to watch your canine companion for anything that’s not normal and take him to be checked by the vet. The sooner he’s treated, the sooner your fur baby will feel better!