Signs Your Dog Is Sick and Should Visit the Vet

Updated on: Apr 28, 2023
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Signs Your Dog Is Sick and Should Visit the Vet

Some diseases and illnesses in dogs are serious and should be urgently treated. Early identification and treatment can help keep the condition from deteriorating and may increase the odds of a favorable result. 

Here are 21 indicators that your dog is unwell and should see a vet!

Loss of Appetite

When combined with other signs, a lack of appetite in canines can indicate disease. Your dog might not be eating because of the discomfort caused by: 


  • dental issues
  • problems with digestion
  • bacterial and viral infections
  • anorexia
  • pain
  • and stress.

Changes in Water Intake

When accompanied by other symptoms, a shift in water consumption might indicate disease in dogs. Dogs may drink more water for various reasons, including: 


  • the accumulation of toxins
  • dogs with kidney illnesses.
  • high blood sugar or diabetic dogs
  • Cushing's illness

In addition, increased thirst and fluid intake may be side effects of several medications, including corticosteroids and diuretics.

It is common for dogs to consume more water than usual while they are experiencing heat stroke to reduce their body temperature, so if your dog suddenly stops drinking as much water as usual, you should take him to the vet right away.

Change in Energy Level 

An altered activity level may indicate disease in dogs, especially when accompanied by other signs of distress. The following are some of the possible cases: 

  • Dogs with diseases like pneumonia or abscesses may have less energy than healthy dogs.
  • Anemia, or having fewer red blood cells, makes the dog tire out quickly.
  • Dogs with cancer often have less power than healthy dogs.
  • Lowered vitality levels may be the result of a thyroid issue.
  • Your dog's energy level may drop if they are in extreme pain.
  • The energy levels of older dogs may naturally decline.

It's best to talk to your dog's vet if you observe a sudden shift in their energy level so that the problem can be diagnosed and treated immediately. 

Change in Bathroom Habits

When accompanied by other symptoms, a change in a dog's urination or defecation routine may indicate disease. Some causes may be: 

  • digestive issues
  • urinary tract infections
  • bladder stones
  • hormonal issues
  • and food and medicine intake.

Dogs may vary their bowel motions or urination habits if they have gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, or inflammatory bowel disease. Increased urination or incontinence in your dog may be signs of a urinary tract infection. Consult a vet to find out what's happening and how to treat your dog if you detect a change in its potty habits.

Weight Loss

Loss of appetite and dehydration are additional symptoms that may indicate illness in dogs. Possible reasons for a dog's weight decrease include:

  • Dogs with dental issues
  • Illnesses of the digestive tract
  • Cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Dietary shifts

A trip to the veterinarian can help you diagnose your dog's condition and determine the best course of treatment.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

The presence of other symptoms or the persistence of vomiting and diarrhea beyond two days may indicate that your dog is ill. Dogs may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for different reasons, but here are some of them: 

  • Bacterial or viral illness
  • Trouble digesting food
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Allergy or intolerance to a new diet
  • Parvovirus
  • Poison intake

Coughing and Sneezing

When combined with other symptoms, this could indicate that your dog is ill. There are many potential causes of canine coughing and sneezing. Sneezing and coughing can be signs of an illness in dogs. Kennel cough and the canine flu are two examples of infectious diseases that can manifest in canines.

Pollen, dust, and mold spores can trigger allergic reactions in dogs, manifesting as a hacking cough or watery eyes. Heart disease, cancer, and allergies might cause a dog to cough or sneeze. 

Difficulty in Breathing 

In dogs, breathing difficulties can be a symptom of a potentially fatal illness. Regarding canine respiratory distress, some possible causes include the following: 

  • bacterial or viral infection
  • allergies
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • congenital abnormalities
  • and if the dog has swallowed something foreign.

Breathing problems in dogs can be a severe emergency that requires prompt veterinary care.

Change in Behavior and Personality

A behavior change may indicate that your dog is sick when accompanied by other symptoms. Possible reasons for a shift in canine behavior include: 

  • pneumonia
  • abscesses
  • extreme pain
  • cognitive deterioration
  • new diet
  • medication
  • stress,
  • and anxiety.

 If you see a shift in your dog's behavior, it's important to take them to the doctor so the issue can be properly identified and treated.

Swelling or lumps

You should take your dog to the vet if you see any lumps or swelling, especially if they appear suddenly or in conjunction with other symptoms. Possible causes of canine tumors and swelling include: 


  • infection
  • abscess
  • cancer
  • allergic reaction
  • tumors
  • injury
  • and surgery. 

Changes in skin or coat condition

When accompanied by other symptoms, a dog's skin or coat change might indicate sickness. Alterations in a dog's skin or coat condition may be the origin. Signs of an allergic reaction can cause redness in a dog's skin.

A dog's skin and coat health can be negatively impacted by the following: 

  • bacterial infections
  • fungal infections
  • hormonal imbalances
  • parasitic infestations
  • imbalance diet
  • and hypothyroidism.

Bad breath or oral problems

Coupled with additional symptoms, bad breath or dental difficulties can indicate sickness. Possible reasons for your dog's stinky breath or dental health issues include the following:

  • dental diseases like tooth decay
  • bacterial or fungal infections
  • cancer
  • dry mouth
  • diabetes

Changes in eyes or ears

Some possible reasons a dog's eyes or ears can change include the following: 

  • bacterial or fungal illnesses
  • allergic reaction
  • irritation
  • results from cancer treatment
  • injuries and operations
  • and hormonal imbalance.

 If your dog has an issue with its eyes or ears, it's best to take it to the vet to get it checked out and treated.

Difficulty walking or joint stiffness

Stiff or painful joints may indicate sickness in dogs, mainly if they arise suddenly or in conjunction with other symptoms. Possible reasons why your dog might be having trouble getting around or showing signs of stiff joints include the following:

  • Dogs with arthritis
  • If a dog has been injured
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Canine back issues
  • Canine degenerative myelopathy

Excessive scratching or licking

Scratching and licking excessively are common symptoms of illness in dogs, mainly when they occur in tandem with other signs or last for more than a few days. Excessive licking and scratching in dogs could have several causes. Here are some of them: 

  • allergies
  • skin illnesses
  • Parasites
  • dry skin
  • stress and anxiety

Heatstroke or respiratory distress

A dog's life can be in danger from heatstroke and respiratory difficulty, especially during hot weather. It is dangerous to leave a dog in a hot environment for an extended period of time since the dog could suffer from heatstroke. 

Heatstroke can also strike your dog if you take him for a run when he isn't acclimated to the weather. The risk of heatstroke in dogs varies depending on breed. 

Heatstroke in dogs causes the dog to: 

  • pant excessively
  • breathe rapidly
  • drool
  • vomit
  • have diarrhea
  • and have trouble walking. 

Heatstroke can be fatal if it goes untreated, causing organ failure.

Seizures or tremors

Canine tremors and seizures are cause for concern when they persist for more than a few minutes or when accompanied by other symptoms. Potential canine seizure and tremor triggers include the following: 

  • epilepsy
  • bacterial and viral infection
  • poison intake
  • trauma
  • liver failure
  • and low blood sugar.

A veterinarian should be consulted for the diagnosis and treatment of canine seizure and tremor disorders. Seizures and tremors should be treated as soon as possible because they can be indicators of more severe illnesses.

Unusual discharge from nose or eyes

Discharge from the dog's eyes or nose could have several different reasons. It could be a sign of infection, allergic reaction, or cancer. Dogs with a foreign object lodged in their nose or eye may experience this too. 

You should take your dog to the vet if you detect any strange discharge from its eyes or nose so that they can diagnose the problem and prescribe the right therapy.

Panting or rapid breathing

When dogs are overheated or overexercised, their respiratory rates increase, and they pant.  But, if your dog's panting and rapid breathing persist for an extended period of time, it may be a sign that he or she is ill.

Panting and fast breathing in dogs can be signs of an infection, allergic reaction, heart disease, cancer, or if they are in extreme pain. Panting and rapid breathing symptoms should not be ignored because they may indicate a life-threatening illness.


In dogs, signs of pain, discomfort, or suffering include pacing and restlessness. There is a possible link between these signs and a disease called bloating, in which the abdomen arches. To put it simply, bloat is more common in large or deep-chested dogs.

Loss of Consciousness

If your dog loses strength and collapses to the ground, it has had an acute collapse. Consciousness can be lost in some dogs that suddenly fall. Syncope, or "passing out," is a common term for moments of temporary loss of consciousness. 

However, while some canines appear to have fully recovered within minutes of collapsing, others remain in this state until they are assisted. Any cause of collapse or fainting is significant and requires immediate attention. 


In summary, any noticeable shift in your dog's health or demeanor should prompt a trip to the doctor, as it may indicate an underlying medical issue. You can't put a price on your dog's health and happiness, so take him to the vet for the care he needs. Regular checkups and immunizations can help ward off or diagnose diseases early, so staying on top of them are crucial.

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