Amy Cook
Last Updated

Dogs are one of the most loyal companions you could have. They provide entertainment, love, and unconditional support. But sometimes they need our help because they might not be feeling well. Understanding the signs of illness in your dog can help you take care of them and avoid unnecessary vet trips.

Weird Signs That Your Dog is Ill

Doesn’t want to play with toys or people

One of the most significant indicators that a dog might be sick is an unwillingness to play with its toys or interact with humans. This can be a sign of emotional distress or physical pain. A dog experiencing emotional stress may have been anxious, fearful, or scared from a new and overwhelming experience. Dogs in need of a trigger release will often hide under furniture and refuse to leave, sleep unusually more than usual, and generally retreat from people and other dogs. This type of behaviour is natural for a dog trying to avoid any possible confrontation or trouble, but it should never last more than a few days without improvement.

Lying around all day without moving much

Your dog might be a little under the weather, showing signs of illness or a change of activity. The best way to help your pup feel better is by taking them to the vet – but until then, here are some other ways to help.

Loss of appetite

Your dog might not feel like eating, so be sure to check in with them. They might have little interest in their usual favourite foods or playtime. If your dog hasn’t been eating much for a few days in a row, it’s probably time to take them to the vet.

Loss of energy

Your dog might not feel like playing. If they used to be very active and playful but seem lethargic or uninterested in even their favourite toys, it’s time to take them to the vet.

Whining or whimpering

A whine can mean your pup needs attention – but if they’re whining almost constantly, it could be a sign of pain or discomfort. If they’re whimpering, that usually means they’re in pain and need attention immediately.

Barking or crying

Constant barking or crying can signal boredom – but if your dog is howling for no reason, it might mean they feel very ill. If they’re not barking at a stranger or the mailman, then it might be time to take them to the vet.

Skin irritation

If you notice your pup’s skin is red and irritated, it could be due to an allergy. In this case, taking them for a walk outside would only make the problem worse. The best thing you can do is take them to the vet.

Sudden vomiting or diarrhoea

Your dog might have a stomach bug, which can lead to sudden vomiting and diarrhoea. If this happens, your pup should see a vet as soon as possible because dehydration could be harmful to dogs. The vet will have treatment options for this, so you can get your dog the care they need.

Not using one or more legs

If you notice that your pup can’t use one of their back legs, take them to the vet immediately. They might have a spinal injury and be paralyzed, which only the vet can check for. If this is the case, they’ll be able to prescribe treatment options.

Coughing or sneezing

If your dog is coughing and sneezing, it could mean they have a cold. If this continues for 2-3 days, take them to the vet and get treatment options.

Hiding under furniture

Your dog might be feeling ill, but it also could mean they’re upset because something else is wrong. If your dog is hiding under the couch or other piece of furniture all day, they might be depressed or anxious about an issue like separation anxiety. It’s best to take them to the vet and ensure they don’t have any underlying illnesses before working on the depression.

Loss of balance

If your dog is off-balance or stumbling, it could be time to take them to the vet right away. It might be a neurological issue that requires treatment options, so it’s best to get everything checked out quickly. If you notice this while your dog is standing, it could mean they’re about to collapse – so always be aware of their balance while they’re up.

Excessive scratching or chewing

If your dog seems to have an itch that won’t go away, it could be time for a vet visit. If your pup’s scratching is causing them pain, it could be time to see the vet. The same goes for excessive chewing – if you notice your dog putting things in their mouth that they never used to or are constantly chewing on something, take them to the vet.

Frequent urination

If you notice your dog is frequently going to the bathroom, it could be a urinary issue. This could be a sign of an infection, which the vet will check and treat. If it’s not an infection, they might have a urinary stone or tumour. The vet can check for all these things so you can get treatment options quickly.

Shaking/trembling

If your dog is shaking or trembling, it’s time to take them to the vet. It could be because they’re cold – but if that’s not the case, it could be something else like a neurological issue or an injury that requires immediate attention.

Sudden weight loss or gain that doesn’t seem related to diet changes

One sign that your dog may be sick is sudden weight loss or gain that doesn’t seem related to diet changes. Some medical conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease cause dogs to lose weight accelerated, while others can cause weight gain. Even if your dog’s diet hasn’t changed, they might be experiencing a medical issue that is causing them to lose or gain weight. Another possible explanation for sudden changes in your dog’s body weight could be due to muscle loss, which can happen when an animal has cancer.

Not eating as usual for more than a day or two at a time

Dogs are known for their love of food. But just like humans, they can also go on a hunger strike, and it’s essential to pay attention to changes in your dog’s eating habits. If your furry friend isn’t eating as usual for more than a day or two at a time, then you should take them to the vet immediately to find out what might be causing this behaviour change. Possible causes include parasites, cancer, and other terminal illnesses.

Worrisome Signs That Your Dog is Ill

Disorientation or Dizziness

Dogs can be disoriented or dizzy for several reasons: it could be due to low blood sugar (for example, after not eating for a day), an ear infection (if something is blocking their ear canal), a stroke, poisoning (such as lead or antifreeze), or something wrong with their inner ears. If you notice that your dog appears dizzy and disoriented for no reason, be cautious of it.

Excess Panting or Breathing Difficulties

If your dog is panting much more frequently than usual, this could be a sign of illness, especially if they are also drooling excessively. Sometimes excess panting can be due to hot weather or exercise; however, it can also indicate heart disease, heatstroke, pulmonary disease, diabetes, or hypertension. If your dog is having trouble catching its breath for any reason, it’s essential to get them to help immediately.

Lethargy

If you notice that your dog looks pretty sluggish when they usually aren’t, this could be a sign of illness in dogs. Lethargy in dogs will often coincide with other symptoms of disease, including vomiting or diarrhoea. Dogs may also become lethargic if they are not feeling well because their muscles are weak and conserve energy.

Fever

Fever in dogs can happen for some reasons: it could be due to an underlying infection (like kennel cough), an autoimmune disease, or heatstroke. If your dog is panting excessively and has a fever, it’s essential to get them to help immediately.

Shaking or Shivering (Especially After Exercise)

If you notice that your dog is shaking uncontrollably – wildly if they are also disoriented or in distress – this could be due to low blood sugar. Sometimes this is caused by stress, but it can also be due to an underlying infection or medical condition such as diabetes.

Vomiting or Diarrhoea (Sometimes with Blood)

When dogs vomit or have bloody diarrhoea, you must see a vet immediately. If your dog has had diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, it’s essential to do this as soon as possible. Sometimes diarrhoea can be due to parasites or infection, but sometimes it’s because of something they’ve eaten. If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, you should immediately take them to the vet.

Breathing Problems, such as Laboured Breathing or Coughing Fits

Write content about how a dog’s breathing can be a sign of illness. A dog’s breathing can be quite an indication of its current state of health. So, if your dog starts to have laboured breathing or coughing fits, it could be a sign that they’re not feeling well.

Conclusion

The key to avoiding unnecessary vet trips is noticing when your dog starts to act differently. If it’s something small (and routine for your dog, like not wanting to play as much as usual), it might be nothing. But if they seem unusually lethargic or sickly, you should take them to the vet.

The next time your dog starts acting weird, don’t wait – call the vet! Make sure that you look into what could be going on, and remember to pay attention to the signs of illness in your dog.


Sources:

“9 Weird and Worrisome Signs Your Dog Might Be Ill” and can be found at: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/9-weird-and-worrisome-signs-your-dog-might-be#_
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
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http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/switch-to-non-commercial-license
John W. Pottenger, “The Weird and Worrisome Signs of Illness Your Dog Might be Showing,” The Veterinary Nurse (blog), published online September 8th, 2015 ( https://thevetrinarynurse.com/weird-and-worrisome-signs-of-illness-your-dog-might-be-showing/ )

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