How to Know if My Dog Is Ill

Signs that Your Dog is Sick

Since my dog can’t tell me what’s wrong, one of the most important things I ever did as a pet owner was to learn how to know if my dog is ill. If not properly treated, a dog’s illness can rapidly become worse (dehydration and hypoglycemia can set in within a day). That’s why it’s imperative to know what signs to look for. And remember, dogs will often try to hide their illnesses from you.

Warning Signs

When checking to see if your dog is ill, look for any of the following warning signs. If one or more symptoms are present, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

  • Difficulty breathing – This could indicate anything from a heat stroke to cancer or lung problems.
  • Persistent cough – A possible symptom of lung problems or cancer. Make an appointment to see your vet.
  • Difficulty urinating – This could be a sign of a kidney disorder. You should also keep an eye on your dog’s water consumption.
  • Bloody urine – Contact your vet.
  • Trouble walking – Call your vet.
  • Vomiting – Contact your vet if this lasts more than a day.
  • Diarrhea – This shouldn’t last more than a few days normally. Call the vet if you see blood or a black, tarry appearance.
  • Seizures – Contact your vet immediately.
  • Loss of appetite – Monitor this. If it doesn’t clear up within a few days, you should speak with your veterinarian.
  • Disorientation – Make an appointment with your vet.
  • Lethargy – An active dog who suddenly starts sleeping all day may have a problem which needs to be checked by your vet.
  • Weakness – Is your dog elderly? If not, there’s probably something wrong.
  • Sudden weight loss – Don’t hesitate to speak to a medical professional.
  • Pale mucous membranes – Keep an eye on this condition and contact your vet if it worsens.
  • Retching without anything coming up – If this persists for more than a few days, have it checked out.

Take Their Temperature

A dog’s temperature should be between 100.5 and 102.5. Take your dog’s temperature rectally. If it falls outside the range previously mentioned, you should schedule an appointment with your vet.

Look For Signs of Pain

Is your dog whining a lot? If so, they may trying to let you know that they’re in pain. Drooling and panting are also other symptoms to look out for.

Heart Rate

A dog’s heart rate can also be an indication of a problem. A healthy dog should have a strong and steady heart rate. If the heartbeat is abnormally slow or fast, it’s time to call the veterinarian.

Adult dogs will have a rate of anywhere from 60 to 160 beats per minute (with toy breeds being as high as 180). Puppies have a heart rate of around 180 beats per minute. As a general rule of thumb, younger and smaller dogs tend to have faster heartbeats than older or larger dogs.

Gum Color

It’s a good idea to check the color of your dog’s gums when he’s healthy. Then you’ll have something to compare it against when checking to see if he’s sick. Gums are normally a shade of pink, so gums which appear blue, yellow, gray or white could mean your dog is ill.

If your dog has red gums, it could indicate inflammation of the gums or gum disease. Constant bad breath is also another warning sign to look for.

Check The Nose

A dog’s nose should be cold and wet. Of course, this can be affected by the weather outside. If your dog’s nose is dry, they might be dehydrated. This would be a good time to check their temperature.

Clear Urine Is Bad

Most dogs have cloudy, yellow urine. If the urine is clear, this could be an indication of a problem. If the urine has blood present, then you should contact your veterinarian at once.

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  1. hi, my girl dog age 4, was out walking this afternoon, only a short distance has gone very unsteady on her feet and turned to go back home, this afternoon she is very lifeless and when offered her dinner she stumbled towards me and returned to her bed and has flopped down with long, deep breathes, have you any idea what could be the problem, she has just finished a course of antibiotics as has had a high temp.

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