Check-ups with your veterinarian are the best way to spot any signs of a possible illness as soon as possible. This is especially important for older dogs, who should be checked regularly every three to six months.
Here are some of the symptoms of problems in your dog to look out for. Note that this list is not exhaustive and you should always speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.
General Lethargy, Depression, General Lethargy, Depression, Listlessness, and More Sleep
If your dog is not his normal, enthusiastic, and active self, then consider whether something more serious than drowsiness could be the cause. In general, a common sign of dog disease is feeling uncomfortable or looking much more sluggish than normal (with no particular discomfort) and you need to check-in with your veterinarian.
Loss of appetite or complete refusal to eat
There are many completely harmless reasons your dog may not want to eat as much as usual – hot weather, for example – but it can also indicate an underlying problem. It is especially important to consult your veterinarian if your older dog is eating less than usual, or if his decreased appetite is accompanied by lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or other signs of illness.
Increase in appetite
Most dogs enjoy their food and happily eat whatever is offered to them. However, a noticeable increase in appetite can also indicate conditions in dogs such as diabetes or other hormonal problems. So speak to your veterinarian if your dog chews more than usual.
If your dog begins to lose weight for some unknown reason, it may indicate an underlying condition and should be evaluated by a veterinarian. This is especially important if your dog has other symptoms, such as a decrease or increase in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.
Vomiting after eating contaminated food or searching the garbage can is not uncommon. However, if the disease persists, your dog is vomiting blood, has trouble swallowing, or is choking or choking, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian. Vomiting can be a sign of many different diseases, including bowel problems, kidney disease, and liver disease. If you see that your dog is sick and is accompanied by lethargy, depression, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, it may indicate an underlying problem. So speak to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Occasional diarrhea is usually not a cause for concern and can simply be due to eating something uncomfortable in the garden, but if it persists or if the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, or weight loss, or from your dog poop is black in color or contains fresh blood or mucus. Then visit your veterinarian. Take a stool sample with you if you can.
Progressive weight gain
Your dog can have mobility problems if he gains too much weight. So watch out for signs of creeping obesity. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs. Check your dog’s body condition using our chart if you’re not sure, and then contact your veterinarian for advice on how to treat the problem. If your dog’s tummy, in particular, appears to have enlarged, it may simply be due to gas, but it may also indicate fluid in the abdomen or hormonal issues. However, if the swelling persists quickly, contact your veterinarian right away as this is a veterinary emergency and can potentially be fatal.
Excessive thirst or urination
Drinking more than usual or urinating more often can sometimes indicate diabetes or kidney problems. If you find that the water bowl is frequently empty and your dog urinates for long periods or urinates more than normal, contact your veterinarian.
Your dog should never make an effort to urinate. If they crouch or flex their leg without producing urine, producing a small amount, or the urine is bloody, you should contact your veterinarian.
Difficulty having a bowel movement
As with urination problems, if you find that your dog is straining to pass poop in a posture or if he has not passed poop for several days, organize an exam. You should also keep an eye on your dog’s stool for changes in color or texture.
Your dog can’t tell you if something is wrong, but you can get clues about their behavior. If they withdraw and are less interactive with family, this could indicate a problem. If your normally friendly dog refuses to be picked up or if he’s showing any other strange behavior (such as twitching or aggression), see your veterinarian. Treat seizures as a veterinary emergency. So, see your veterinarian as soon as possible (contact your veterinarian for advice on the best method of transport for a seizure dog). If strange behavior occurs intermittently, it may be helpful to film an episode to show your veterinarian.
Skin discomfort – hair loss, itching, and redness
Your dog’s skin condition is a good indicator of his or her health and should be smooth, pink, or black (depending on pigmentation) with smooth, shiny hair. If your dog is scratching, pulling, or having scabs, redness, or inflammation excessively, something may be wrong. A poor coat with scabs or dullness can also indicate an underlying condition in your dog. Any brownish discharge or redness of the ears or head shaking should also be examined by your veterinarian.
Red or swollen gums
Red or swollen gums and plaque (brown material) on your teeth, especially if you have bad breath, are signs of oral disease. Affected dogs may also have decreased appetite, weight loss, eat only on one side of their mouth or drop food while eating. This can be very painful and lead to tooth loss. Ask your veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms.
Fast or difficult breathing and coughing
If you notice your dog gasping excessively, gasping for air, breathing very quickly, coughing, or making noises while breathing, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. These symptoms could indicate a chest problem or be symptoms of a common condition like kennel cough.
Runny eyes or nose
Sneezing, runny eyes, and a runny nose can all indicate a condition that affects your dog’s upper respiratory tract. Likewise, persistent mucus-like discharge, bleeding from the nose, or a change in the color of the nasal plan (the usually black area at the end of the nose) can indicate a health problem. If your dog’s eyes look sore or blink excessively with redness around the eyes, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Lameness / stiffness
Although slight stiffness can be a natural part of aging, if your dog is limping, slowly getting up or lying down, or having trouble climbing stairs, you should consult your veterinarian. These symptoms could suggest you have a bone or joint problem that your veterinarian can confirm.
If you notice any other signs of illness in your dog or if you have any health concerns, contact your veterinarian for further advice.