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10 Signs Your Dog May Be Sick

Holistic pet care therapies

Your pets can’t tell you when they are sick or hurting. Here are some signs and symptoms that your dog may be sick.  By watching for these signs and symptoms you can help keep your dogs as healthy as possible.

Excessive drinking or Urination

Excess drinking is frequently a sign that your dog is sick and losing water at an unhealthy rate. Polydipsia, or extreme thirst can be an early indicator of several serious illnesses. In addition to excessive thirst, your dog may also experience an increased appetite, hair loss along the back, and increased panting. Contact your vet for a diagnosis if you notice any combination of these symptoms.

Bad Breath or Drooling

Bad breath is a result of bacteria in your dog’s mouth, lungs or gut. Persistent bad breath can indicate that your dog needs dental care of that something is wrong with the gastrointestinal tract, liver or Kidneys. This is something to investigate with your vet.

Cloudy eyes or discoloration

Red eyes in dogs often indicate a negative reaction or allergy. Red eyes may also be the result of a tear or injury to the eyelid or tissue. If your dog has cloudy or bluish-gray eyes it can be a sign of cataracts or nuclear sclerosis, a normal change in aging eyes.


Many dogs can’t vocalize their pain until someone tries to touch them. If your sweet pup suddenly growls when people approach, he may be protecting a painful body part or injury. Seek veterinary care if your dog develops a sudden grumpy growling disposition.


Frequent coughing in dogs can be an early sign of lung disease, heartworms, or other heart diseases. A hacking cough is a common symptom of kennel cough. As the name suggests, kennel cough is most often contracted from other dogs in crowded areas like dog parks and daycare facilities.

For most dogs, symptoms of kennel cough typically go away within two weeks. Puppies with kennel cough, however, may be at risk of contracting pneumonia. Furthermore, kennel cough and other respiratory problems are often more severe for dog breeds with flat faces, such as boxers, bulldogs, and Boston terriers.

Appetite change

When your dog won’t eat it is called anorexia. This is a complete loss of appetite in dogs. Even though most dogs can go a few days with out eating, it is better to address the problem as early as possible. This can be a sign of cancer, infections, pain, liver problems and kidney failure.

Dry, itchy skin

Dry and itchy skin is often a sign of allergies to a food in their diet. Dry skin may also indicate a flea allergy or atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis can affect dogs of any age and is often accompanied by recurring ear infections.

Sores or skin ulcers

Sores or skin ulcers can be a sign of a food allergy or other nutritional issues. Severe and widespread sores may be the result of a fungal or bacterial infection, autoimmune disorder, congenital disorders, and parasites. If the top layer of your dog’s skin has been compromised, it may result in skin lesions and ulcers that affect the deeper layers.

Hair loss

The most frequent cause of hair loss are pesky ticks and fleas, but it could also be a sign of a more serious illness. Like dry skin, hair loss can indicate food allergies, and is often accompanied by redness and hot spots. Hair loss in dogs may also be a sign of a hormone imbalance like thyroid disorders, pituitary dwarfism, and adrenal gland deficiency.

Stiffness or arthritis

If your dog has difficulty when walking or getting up and down, it may be an early sign of arthritis, disc disease, ruptured ligaments, or hip dysplasia, which causes the hip joint to develop abnormally.

Though arthritis and stiffness are often signs of aging, there are many tools and practices to improve your dog’s quality of life in their golden years. If you notice stiffness as a sign that your dog is sick, contact your vet to discuss options to preserve their mobility for as long as possible.

Help keep your dogs as healthy as possible. Remember, your dog can’t describe their symptoms to you. By being aware of the signs and symptoms of diseases in dogs, you can help reduce the risk of being affected by them. If your 4-legged friend shows symptoms of being ill, please contact your veterinarian immediately.