In the lifetime of a dog, it is not uncommon for a dog to develop an illness and because dogs cannot verbally express this, it is therefore very important for dog owners to know how to detect symptoms of dog illnesses.
There are quite a variety of symptoms and signs that dogs give off when they are unwell and they do so either consciously or unconsciously and this article will identify some of these dog illnesses symptoms.
Dog illnesses symptoms: behavioral changes
One of the very early signs that your may be dog is unwell can be seen in a change in behavior; just like when a human being is sick, the behavioral changes of a sick dog is easily noticeable. For different dogs, the behavioral changes will vary and the pet owner’s knowledge of the dog will be an important factor in identifying the change in behavior.
For instance, a dog that is usually very friendly and outgoing may suddenly become withdrawn and easily irritated and unwilling to participate in the usual daily activities that are associated with him; some dogs may even become aggressive. Every healthy dog loves to eat but if you start noticing that your dog is showing less and less interest in food then this may be sure red flag that your beloved canine friend may be unwell.
Some of the common behavioral changes that may be indicative of a sick dog are:
- Aggression: while aggression in dogs could be due to several possible causes, some possible causes of aggression in sick dogs are injury, illness, chronic pain. A dog that is experiencing serious muscle or joint pain such as hip dysplasia may tend to be more aggressive than usual or dogs that are normally not aggressive may suddenly become aggressive.
- Excessive barking: dogs are meant to bark and a dog may bark for different reason but when a dog that does not have a history of excessive barking begins to bark at all times then one need to unearth the reason behind it. Illness induced barking may be caused by pain, disease, distress as a result of separation e.g. from owner
Dog illnesses symptoms: observe changes in physical appearance
Once you have noticed some behavioral changes in your dog, you should take a closer physical look at him. Check his coat for signs of parasites like ticks or flea, observe his eyes, ears and belly for visible changes. Any noticeable physical changes will be very helpful in diagnosing the cause of the dog’s sickness and by extension the treatment required to restore his health.
- Changes in the dog’s body weight
- Runny nose
- Bad smells
- Swollen, red eyes
- Itchy ears – observe if you see your dog scratching its ears
- Balding spots
- Tumors, bumps etc
Some common dog illnesses symptoms beyond the physical appearance
Dog illnesses symptoms: A loss of appetite
While it is not exactly strange that a dog may sometimes show a lack of interest in food, if this unwillingness persist for about 2 days or more then it may be a sign of that the dog is sick.
Loss of appetite in dogs that is as a result of an illness could be an indication that the dog may be suffering from a serious illness such as kidney failure, cancer, liver or dental disease, pain or infection.
If your dog equally shows an unwillingness to drink water during this period, then you have a clearer sign that your dog may urgently need to visit the vet. However, unusually high intake of water and urination may suggest that the dog may be suffering from diabetes, kidney or liver disease.
Dog illnesses symptoms: Vomiting
A casual or one-off vomit is nothing unusual; perhaps she has eaten something that irritates her guts and then she throws up. However if the dog vomits multiple times in a day or over a few days then this may be a clear sign that the dog may be unwell.
Sometimes the cause of the vomit is because the dog may have swallowed an indigestible object like a little stick, a toy, sharp bone etc. This may also be the cause of blood in the vomit as the object may have cut the dog after swallowing it or while trying to vomit it.
The underlying causes of vomiting may be difficult to diagnose so you should pay closer attention to see if there are other symptoms that may be helpful in diagnosing the cause of the vomiting. Other symptoms to look at for in addition to blood in the vomit are weight loss, an increase or a drop in water intake and urination, lethargy and diarrhea.
Dog illnesses symptoms: Sneezing, difficulty in breathing and coughing
These symptoms may be an indication of respiratory related health problems; a coughing dog particularly when it is persistent may be showing signs of lungs or heart disease and if the coughing is accompanied by phlegm or mucus then the dog should be check for pneumonia.
Respiratory allergies are usually the cause of dog sneezing besides the occasional sneezing which is pretty fine. But if you observe that your dog tends to sneeze a lot at certain period of the year then it may be due to some seasonal allergy such as pollens or plant that the dog is reacting to. However if the sneezing is a one-off experience that seems to persist for more than 2 days then you should visit the vet for further examination of the dog.
There are many possible reasons why a dog may be experiencing difficulty in breathing such as:
- Virus or bacterial infection.
- A drop in the level of oxygen in the blood.
- Pain or reaction to a particular medication.
Dog illnesses symptoms: Diarrhea
Frequent passing of liquid stool is the most common sign of a dog suffering from diarrhea; other signs of diarrhea in dogs include difficulty in defecating, stool contains mucus or blood and flatulence.
There are a number of possible causes of diarrhea in dogs, most of which indicate some form of dog illnesses such as a viral or bacterial infection, food intolerance or a change in diet, allergy or parasites such as ringworms, reaction to a medication; more serious causes of diarrhea are liver, cancer or kidney disease.
The onset of diarrhea in dogs may be accompanied by dehydration, weight loss, a drop in appetite and fever.
Dog illnesses symptoms: Excessive sleeping
In most cases it is not unusual for a puppy to sleep a lot more than an older dog and this may be quite fine and the same applies to adult dogs which also tend to sleep more. In most other cases except when your dog is transiting into adulthood then you should be interested in finding out why your dog is suddenly spending more and more time in bed than usual.
If your dog is sleeping more than normal after you started giving her a new medication then you should visit the vet however there are other possible causes of excessive sleeping which may be indicative of dog illnesses symptoms.
When the thyroid gland of a dog becomes less active this will result in a drop in the dog’s metabolism which makes the dog become sluggish and ultimately result in the dog sleeping more than usual.
Dogs suffering from diabetes may also tend to sleep more than usual since diabetic dogs will usually pass out glucose in her urine which is meant to be use for energy.
Dog illnesses symptoms: Fever
As it is with humans, fever is also an indication that your dog is sick and it is not that difficult to detect if a dog has fever. Usually a dog with fever becomes less playful, the nose and the back of the ears feel warmer than normal.
A dog with fever simply means the dog is experiencing an increase in body temperature which is usually caused by inflammation, consumption of toxin or an infection. When it is as a result of an increase in external temperature or excessive activity, it is referred to as heat stroke or hyperthermia.
The most accurate way of determining if your dog has a fever is to use a rectal thermometer and once you can ascertain that your dog has fever you should visit the vet.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker
While the foregoing has listed some of the very common dog illnesses symptoms that are readily seen in most sick dogs, this section will identify dog illnesses symptoms by bodily parts. This dog illnesses symptoms checker makes it very easy to narrow down the symptom of a sick dog to a specific part(s) of the dog’s body.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: mouth
Common dog illnesses symptoms that are related to the mouth:
- Bleeding: a gum disease called gingivitis is a likely cause of bleeding from the mouth and it may also make the gum become red and swollen. Abnormal growth in the dog’s mouth (oral growth) could also cause bleeding from the mouth, while the growth may be harmless like a benign tumor it could just as well be a malignant cancerous growth. Look into your dog’s mouth and if you notice an unusual growth you should visit the vet for proper diagnoses.
- Excessive drooling: drooling can be pretty normal for dogs particularly for some breeds however when there is a sudden increase in drooling that is unusual of the dog then there is a likelihood of an underlying health problem that may be mouth related. Possible causes of excessive drooling include dental problem like tooth abscess, oral inflammation or infection, periodontal disease, oral tumor, oral injury like a wound in the mouth.
- Oral pain: pain that involves the entire mouth i.e. cheeks, the lips and tongue are usually caused by inflammation, infection, tumor and ulcer on the gums. When the dog’s teeth accumulate plaque and tartar it may result in gum inflammation (gingivitis) and periodontal disease; these are some of the most common causes of oral pain in dogs. Of course an abnormal cancerous growth will ultimately lead to oral pain.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: eyes
Common dog illnesses symptoms that are related to the eyes:
- Excessive tearing: abnormal tear production or poor tear drainage are the most common causes of tearing; over production of tears is the dog’s natural way of protecting the eyes from foreign materials that may irritate the eyes which is pretty normal but if it becomes chronic it may result in wetness around the eyes causing irritation. The same situation can occur when the small holes in the dog’s eye that drain tears away become blocked. Other possible causes of tearing include glaucoma or eye infection.
- Redness of the eyes: common causes of red eyes include inflamed eyelid, glaucoma, bleeding at the front or within the eyes and insufficient production of tears which may result in dry eyes.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: ears
Common dog illnesses symptoms that are related to the ears:
- Ear discharges: the most likely causes of ear discharges in dogs are ear infection and/or mites; this may be accompanied by pain which could be easily noticed when contact is made with the affected ear which may cause the dog to twitch in pain. Ear infection may result in reddish brown/yellowish discharges which may be caused by mites, excessive ear wax, allergies or moisture in the ears due to water getting into the ears from bathing or swimming.
- Ear odor: common causes of a dog’s ears giving off bad odor are yeast and bacterial infection. It is common in dog with pendulous ears and dogs with food allergies and as a result of water getting into the dog’s ears from bathing or swimming.
- Swollen ear: a swollen ear is a sign of a dog ear problem which are commonly caused by ear infection and ear mites and serious infestation could lead to the rupturing of the blood vessels inside the dog’s ear (hematomas).
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: head, neck and nose
Common dog illnesses symptoms that has to do with the dog’s head, neck and nose:
- Neck pain: dogs may develop neck pain as a result of muscle strain, injury, disk problems in the spine or a dislocation, swollen vein in the neck as a result of infection/fever or cancer in the soft tissues of the spine. Meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spine) may also result in stiffness and neck pain in dogs.
- Nose discharges: greenish, yellowish or smelly nasal discharges will require a vet’s attention. Common causes include nasal blockage, allergies such as spores and pollen, nose bleeding and awful nasal odor are indications of viral, fungal or bacterial infection, sticky yellowish discharges caused by distemper (serious viral disease) or nasal tumor.
- Head pressing: compulsive pressing of the head against a solid object like the wall for a period of time; it is a serious neurological condition that suggest that the nervous system may be damaged. Causes include head tumor, encephalitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain), nervous system infection (rabies, bacterial, parasites, fungal or viral infection), stroke, liver shunt or head trauma.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: back part
Common dog illnesses symptoms that has to do with the dog’s back
- Dog back pain: a number of things may be responsible for back pain in dogs such as spinal disc shift which occurs when there is a shift in the spinal disc that keeps the vertebrae from having bone to bone contact, genetics which is common in some breeds such as Pekingese, over exertion of the muscles of the back which may result in spasm (usually in older dogs), infection or inflammation of the meninges or cancerous growth in the soft tissues of the spine or nerve root.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: shoulders
Common dog illnesses symptoms that has to do with the dog’s shoulder
- Shoulder injury/lameness: excessive jumping and running can cause injury to the shoulder joint which may also result in lameness. Other causes of shoulder injury include trauma, excessive and continuous strain, fatigue and /or extreme exertion. Shoulder lameness can cause arthritis and pain.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: chest
Common dog illnesses symptoms that has to do with the dog’s chest
- Chest fluid: accumulation of chest fluid which is caused by the leakage of digestive fluid from the small intestine into the dog’s chest cavity. Common symptoms associated with chest fluid include rapid and/or irregular breathing, loss of weight, coughing, noisy lungs etc. Some causes of chest fluid include chest tumor, heart disease, blood clotting in the vein and heartworm disease.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: abdomen
Common dog illnesses symptoms that has to do with the dog’s abdomen
- Swollen stomach: if it is not as a result of over eating, swollen stomach is an emergency situation that can be life threatening caused by bloat/ gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). Bloat is a dangerous condition in which the stomach is filled with fluid, gas or food resulting in the expansion of the stomach which may then result in extra pressure on other organs. GDV occurs as a result of the rotation of the distended stomach, trapping gas in the stomach and cutting off blood supply to the stomach. Peritonitis is another cause of swollen stomach in dogs which is as a result of an intestinal rupture due to bone, tumor or ulcer.
Dog illnesses symptoms checker: hips
Common dog illnesses symptoms that has to do with the dog’s hips
- Hip dysplasia: is the result of poorly formed hip socket and a severe form of it can result in arthritis of the joint and lameness. Causes of hip dysplasia include genetics, environmental condition such as in dogs that neutered before full maturity, torn ligament at young age, nutrition, injury sustained or over exertion on hip joint at young age.
Dog illnesses symptoms are helpful indications that your dog may be unwell and you should swiftly take the appropriate steps necessary for the improvement of your dog’s health.
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