There are serious dog symptoms that should never be ignored.
A symptom is defined as “any problem that can indicate an underlying disease” and may be your first clue to the presence of a life-threatening problem in your dog. Here is a list of 21 symptoms that should never be ignored!
21 Dog Symptoms That Can’t Be Ignored
1. Pacing and Restlessness
In dogs, pacing and restlessness can be indicate pain, discomfort, or distress. These symptoms can be associated with a condition called bloat, in which the stomach twists. Bloat is life-threatening and most commonly occurs in large breed or deep-chested dogs.
2. Unproductive Retching
Dogs that attempt to vomit and are unable to bring anything up is another common symptom of “bloat.” You should call your veterinarian immediately.
3. Collapse or Fainting
Acute collapse is a sudden loss of strength causing your dog to fall and be unable to rise. Some dogs that suddenly collapse will actually lose consciousness. This is called fainting or syncope. Some dogs recover very quickly and look essentially normal just seconds to minutes after collapsing, whereas others stay in the collapsed state until helped. All the reasons for collapse or fainting are serious and should not be ignored. See your veterinarian immediately.
4. Not Eating or Loss of Appetite
Anorexia is a term used to describe the situation where an animal loses their appetite, does not want to eat, or is unable to eat. There are many causes of a “loss of appetite” and it is often the first indication of illness. Regardless of the cause, loss of appetite can have a serious impact on an animal’s health if it lasts 24 hours or more. Young animals less than 6 months of age are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite.
5. Losing Weight
Weight loss is a physical condition that results from a negative caloric balance. This usually occurs when the body uses and/or excretes essential nutrients faster than it can consume them. Essentially, more calories are being burned than are being taken in. Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss. There are several causes for this, some of which can be very serious.
6. Breathing Problems
Respiratory distress, often called dyspnea, is labored, difficult breathing or shortness of breath. This can occur at any time during the breathing process, during inspiration (breathing in) or expiration (breathing out). When your dog has trouble breathing, they may not be able to get enough oxygen to their tissues. Additionally, if they have heart failure, they may not be able to pump sufficient blood to their muscles and other tissues. Dyspnea is often associated with accumulation of fluid (edema) in the lungs or the chest cavity (pleural effusion). This fluid can lead to shortness of breath and coughing. This is a very serious symptom and should be evaluated immediately.
7. Red Eye
A “red eye” is a non-specific sign of inflammation or infection. It may be seen with several different diseases including those involving different parts of the eye, including the external eyelids, third eyelid, conjunctiva, cornea, and sclera. It may also occur with inflammation of the structures inside the eye, with glaucoma (high pressure within the eye), or with certain diseases of the orbit (eye socket). Either one or both eyes can become red, depending upon the cause of the problem. Some of the possible causes can be serious and ultimately cause blindness.
Jaundice, also referred to as icterus, describes the yellow color taken on by the tissues throughout the body due to elevated levels of bilirubin, a substance that comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. There are several causes for jaundice and regardless of the cause, jaundice is considered abnormal and serious in the dog.
9. Trouble Urinating
“Trouble urinating” can include straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, and evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region, or turning and looking at the area. There are several underlying causes. Some of the causes if left untreated can result in death in as little as 36 hours.
10. Urinating and Drinking Excessively
These signs are often early signs of disease including kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, thyroid gland problems, uterine infection (called pyometra), as well as other causes. Dogs normally take in about 20 to 40 milliliters per pound of body weight per day, or one to two cups per day for a normal sized dog. If you determine that your pet is drinking excessively, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
A fever is defined as an abnormally high body temperature resulting from internal controls. It is believed that fever is a method of fighting infection. The body resets the temperature control area of the brain to increase the body temperature – probably in response to invasion of foreign matter such as bacteria or viruses. The normal temperature in dogs is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your pet temperature is high, call your veterinarian.
A seizure or convulsion is a sudden excessive firing of nerves in the brain. The severity of the seizure can vary between a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to your dog falling on their side, barking, gnashing their teeth, urinating, defecating, and paddling their limbs. A seizure can last from seconds to minutes. Seizures are symptoms of a neurological disorder – they are not in themselves a disease. They can be caused by several disorders including epilepsy, toxins or tumors.
13. Bruising and Bleeding
Abnormal bruising and bleeding arises with disorders of hemostasis (clotting). Clotting abnormalities are also called coagulopathies, because they reflect the inability of the blood to coagulate or clot. Bleeding from clotting disturbances may occur in the skin, the mucous membranes, and various internal organs, tissues, and body cavities. The impact of such bleeding on the affected individual may be mild or severe depending on the degree of blood loss.
Coughing is a common protective reflex that clears secretions or foreign matter from the throat, voice box, and/or airways, and protects the lungs against aspiration. It affects the respiratory system by hindering the ability to breathe properly. Common causes include obstruction in the windpipe, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, lung tumors, kennel cough, and heart failure. Some of the causes are life threatening and all pets with a cough should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
15. Bloated or Distended Abdomen
Abdominal distension is an abnormal enlargement of the abdominal cavity. This term is usually reserved for abdominal enlargement due to causes other than simple obesity. One cause of abdominal distension is abnormal fluid accumulation. Another cause of abdominal distension is enlargement of any abdominal organ including the liver, kidneys, or spleen. Distension of the stomach with air (“bloating“) or fluid or distension of the uterus (womb) during pregnancy, can result in abdominal distension. Pressure from the abdomen pushing into the chest may make breathing more difficult and pressure within the abdomen may decrease the appetite. NOTE: It is important to recognize abdominal distension because it can be a symptom of potentially life-threatening diseases and should be investigated thoroughly.
16. Bloody Diarrhea
Blood in the feces can appear as “melena,” a black and tarry substance that suggests digested blood in the feces. Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool (hematochezia). Bleeding into the colon or rectum appears as fresh blood in the stool. Bloody diarrhea should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
17. Bloody Urine
Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells in the urine. It may be gross (visible to the naked eye) or microscopic. There are several possible causes including bacterial infections, cancer, and stones in the urinary tract.
18. Bite Wounds
Bite wounds are often the result of two animals engaging in a fight or aggressive play. Bite wounds, which may only appear as a small puncture wound in the skin, can actually be quite extensive. Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage. Some wounds may appear deceptively minor, but have the potential to be life threatening, depending on the area of the body bitten. All bite wounds should receive veterinary attention.
19. Bloody Vomit
Vomiting blood can be fresh blood, which is bright red, or partially digested blood, which has the appearance of brown coffee grounds. There are a variety of causes for vomiting blood and the effects on the animal are also variable. Some are subtle and minor ailments, while others are severe or life threatening.
20. Lethargy or Weakness
Lethargy is a state of drowsiness, inactivity, or indifference in which there are delayed responses to external stimuli such as auditory (sound), visual (sight), or tactile (touch) stimuli. Lethargy is a nonspecific sign associated with many possible underlying systemic disorders. It may have little to no impact on the affected individual; however, its presence may represent severe or life-threatening illness. Lethargy of more than a day’s duration should not be ignored, and should be addressed, especially if it persists.
21. Pale Gums
Pale gums or mucous membranes can indicate blood loss or “shock.” The possible causes for either blood loss or shock are life-threatening and thus should be evaluated immediately.
We hope this gives you more information on the most common and important symptoms in dogs.
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How do I know if something is seriously wrong with my dog? ›
Sleeping more than normal, or other behavior or attitude changes. Coughing, sneezing, excessive panting, or labored breathing. Dry or itchy skin, sores, lumps, or shaking of the head. Frequent digestive upsets or change in bowel movements.How do I know if my dog is in pain? ›
What are the typical signs of pain in dogs? General behaviour: Shaking, flattened ears, low posture, aggression, grumpy temperament, panting or crying, excessive licking or scratching a specific area, reluctant to play, interact or exercise, lameness (limping), stiffness after rest, loss of appetite.How do you know if your dog is crying for help? ›
Wincing, Whining or Crying
All three of these actions indicate an injury or some kind of pain your dog is experiencing. If you start to pet your dog and they shy away from your hand or whine, you know there is something wrong. Your pet might need x-rays and a full examination to determine the cause.