Sometimes when your dog is under the weather, the signs are crystal clear. Other times, the symptoms are subtle and can be overlooked. Here are some signals related to eating patterns, energy levels, physical and behavioral variations, and mood changes that could indicate your dog is ill.
It may not always be easy to tell when your dog is ill. Hiding illness is a dog’s survival instinct held over from the days before domestication: being sick meant being removed from the pack. Remember you are your dog’s pack leader, so dogs can be stoic when they’re not feeling well.
Changes in eating patterns
Dogs may occasionally experience a minor virus or digestive problem that will cause a day or two of waning appetite. A change in eating habits could otherwise be a sign of a serious problem. If the following behaviors persist or change dramatically in a short period of time, contact your veterinarian.
- Eating far less than usual, or seeming uninterested in eating altogether
- Exhibiting finicky eating habits when she normally eats heartily
- Suddenly demonstrating an insatiable appetite
- Vomiting after eating
Changes in energy levels
Just like their human pals, dogs’ energy levels increase or decrease daily depending on factors such as weather or activity. Contact your vet if your dog displays these characteristics over a period of several days:
- Sleeping more than usual
- Acting lethargic
- Seeming indifferent to activities he’d normally enjoy
- Acting restlessly or pacing
Other physical and behavioral symptoms
There are too many possible physical and behavioral indications to list, but there are telltale signs of sickness in your canine:
- Watery or sunken eyes
- Tripping or loss of balance
- Urinating in the house or other place where she’d normally not
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Ear discharge or odor
- Frequent and irregular bowel movements (diarrhea)
- Lack of bowel movements
- Panting throughout the day, especially when trying to go to sleep
- Drinking water excessively
A dog who is usually very outgoing but suddenly begins loafing in a corner of the house may be feeling down and out. Likewise, a dog who is normally friendly and gentle with children may show aggression when illness strikes.
If you suspect your dog is sick, call your veterinarian for an appointment. And remember: you know your dog better than anyone. If none of the above symptoms apply to your dog but your instincts tell you something isn’t right, have him checked out anyway. The resulting peace of mind will make everyone feel better!