6 Signs Your Dog is Sick

Signs Your Dog or Puppy is Sick

Your dog can’t speak up and let you know when they’re not feeling well, but these signs can help you tell if your dog is sick.

Behavior Changes

Is your typically energetic dog reluctant to go for a walk or play their favorite game with you? Is your happy pup suddenly acting irritable and agitated? Or maybe your independent pooch has become clingy and fearful? Shifts in mood or behavior like these can indicate that something’s going on for your dog, such as anxiety or illness.


The way your dog looks can provide clues that something isn’t right.

Lumps Under the Skin

Your dog’s skin should also not have any lumps. But if you do find a lump, there’s no need to panic right away. Dogs get lumps for all sorts of reasons, including ingrown hairs and cysts. It doesn’t necessarily mean your dog has cancer. However, it is a good idea to have new lumps checked out promptly. The majority of dogs with cancerous lumps do well when the mass is removed early in the disease process.

vomiting and diarrhea in dogs _ Husky resting on the floor

Vomiting or Diarrhea

Vomiting or diarrhea can be caused by all kinds of illnesses, such as viral infections, intestinal parasites or gastroenteritis, which is one of the most common dog diseases. It can also happen if your dog eats harmful food, noshes on a toxic plant, or ingests something poisonous, like human medication, insecticide, or antifreeze.

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If your dog has a minor bout of vomiting or diarrhea without other symptoms, it may simply pass without needing a trip to the veterinarian. If it is ongoing, there is blood present or your dog is having other health issues, you should seek veterinary care. Vomiting and diarrhea can also cause dehydration, which may require medical treatment.

Potty Problems

If you notice your dog is peeing more often than usual or straining to pee, something could be up. It could be the sign of ailments such as kidney disease, diabetes, a urinary blockage, or a urinary tract infection.

It could also be the result of stress caused by things like separation anxiety or a lifestyle change, such as a move or a new baby in the home. Dogs who are sick or anxious may also suddenly start having accidents even though they are house trained.

breathing issues in sick dogs _ tired dog resting atop a stuff animal

Breathing Issues

Wheezing and coughing can both be signs of an illness, such as a cold or canine influenza (yes, dogs can get the flu!). In the case of a cold or flu, your dog will likely have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, or redness around the eyes.

Coughing that sounds like a goose honking can indicate tracheal collapse, which is prevalent in small breeds, like Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, and Pugs. If you suspect your dog is experiencing tracheal collapse, you should contact your veterinarian. Cough suppressants and medications that help open up the airways can be beneficial, so too could using a harness versus a collar to walk them.

Have a cat in the house too? Find out the 5 signs your cat might be sick.


Like us, dogs can come down with a fever when they’re sick. Signs of a fever can include a warm and dry nose, red eyes, lack of energy, warm ears, and shivering. However, the only sure way to tell if your dog has a fever is to take their temperature.

Keep in mind that a dog’s normal temperature is warmer than humans. While our body temperature is typically around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a dog’s healthy temperature is around 101 to 102.5 degrees. If your dog’s temperature is over 103 degrees or they have other symptoms, you should consult with your veterinarian.

tips for keeping your dog healthy _ golden retriever resting on a bed with a tennis ball

Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy

While there’s no way to ensure your dog won’t ever get sick, there are things you can do to help keep them healthy.

And of course, you should spend plenty of quality time with your dog! A happy pup can be a healthier pup. Plus, you’ll be more in tune with what’s going on for your dog so you can notice any issues sooner.

If your dog does get sick, pet insurance can help you manage the costs of care. To see the coverage options and prices for your dog, get a quote now.


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