Untangling Dog Health Symptoms Common to Many Illnesses

The same dog health symptoms can signal many different conditions and diseases, making it difficult to untangle exactly what might be making your dog ill. When your dog becomes sick, you will notice various psychological or physical changes. As early as possible, observe and record details of the onset and progression of symptoms to be reported to your vet.

Here are some common symptoms and the diseases or conditions they may signal:

  • Abdominal distention, which can indicate pregnancy, obesity, gas, "bloat" (twisting of the stomach), urinary tract obstruction, swelling from infection, Cushing's disease and growth or tumor of internal organs
  • Abnormal appetite, which can indicate Cushing's disease, diabetes, pancreatic insufficiency, oral growth or tumor, obstruction in teeth or roof of mouth
  • Bowel straining, which can indicate colitis, digestive tract obstruction, hernia, anal sac abscess
  • Dental inflammation or pain, which can indicate abscesses, tumor, infected teeth, nerve dysfunction, kidney dysfunction, jaw osteopathy
  • Diarrhea, which can indicate enteritis, overeating, intestinal parasites, viral infection, bacterial infection, fungal infection, colitis, rectal or colon tumor, Addison's disease, parvovirus, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic insufficiency, intestinal obstruction, intestinal lymphatic disease
  • Ear problems, which can indicate infection, ear mite infestation, hematoma, fly bites or allergic reactions
  • Eye problems, which can indicate conjunctivitis, dry eye (lack of tears), vision loss, corneal ulcer, allergic reactions, abscess or tumor behind the eyes, edema of the cornea, cataracts, brain tumor
  • Fever, which can indicate infection anywhere in the body
  • Gagging, which can indicate kennel cough, plant ingestion, collapsed trachea, laryngeal paralysis, foreign body in throat, abscess
  • Inco-ordination, which can indicate ear infection, spinal tumor or trauma, head trauma, poisoning, canine vestibular syndrome, brain tumor
  • Lameness, which can indicate Lyme disease, arthritis, inflamed muscles, cervical lesions, bone tumor, injured toe or toenail, hip dysplasia, arthritis, torn ligaments, necrosis of femoral head
  • Lethargy or depression, which can indicate heart failure, pneumonia, lung cancer or anorexia
  • Mouth problems (changes in the color of mucous membrane), which can indicate bacterial infection, heart failure, liver disease, pancreatic disease, anemia, shock, poisoning, dehydration, parasitic infestation
  • Rectal itching, which can indicate tumors, hernia, tapeworms, anal sac infection or impaction, compulsive behavior
  • Respiratory difficulties, which can indicate heart failure, obstruction, pneumonia, anemia, shock, fluid build-up in the lungs, collapsed lung, pleurisy, allergic reactions, kennel cough, chronic bronchitis
  • Skin and coat disorders, which can indicate hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, demodectic mange, allergic reactions, cysts, tumors, sebaceous cysts, lymphoma, bacterial infections, eczema, clotting defects, poisoning, dermatitis from flea, tick or mite bites
  • Seizures, which can indicate epilepsy, exposure to toxins or tumors
  • Smelly or bloody nasal discharge, which can indicate tumors, clotting disorders, lupus, throat obstruction, allergic reactions, respiratory infections
  • Thirst, which can indicate diabetes, Cushing's syndrome, liver disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection, urinary tract obstruction, poisoning, hormonal deficiency
  • Vomiting, which can indicate parasitic infestation, intestinal obstruction, liver disease, kidney disease, bacterial or viral gastroenteritis, gastric dilation, gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach or
  • intestinal tumors, food allergic reaction