Guidelines for Dog Symptom Investigation

Dog symptom investigation can be a tricky business considering the many illnesses and diseases that can affect your dog. Dog symptoms are conditions that indicate an underlying cause; mild, moderate or severe. As the dog's owner, you will likely notice when your dog experiences symptoms. There are guidelines for dog symptom investigation that can give you an overview of the possible causes for those symptoms. Keep in mind, these are guidelines and in no way substitute for a thorough examination.

Stay Calm and Assess the Situation

Whenever you discover a new dog symptom, it's easy to become upset, scared or worried. It is important, for the benefit of both you and your dog, to remain calm. Upon noticing a new dog symptom, first think back over the last few days. Have there been any recent changes? Could your dog have been exposed to something infectious or toxic? Have you been noticing any other signs of possible illness?

Determine the Severity

Often, dogs will experience acute symptoms which clear themselves up quickly. Many environmental factors can cause your dog's body to attempt to heal itself, and in many cases this is successful. Basically, if symptoms persist for longer than a few days, or if blood, pus or other unusual substances present themselves, there might be cause for treatment. Research dog symptoms thoroughly before attempting over-the-counter remedies. A few common dog symptoms are listed below.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite in dogs can signal many things. A simple change in surroundings can cause your dog to avoid meals. More alarming causes for loss of appetite might signify serious problems with the digestive system or other organs. If your dog stops eating for longer than 24 hours, or begins to drop weight suddenly, these may be signals of something more serious.

Excessive Scratching

When your dog begins to scratch or bite obsessively at a particular area, or over the entire body, a flea infestation would probably be the first thing to look for. If no sign of fleas is found, your dog could be experiencing symptoms of parasitic infection, fungus, mites or dermatitis. Check for toxic chemicals in your pets area. If left untreated, conditions that lead to symptoms of scratching can result in severe illness.

Runny Eyes: Eye Discharge

If your dog is experiencing symptoms resulting in runny eyes, with a discharge that is clear, cloudy or gray, possible inflammation of the tear ducts may be occurring. This can be caused by conjunctivitis, dry eyes, glaucoma or corneal ulcers. Any of several tests may be performed to determine the cause.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Sudden symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea are generally caused by ingestion of a disagreeable substance. This is a common way for your dog's system to eject the substance effectively. If these symptoms persist for over a week, or other symptoms arise such as loss of appetite, dehydration or the presence of blood, the underlying condition could be something more serious.


Scooting, rubbing or dragging of the behind across the floor has a couple of common causes. Tapeworms are a possibility, but also be aware that anal glands can become impacted or abscessed. Any condition that causes itching under the tail area will result in scooting.