Making Sense of Dogs' Health Symptoms

Dogs may be affected by different illnesses and these will be signaled by different symptoms such as lack of appetite, weight loss, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or limping. As a dog owner it is always helpful to know how to make sense of dogs health symptoms.

Behavior Changes

Changes in the dog’s behavior may indicate a health problem. Depression and lethargy are signs that your dog is not feeling good; your dog may show no interest in activities and playing. The refusal to eat is also a symptom that your pet is ill; this symptom can point to a dental or gum disease or intestinal parasites; it may also signal a more severe illness such as a tumor.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting is a sign of a food intolerance, but it may also point to a heat stroke, poisoning, abdominal ulcers or tumors.

Diarrhea can be a symptom of intestinal parasites, food intolerance, poisoning or a gastrointestinal infection; if blood occurs in the feces the condition may be severe.

Excessive Scratching

Frequent scratching is a sign of stress, parasites, allergies or a skin infection (i.e. yeast overgrowth).

Sneezing and Coughing

If your pet is coughing, this may be due to an allergy to smoke, chemicals or other inhalants or a respiratory infection; it may also be a symptom of lung cancer.

Sneezing is a symptom of allergies or a respiratory infection; however, a dog with dental problems may also sneeze frequently.

Pot Bellied Appearance

Pot belied appearance especially in puppies can signal that the dog has parasites (i.e. ringworm or hookworms).

Inappropriate Urination

Inappropriate urination can mean that the dog has kidney problems or a urinary tract infection; additional symptoms such as increased thirst, urination in reduced amounts or blood in the urine.

Eye or Nose Discharges

Watery eyes may be a symptom of allergies, an eye infection or a common cold. If the eyes are red or inflamed, these may indicate conjunctivitis or allergies.

A runny nose is a symptom of allergies or a respiratory infection.


An elevated fever may be a symptom of a heat stroke, poisoning or an infection.

Limping and Moving Difficulties

If the dog has difficulty moving or is limping, this may signal a hip displacement, an injury or joint swelling or arthritis. The dog may also be less active and retract his painful limbs when touched.

Increased Thirst

If the dog drinks more water this may mean that he has diabetes, a poisoning or kidney disease. You should be able to tell if your dog drinks more water than usually, judging by the frequency of changing the water bowls.

Pale Gums

Pale gums can point to liver or kidney disease, poisoning, hypoglycemia or heart problems and the lack of oxygen in the vital organs.

Inflamed, red gums can be a symptom of gum disease or a dental abscess.

These symptoms alone are not enough for a clear diagnosis, so you shouldn’t start to administrate treatment; the dog must be consulted by a vet and the vet will perform several tests to establish the precise condition your dog is suffering from.