Signs of Canine Illness: An Owner's Primer

Canine illness can be hard to recognize, since our dog's can't tell us how they're feeling. As the owner, you're in a unique position to take notice when something is wrong with your dog. Here are some tips to help you recognize the signs of canine illness.

Know What a Healthy Dog Looks Like

A healthy dog has a temperature of between 101 and 102 degress Fahrenheit. He has a respiratory rate of fifteen to twenty breaths per minute, and a heart rate of eighty to one hundred and twenty beats per minute.

A healthy dog's gums and mucus membranes are pink and moist. Their ears and skin smell clean. Their skin is pliant, and their eyes are clear and alert. Most of all, a healthy dog behaves normally; as his owner, you're the one and only expert on what constitutes normal behavior for your dog.

Changes in Personality or Behavior

One of the first signs of illness that your dog may exhibit is a change in personality and behavior, so pay attention when your dog's behavior suddenly changes. Does he seem depressed or lethargic? Does he sleep more often? Has his appetite changed, is he drinking more or less water, is he defecating or urinatinating more often? These can all be among the first signs of canine illness.

Some canine illnesses can change your dog's personality. Your dog may seem nervous or irritable. He may appear disoriented or confused. Some diseases can cause sensitivity to lights and noise; others cause hallucinations, which may appear to change your dog's personality.

Physical Symptoms

Canine illness will usually manifest itself by physical symptoms as well. Symptoms of canine illness can run the gamut from vomiting and diarrhea to runny nose, to fever, to seizures and death.

Sometimes, however, symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and constipation are caused by factors other than illness. Constipation, for instance, happens to all dogs occasionally and can be treated at home by adding fiber to your dog's diet for a few days. Vomiting and diarrhea can occur if your dog eats something that doesn't agree with him, becomes overexcited, or eats too much or too fast.

How can you tell when physical symptoms are serious? If your dog is running a fever, this is usually a sign of serious canine illness. Also, if symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea do not clear up within 12 to 24 hours, see your vet.