Signs & Symptoms of a Sick Dog

December 21, 2009  
Filed under Dog Health Tips

Dogs are wonderful companions, most often being involved in a loyal, dedicated relationship with their owners. However, just like humans, dogs are also prone to many different health conditions. Because your dog doesn’t have the ability to let you know when they’re feeling ill, it’s important for you to keep an eye on their behavior to notice any changes. In addition to this, there are certain symptoms that can help you to determine if your dog is sick. Here are some of the most common symptoms of a sick dog, along with a few of their possible causes.


Lethargy is one of the most common symptoms seen in sick dogs. A sick dog will be feeling ill, so will not show as much enthusiasm for daily activities. Lethargy is usually characterized as a general change in your dog’s activity level. For example, a lethargic dog will also display a loss of interest in food, will spend much more time sleeping, and not be as excited about any activity that involves physical exercise. This may also be accompanied by weight loss, hair loss, or some of the other symptoms that can help you to determine when your dog is sick. Lethargy is usually caused by a virus, bacterial infection or other health condition. However, lethargy can also be caused by changes in diet, medication or lifestyle.


If your dog has diarrhea, chances are that they are suffering from a health condition that is causing them gastrointestinal distress. Diarrhea can be a sign of many different diseases, though is usually cause for concern. Some parasitic infections can cause diarrhea, which may or may not be accompanied by the appearance of parasites in your dog’s fecal matter.


Sometimes you may notice that your dog is losing their fur. This can either be present in patches, or be a general loss of hair all over your dog’s body. Hair loss can be caused by a number of health conditions, which aren’t always associated with the condition of your dog’s skin. Though some types of fungal infections on your dog’s skin can cause hair loss, this is usually present in patches. If your dog is experiencing generalized hair loss that is not localized to one area, this could be a symptom of a food allergy in your dog. However, there are many other health conditions that can cause hair loss, some of which require immediate medical treatment. If your dog is experiencing hair loss, it’s best to schedule a veterinary visit as soon as possible.


If your adult dog has a temperature that is over 103 degrees (97 degrees in puppies), this means that they are suffering from an increase in temperature. A fever in your dog can be indicative of many health conditions, though is most commonly associated with viral and bacterial infections. If your dog has a fever, chances are that you will need to schedule a visit to your veterinarian in order to have them tested for certain infections. After the cause of the infection is determined, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe antibiotics in order to help cure this condition.

What tel-tale signs do you notice when your dog is sick?  Please post a comment below and let us know!

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27 Responses to “Signs & Symptoms of a Sick Dog”
  1. Antonio says:

    Interesting study, Jess you know I’ve often disputed that previous study done at Purdue. I find it hard to believe that just b/c a dog food has a quality fat before the 5th ingredient this would cause bloat. I think the main issue that causes bloat would be portion sizes, meaning if it takes 8-10 cups of a crappy food to give a dog proper nutrition then there’s a higher chance for that dogs stomach to bloat, where as nutritionally adequate/dense food means you feed smaller portions, therefore dramatically decreasing the chance of a dog getting bloat. I think that’s the reason it’s more common in large breeds as oppose to toy/small breed dogs. But I know I’m not a certified small animal scientists to many will take that simply as it is.. Just My Opinion LOL. But you have to admit it does make good sound sense.

  2. Jess says:

    I agree, I always wondered about the fat thing and I never really believed it. It never really mattered to me because none of the foods I feed have the fat in the first 4. I also thought with products like California Natural their was only 3 ingredients to begin with so all the formula was before the fat.

    But I do agree with

    1. * Restrict vigorous exercise one hour before and two hours after meals.
    2. * Avoid raising the food bowl – place it at ground level
    3. • If your dog eats rapidly, find ways to try to reduce his speed of eating.
    4. * Feed two or more meals a day.
    5. * Feed no more than one cup per 33 pounds of body weight per meal when feeding two meals a day.

    Now these I am now gonna follow and for the most part I do.

    6. * Feed a variety of different food types regularly.
    7. * When feeding dry food, also include foods with sufficient amounts of meats and meat meals, for example: beef, lamb, poultry, and fish.
    8. * Feed a food with larger particles, “”and include larger pieces of meat to the diet.””
    9. It’s not on this study but I have read many times that mixing canned with Kibble is good. I just feed the can AFTER he eats his kibble and add his powdered supplements then.

    Now the biggest issue I have is getting Tony the inhaler to slow down. Sometimes he is unreal. And to tell ya the truth, I wish the wetlands were a little bigger kibble. Sometimes Tony just swallows them whole, he just loves that stuff.

  3. Antonio says:


    Here’s a little secret I learned years ago, if your dog inhales the dog food down quickly, try mixing a tablespoon or two of canned dog food in his kibble that will help wonders.

  4. Jess says:

    Make sure you don’t argue with the raw feeders here in the forums. Make sure you believe everything these “”idiots”” say, because they are gods, just ask them. Not one shred of evidence that they have ever produce, but they think they know more than vets and professional dog nutritionist’s. Yeah and the jerk even says I am a head case, what a loser!!!!

    You have been banned for the following reason:
    You’ve been warned several times before … You need help … get it

    Date the ban will be lifted: Never

  5. Antonio says:

    LOL, Jess you okay? Where did that post come from?

  6. Jess says:

    I got banned here in the forums for arguing with the raw feeders. They are the most perfect people you well ever meet.

  7. Jess says:

    They crossed the line when they say the owner of dog food project has no clue what she is talking about, they really have proved to me what they are all about. 16 years of college isn’t good enough for those people and they have none… I argued with one clown about oatmeal, she states and believes oatmeal is not good for humans. The sad part is people buy into this crap. It really gets old when every single thread about kibble gets HY-JACKED by the raw feeders stating how dumb we are to feed kibble. It really makes them upset when you ask for proof that raw feeding is better than a high grade kibble. Because their is “”none”” and when I ask for pictures of their dogs of course they can’t produce any. They call me names but that doesn’t matter. I am gonna make fewer and fewer visit’s here. Hopefully I can find a decent forum somewhere.

  8. Antonio says:

    Jess you sound a lot like me. I think feeding a good quality kibble is very effective. And not all dogs tolerate raw very well no matter how slowly you transition so I can understand your arguement. And I agree w/ you, I would dare anyone with a shepherd to compare pics w/ your dog. That kibble fed Tony is a dandy, so brush your shoulders off too comments like that and keep up the good fight man.

  9. Jess says:

    I just wish I could get my hands on that guy. Saying I have a mental issue because I do not agree with them (raw feeders) is stepping WAAAY over the line. I am a vet and I have fought for this country but I’ll tell ya what, I did not fight for people like this.

  10. Michelle says:

    Hey Jess,I’m no expert on the subject,but the idea of feeding raw meat always made me kinda nervous.Maybe the dogs digestive tract can handle bacteria,but what if my dog eats raw meat that is tainted with bacteria,and then gives my 6 year old a big kiss on the lips? Or licks his hands? NO THANKS, I’ll stick with cooking it. JMO

  11. Michelle says:

    Well written

  12. frankie says:

    on how sick doggies act, i had a experance with my abby she is 14 yrs old and got her from my sister, never fixed,so when i got her home with me one of my other dogs (jake) mounted her a couple of timesthis happend on thursday, well friday she was sluggish and moving real slow,saturday she stoppeds eating and sepperated from the rest of or pack(i own 5 rescues)THAT NITE I STAYED UP ALNITE WITH HE,, SHE LOOKED BAD .. WE MADE IT TO SUNDAY, SHE DIDNT WANT TO MOVE. SO I CALLED dr. NIGHTENGAIL BANDERA ANIMAL CLINIC AND OFF I WENT WITH SICK ABBY… THEY KEEPED HER 3 DAYS…I WAS A MESS,,, WELL COME TO FIND OUT ALL HER FEMAIL ORGANS WERE INFECTED AND SWOLEN WITH PUSS, DOC SAID 1-2 DAYS SHE COULD HAVE DIED IF I DIDNT BRING HER IN… AND SHE IS YHE HAPPEST CHOW NOW, SHE GOT A NEW LEASE ON LIFE, SHE IS A BIG PART OF MY PACK…. JUST REMBER IF YOUR PET ISOLATES DOESNT PLAY ,NO EXCITEMENT, COULD DEFENETLY BE SOMETHING TO CHECK INTO…please love all animals they need u just as we need them……… frank

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Should you have a concern regarding the diet of your dog, you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is the opinion of the author, and is presented solely for informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving professional veterinary care for your dog(s).
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