Is My Dog Sick? 5 Signs Your Dog Isn’t Healthy

Freelance writing sample

Do you ever worry about whether or not your dog is healthy? Worrying about your pet’s health is completely normal. After all, your dog can’t talk and tell you how they feel. The only way you have to know if your dog is healthy is by looking at their behavior and other signs of health – so it’s easy to scrutinize everything your dog does.

But knowing if everything is okay would be much easier if you knew what to look for. That way you wouldn’t get worried too easily. So what are the signs of illness in dogs? Knowing the difference between what’s normal for your dog and what could be a potential sign of illness is the first step to keeping your dog healthy.

Loss of Appetite

You probably know that loss of appetite can be a sign of illness. It’s a common symptom for both humans and animals.

But when should loss of appetite concern you? Your dog might not always feel hungry, so if they don’t start eating the moment you feed them, it’s not necessarily cause for concern.

To make matters worse, your dog might just be avoiding the food you’re feeding them as a matter of preference. Sometimes your dog might leave their kibble untouched for an entire day, only to eagerly gobble up a treat later.

You should know your dog well enough to know when to worry, but a good indication that your dog is sick is when they pass up on their favorite food or treat. Even if your dog is avoiding their regular food, they should still be willing to gladly devour a meatball or sausage.

If your dog shows any hesitation to eat a special treat they’d normally love, it’s best to make an appointment with your local vet.


To some extent, vomiting can be normal, especially if your dog has a tendency eat strange things, like grass or insects. In many cases, these things can cause a bout of nausea and vomiting, but it’s normally just a quick episode and shouldn’t affect your dog’s appetite later.

If the vomiting persists, however, it’s definitely a cause for concern. Frequent vomiting combined with other common warning signs, such as lack of appetite and lethargy are a definite indication that something is wrong and your dog needs veterinary help.

Gum Discoloration

When dogs are sick, the color of their gums often change. Pale pink, white, yellowish or purple are all signs of health problems, requiring a visit to the vet.

But while deep pink is the normal gum color for most dogs, there are some exceptions. Certain breeds like chow chows and Chinese Shar-pei dogs normally have black pigment on the inside of their mouths, making their natural gum color appear more purple or blue than other dog breeds.

Most dog owners don’t regularly check their dog’s gums, so don’t feel bad if you’re unsure what the normal gum color for your dog should look like.

Making a habit of regularly checking your dog’s gums can help you learn to distinguish between what’s normal. That way you’ll easily be able to pick up any kind of discoloration as soon as possible.

Dog Fever

Like many dog owners, you might believe that you can check your dog’s nose to see if they have a fever. A wet nose indicates that your dog is well, while a dry nose is an obvious sign of fever and illness.

Unfortunately, checking your dog’s nose isn’t an effective way to check their fever.

If you suspect your dog might be feeling ill, one of the best ways to check is by taking their temperature. But keep in mind, dog fevers are not the same as human fevers.

The normal temperature for dogs is higher than that of humans. The normal temperature for humans can range between 97.6 and 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit (or approximately 36.4 to 37 degrees Celsius). For dogs, normal temperatures can range between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (which is about 38 to 39.2 degrees Celsius).

If your dog’s temperature measures anywhere from 103 degrees or above, your dog has fever. Temperatures above 104 can be very dangerous and require immediate veterinary care.

Changes in Behavior

Not all health problems will cause fever, vomiting or loss of appetite. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on the general well-being of your dog by monitoring their behavior.

A lot of behavioral changes could indicate health problems.

Some changes in behavior are very obvious, such as when a normally friendly dog suddenly becomes agitated, grumpy and doesn’t want human interaction. Other changes are not so easy to identify, such as a dog urinating more frequently than normal.

Keeping a general eye on your dog’s behavior can help you notice problems sooner. Other areas you should regularly check include your dog’s coat and stool.

When checking your dog’s coat and skin, you should be looking for ticks, fleas, bumps on their skin, patches without hair or other abnormalities.

When checking your dog’s stool, look out for issues such as worms, diarrhea and constipation (in which case stools will look hard and dry, even when they’re fresh).

While learning about your dog’s health can help you detect health problems sooner, you should recognize that dogs have a natural instinct to hide their illness. This means that your dog might be experiencing a health problem and feel pain without you even knowing it.

This is why it’s important that your dog goes for regular veterinary checkups to ensure they’re still well. It’s also good to keep an eye on your pet’s dental health, as dental problems in dogs often go undetected, even if they cause your dog a lot of pain.

Close Menu