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How Healthy is Your Dog?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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  • Weight loss – Losing weight is another common sign of disease or illness. Sometimes it is difficult to notice weight loss, especially in longhaired dogs or dogs that you see every day and may not notice subtle changes. If your dog feels bonier, lighter, or you can easily feel the ribs, this could be a problem.

  • Increased water consumption – Drinking more is often associated with a few diseases including kidney disease and diabetes mellitus. If you notice your dog is showing these symptoms, see your veterinarian.

  • Not grooming – Dogs that don't feel well don't groom or you just notice a dull lusterless coat. If your dogs coat changes, have him or her evaluated by your veterinarian.

  • Bad breath – Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can result from dental disease as well as other metabolic disorders.

  • Sleeping more – Sleeping more can also be associated with lethargy. Dogs sleep an average of 13 to 16 hours each day depending on the age and personality of the individual dog. If you notice your dog is sleeping a lot more than he used to, don't assume it is just age. Make sure that is not an underlying disease or illness.

  • Less involved in social interaction with you or your other dogs
    dogs that don't feel well don't tend to play or be as social with you or your other dogs.

  • Drooling – drooling or hypersalivation can be associated with oral or dental disease and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

  • Vomiting - Gagging or vomiting is a very common sign of illness. Some dogs will vomit occasionally. Vomiting that occurs once a week or less frequently is generally not considered a big problem if your dog is otherwise healthy, maintaining his weight and having normal bowel movements. However, if your dog is vomiting on a regular basis or is loosing weight, this could be an indication of a serious problem.

  • Difficulty breathing – Trouble breathing is a very severe sign of illness. It is often caused by underlying heart or lung disorders. Difficulty breathing can be noted as increased respiratory rate or effort, open mouth breathing, or a posture in which the arms are slightly abducted and your dog neck is extended. This is a life-threatening emergency.

  • Diarrhea – Loose stools can be caused by dietary reasons, allergies and other gastrointestinal diseases.

  • Coughing – Coughing is serious symptom and should be evaluated when it occurs.

  • Bloody urine – This can be a sign of urinary tract disease or infection in dogs. It should be evaluated immediately. It can also be associated with frequent attempts to urinate as well.


    Watch your dog carefully for any sign of illness. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, please contact your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic as soon as possible.


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