They say dogs are man’s best friend. Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you when they’re feeling bad. That being said, anyone that has ever had a dog for a pet can tell you that their body language says a lot. In the early stages of an illness, your dog will likely try to hide how they are feeling. However, since you know your dog, you may be able to pick up on subtle changes in their demeanor.

These subtle changes indicate that there’s something going on and the key to helping them is to have the problem treated as soon as possible. If you are in or near Traveler’s Rest, SC and your dog isn’t feeling well, bring them to Balanced Pets. They specialize in primary and integrative care for your furry companions.

11 Signs

Below, we’re going to go over the 11 signs that your dog is sick. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, you need to bring them to see a vet as soon as possible.


Two of the most common reasons to take your dog to the vet are vomiting and/or diarrhea, as they are often the first symptoms of illness. The problem may be mild, or it may be life-threatening. These symptoms could be due to them getting into something they shouldn’t, motion sickness, changing their diet, viral or bacterial infections, or ingesting a foreign object. In puppies, it could be due to parvovirus.

If your dog has one episode of vomiting/diarrhea due to an upset stomach but continues to act normally, watch for their symptoms to progress. A bland, wet food such as one made with ground beef or boiled chicken and rice may be given in small amounts for a couple of days until symptoms resolve.

Once you’ve determined that they are no longer vomiting and have not had diarrhea, you can begin to re-introduce dry food. If the symptoms occur several times in 24 hours and they seem weak, lethargic, or are dry heaving, you should take them to a vet immediately.

Increase/Decrease in Urination

Observe your dog for the following signs:

  • Changes in urine volume
  • Blood in urine
  • Straining to urinate

These additional signs are very important- especially if your dog is a senior. If your dog is having trouble urinating, you see blood in their urine, or they are urinating more often than usual, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you can, try to bring a sample with you.

Appetite Loss

Most dogs will have their own habits when it comes to eating and may eat more on some days than others. Loss of appetite could be due to a variety of issues. Some of them may be serious, while others are nothing to worry about. Conditions such as anorexia may indicate dental disease, especially if they also have bad breath.

Try offering them their favorite treats or small servings of cooked ground beef or chicken to get them interested in eating. If appetite loss lasts for more than 1 day or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting, weakness, or lethargy, take your dog to the vet.

Changes in Drinking Habits

If your dog’s drinking habits change, it could be due to a variety of health issues. If they’re drinking less than usual, it could be that they’re not feeling well and if they’re drinking more than usual, it could be that they have a fever, kidney disease, hormonal issues, diabetes, or other issues.

Monitor their water consumption. Along with this, pay attention to their urination. If the issue is persistent, take them to see a vet and, if possible, bring a urine sample.

Unexplained Changes in Weight

If your dog suddenly gains or loses a lot of weight, it could be an indication that they have an underlying health issue. This one may take a little longer to notice.

Unexplained changes in weight are always a concern and could be due to a variety of issues. Ideally, you should have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.

Personality Changes

If your dog isn’t feeling well or is in pain, they may display behavioral changes, including lethargy or a decrease in activity. If your dog is typically social, he/she may begin to withdraw and if your dog is typically kind and energetic, they may begin to be aggressive and snippy.

If your dog growls when you get close to a certain area, it could be the source of their discomfort. Of course, not all dogs display negative behavior when they are sick. Some may become more clingy or needy and some may display changes in their routine, which is common in dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction.

Pay attention to other signs/symptoms of illness that your dog may display, including lack of appetite, straining to urinate, abdominal pain, lameness, vomiting/diarrhea, and others. If there are substantial alterations in your dog’s behavior or they have other signs/symptoms of sickness, contact a vet.

Coughing/Wheezing/Difficulty Breathing

Symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and nasal discharge indicate that your dog may have a respiratory issue. Symptoms vary from a simple cold to kennel coughcanine flu, and even heart failure. If your dog makes a honking noise, it could be tracheal collapse, which is common in small breeds.

If your dog is struggling to breathe or they have a blue tint to their tongue/gums, this is an emergency, and you should seek emergency vet services. If they have an occasional cough, monitor it and if it doesn’t resolve or other symptoms manifest, they need to see a vet.

Itchy Skin/Hair Loss

Persistent itching or hair loss (alopecia) could be due to a skin infection, allergies, or fleas and can be extremely uncomfortable.

If your dog is itching or losing hair, examine them for fleas, flea dirt, discharge, pain, redness, swelling, or a strange odor. You can bathe them to soothe mild symptoms- but if the issue is more serious, you may need to take them to see a vet.

Limping/Difficult Standing or Walking

If your dog is having trouble standing or walking, it could be due to joint issues, a broken bone, hip dysplasia, Lyme disease, arthritis, etc. If they are having trouble getting around, keep their activity minimal.

If their behavior is otherwise normal, a day or so of rest may help. However, if the issue is persistent or you’re concerned, contact a veterinarian for guidance.

Changes in Eyes

If your dog is holding their eye closed or their eyes are red, runny, or squinting, it could be a sign of a variety of issues from a mild infection to glaucoma. If you notice your dog pawing or rubbing their eyes, try to stop them and contact your vet, as this could cause serious damage. They may need to wear a special collar until the issue clears up.

Pale Gums

The best way to check your dog’s gums is by lifting their lip and looking. Normal, healthy dogs have moist, pink gums. Pale gums is a sign of a health issue for your dog. All of the potential causes of pale gums are potentially serious.

If your dog has pale gums, is struggling to breathe, and is lethargic and weak, it may be an emergency. Contact a vet immediately.


If you are in or near Traveler’s Rest, SC and your pet is sick, bring them to the professionals at Balanced Pets. They can help you get your best friend feeling better.

When you come in, make sure that you make the vet aware of your dog’s health history, any medications they are currently taking, and the symptoms they are displaying.