One fundamental aspect of caring for our dogs is understanding when they are not feeling their best. Dogs are good at masking the symptoms of a medical condition, so by the time they display obvious signs, they’ve likely been sick for some time.
Many symptoms of poor dog health are subtle and even the most well-meaning pet parents attribute these changes to aging, a change in environment or family dynamics such as a child going off to college.
A well-balanced diet using high-quality dog foods such as dry dog food, RawMix dog food and freeze dried dog food can be foundational for maintaining your pup’s health. But how exactly can you know if your dog is sick? Learn the common signs to watch out for and when to know if they need veterinary attention.
Behavioral signs in dogs can provide valuable clues about their overall health and well-being. Paying close attention to these behavioral warning signs can help you detect potential health issues in the early stages:
- Loss of appetite and increased thirst: If your once-enthusiastic eater becomes disinterested in food or starts drinking more water, it may indicate an underlying problem. When your dog stops eating, it may signal gastrointestinal issues, dental problems or systemic diseases like diabetes.
- Lethargy: If your normally energetic and playful dog becomes unusually lethargic, it may be time to take it to the vet. Lethargy can be a sign of pain, illness or discomfort. Check for signs of discomfort, like limping or vocalization when touched and call your vet if lethargy persists.
- Changes in temperament: Dogs are creatures of habit, so abrupt personality changes are cause for concern. Look for increased aggression, anxiety, fearfulness or restlessness. Behavioral changes can be linked to pain, stress or cognitive dysfunction.
- Isolation: Dogs are social animals; sudden withdrawal from social interaction can indicate distress. If your dog isolates itself and avoids contact or hides, it may be experiencing discomfort or anxiety. However, this change is also common in senior dogs with cognitive dysfunction.
- House training issues: Accidents in the house, especially when your dog is already housetrained, can be a sign of an underlying problem. Urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease or anxiety can all contribute to house training problems.
Physical signs in dogs are often the most visible indicators of their health. Monitoring these signs can help you identify potential issues and seek timely veterinary care:
- Vomiting and diarrhea: Occasional vomiting and diarrhea can happen due to dietary indiscretion or minor stomach upset. However, persistent or severe episodes, especially when accompanied by blood, mucus or lethargy, can signal more serious conditions like infections, dietary allergies or gastrointestinal disorders.
- Coughing and sneezing: Frequent coughing or sneezing may indicate respiratory issues, allergies or infections. Chronic coughing, especially if it worsens over time or is accompanied by nasal discharge or labored breathing, should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Multiple health concerns, including chronic bronchitis, canine influenza, lungworms, allergies or heart disease, can cause chronic coughing and sneezing.
- Changes in bowel movements: Pay attention to your dog’s stool quality and frequency. Diarrhea or constipation that persists beyond a day or two can suggest gastrointestinal problems, dietary issues or parasites.
- Weight fluctuations: Weight fluctuation in dogs, including weight gain and loss, can indicate underlying health issues. Rapid weight loss could mean diseases like diabetes, kidney failure or cancer, while sudden weight gain may be a symptom of hypothyroidism, fluid retention or hormonal imbalance.
- Changes in coat and skin: Excessive shedding, hair loss, dry or flaky skin or the appearance of lumps, bumps or rashes could indicate allergies, dermatitis, hormonal imbalances or even systemic diseases.
Eye and Ear Issues
Redness, discharge, cloudiness or excessive tearing in the eyes may signal eye infections, injury or allergies. Similarly, ear odor, itching, redness or head-shaking can be signs of ear infections or allergies. Prompt treatment is crucial to prevent complications.
- Bad breath: Bad breath in dogs is not uncommon, but it could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires attention. While occasional foul-smelling breath could result from something the dog ate, persistent bad breath may indicate dental problems like gingivitis or periodontal disease.
It can also signify other health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease or gastrointestinal problems. Bad breath can sometimes be linked to respiratory infections or sinus issues.
- Fever: A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 99.5 to 102.5°F. A high fever (above 103°F) is an indication of infection or inflammation. Fevers can accompany various illnesses and should be investigated by a veterinarian.
The Role of a Balanced Diet in Your Dog’s Well-Being
Maintaining a balanced diet can be a primary defense against sickness, aiding prevention and recovery. Foods rich in essential nutrients, like those found in RawMix dog food, can boost your dog’s immune system, making it less susceptible to illnesses.
If your dog has dietary restrictions, try RawMix dog food for a natural blend of ingredients. The raw components provide essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aid digestion, possibly reducing the incidence of gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. RawMix dog food is easily digestible and supports healthy gut flora.
Wet foods or diets with high moisture content can aid in keeping your dog hydrated, potentially reducing the risk of urinary tract issues and promoting overall health. A diet free from artificial additives and preservatives can be less likely to irritate your dog’s digestive system, preventing issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Before drastically changing your dog’s diet, consult a veterinarian. They can provide guidance on the best dietary choices for your dog, taking into consideration their individual health needs.
Keep Your Dog Healthy
Recognizing signs of illness in your dog is essential for responsible pet ownership. Your dog relies on you to advocate for good health and well-being. Regular observation, open communication with your veterinarian and prompt action when you notice abnormalities are vital to ensuring your canine companion enjoys a long and happy life.