Is my Dog Sick? Common Canine Ailments and What to Look For

Sometimes being a pet owner is like being a detective. “Who made a mess in the living room?” “Where did my shoes go?”

One question you may eventually ask yourself is, “Is my dog sick?” We normally expect the unconditional love that our dogs give us. But sometimes they are just not themselves.

If you’ve been wondering if your dog is sick, here are some warning sign to look out for and what you can do about it.

Is My Dog Sick? How to Tell

Because your dog cannot just tell you how they are feeling, you must sleuth around to figure out what’s really going on. Dogs can be just as stubborn as some people, so they might not show how they really feel. Always keep a close eye on your dog, especially if they are acting suspiciously.

You can keep a lookout for these symptoms:

  • Behavior Changes – If you have noticed that your dog is just not the same as they’ve been, there may be an underlying issue. They may be less willing to be with you, they may begin nippy or agitated. On the other hand, they may extremely needy. These are all signs that something might be up.
  • Potty Issues – Most dogs have a regular schedule. If you feed your dogs at certain times of the day, you can reliably know when they’ll have to go out. If this schedule changes, differs in frequency, or if your dog has trouble going at all, this can all be signs of an issue.
  • Fever – Just like with people, a fever is a clear-cut sign that something is wrong. People used to say that a warm, dry nose was a sign of fever, but really the only way to be certain is with a thermometer. If your dog has a fever above 103, you should call your vet. If your dog has a fever above 104.5, you need to start cooling them down now.
  • Trouble Eating – Sick dogs may lose their appetites. They may even have trouble keeping food down. Again, this can accompany a change in urination or bowel movements. Just make certain to keep a close eye on your dog if you notice appetite changes. It can be a sign of a bigger issue.
  • Lameness – It can be a very serious symptom if your dog is having difficulty moving or if they seem agitated. They may even be protective of certain body parts like a leg or a tail.
  • Sleep Problems – Your dog is having a hard time at night might indicate an illness. Your dog may be experiencing pain or discomfort that will keep them awake. And when a dog is sick, the number one thing they need is rest. Be sure to do what you can to comfort them if they are restless or seek the advice of your vet.

Common Ailments

Canine Coronavirus

Canine coronavirus is a highly infectious intestinal disease. According to the VCA, “Coronavirus is usually short-lived, but may cause considerable abdominal discomfort for a few days in infected dogs.” Usually, dogs contract this virus orally through infected fecal matter.

Symptoms: Sudden onset diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Puppies are the most at risk of severe symptoms. Stool will be loose, very smelly, and have an orange color.

 Treatment: Because this is a virus, there are no antibiotic treatments for canine coronavirus. It needs to run its course. Remove food for 24 hours and slowly reintroduce food. This will help the diarrhea subside. However, dehydration is possible. Therefore, if your puppy or dog is really having a hard time, call your vet.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a very serious disease that attacked the respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems of dogs and puppies. This virus isn’t limited to dogs, either. Wildlife such as racoons, coyotes, and even lions and tigers can contract this disease.

Symptoms: First, dogs get a discharge from their eyes. Then, they develop fever, coughing, nasal discharge, reduced appetite, excessive tiredness. As the virus attacks the nervous system, you’ll notice a head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions, etc. Distemper is often fatal.

 Treatment: There is no cure for a distemper infection. Dogs with canine distemper will need to be separated from other dogs.

Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is a common worldwide disease. It’s also contracted by wildlife including wolves, foxes, bears and lynx. It’s passed from animal to animal through saliva, urine and fecal matter.

Symptoms: According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “Signs are apathy, anorexia, thirst, conjunctivitis, serous discharge from the eyes and nose, and occasionally abdominal pain and vomiting.”

 Treatment: Most dogs recover without treatment. Any treatment is for the symptoms of the disease. Prevention is through vaccine.

Canine Influenza

There are two strains of canine influenza in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2. Most cases are not fatal, but it can make your pet very sick. Like the human flu, canine influenza is airborne. Coughing, sneezing and barking allows the virus to spread.

Symptoms: Coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, runny eyes, difficulty breathing.

 Treatment: There is no cure for canine influenza. Only symptoms can be treated.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It’s commonly contracted where lots of dogs come together like doggy daycares and boarding.

Symptoms: Strong cough, lethargy, runny nose, low fever and loss of appetite.

 Treatment: Often, mild cases of kennel cough is treated with a couple weeks of rest. Very severe infections are treated with cough medication and antibiotics. Again, vaccines are the way to prevent this disease.

Prevention is the Key

Most canine diseases can be prevented through vaccine. Be sure to keep your dogs updated on their vaccines in order to keep them from unwanted suffering. If you’re asking, “Is my dog sick?” be sure to see your vet ASAP.

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