No one wants to endure the stress of their animal getting ill, but the unfortunate reality of life as a pet owner is that, from time to time, our beloved animal will come down with something nasty.

While cats tend to hide the fact they’re sick from the world, the good news is that dogs make it clear when they’re not feeling 100% and there are several telltale signs you can look out for.

So, without further ado, here are a few classic symptoms.

Vomiting and/or diarrhea

Your dog might throw up once in a blue moon – and that’s fine, especially if she’s often outside and eating bits and pieces she’s stumbled upon. But regular vomiting is a no-no and the same goes for diarrhea. Your dog could be suffering from a bad bout of gastro or an associated illness.

As gross as it sounds, check the stools and the vomit for any traces of blood, and if you spot any, schedule an appointment with the vet right away. She might be suffering from a gastric ulcer – or worse.

If there isn’t any sign of blood but your dog is nonetheless regularly retching, don’t delay seeing the vet either. It’s a clear warning sign and a cause for concern.


Is your dog normally raring to go outdoors and play but is unable to get off the couch? Is she sleeping longer than normal and finding it hard to rise in the morning?

She’s likely under the weather.

Monitor the situation and take her to the vet within a week or so if the prognosis doesn’t improve.

Also, it’s a good idea to monitor the quantities of food she’s easting. Unlike cats, dogs can get away with reduced appetites for a longer expanse of time but a smaller appetite is a cause for concern nonetheless. Paired with a reduction in energy levels, you can be fairly certain she’s suffering from a bug of some kind.

Increased thirst and/or urination

Are you filling the water bowl more often? Hearing your dog take trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night? That might be a sign your dog is suffering from diabetes. How does her breath smell? Sweet and fruity? And how is her weight? Is she thinner than normal? All these are warning signs that necessitate a trip to the doggy doctor.

Bad skin

Check your dog’s coat – and skin – regularly, keeping an eye out for dryness, lumps and sores and hair loss.

As in humans, the skin is a good indicator of overall health. Your dog might be suffering from a staph infection or a wider yeast intolerance. A vet will be able to quickly determine what the cause is and what the best course of action should be.

Give your dog a regular brushing and use this time to do your check-up.

Other things to look out for

– Are your dog’s eyes bloodshot?
– Is she coughing repeatedly?
– Is she showing impairment in her movements, such as her ability to climb stairs or move around the house?
– Does her breath smell strange, and is she drooling as well?

These are all classic signs that her health is not in a good place.

How do I safeguard my dog against severe illness?

– De-worm your dog
– Take your dog to the vet for an annual check-up
– Give your dog plenty of exercise – at least 30 minutes a day, and more if they’re a puppy or a particularly active breed.
– Feed your dog the best food. Check out this article we wrote on what constitutes a healthy diet.