One of the best ways to detect serious medical problems is by paying attention to what is happening inside your body. Unfortunately, our pets are not able to tell us when something is wrong inside their body (or can they?). In the same way that we must be attentive to certain symptoms in our body, there are also signs and symptoms that we can observe in our dog that allow us to know when something is very wrong .

Playing doctor with your pets can be dangerous. The best thing to do in these cases is to ask for the help of a vet.
But how are we supposed to know if we should care enough about our dog’s symptoms to take him to the vet?
While this list should not take the place of medical advice, this is solely on the signs and symptoms that indicate that something important may be wrong.

Knowing these symptoms could save your dog’s life

The most important thing you can do when you observe these symptoms in your dog is to get medical attention. After all, your pet can’t use words to tell you what’s wrong, so it’s your job to make sure you bring it to someone who can.
This is very important information that could save your dog’s life. And for sure you will be very happy to know:

Unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss in your dog could be a sign of a serious problem that requires a trip to the vet.
There can actually be very few serious causes of weight loss in your dog, such as metabolic disorders, neuromuscular disease, cancer, and heart disease. Weight loss can also stem from dietary causes, such as a loss of appetite.
While losing a pound shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, losing 10 percent of your normal body weight is already a sign that there may be a bigger underlying problem, and a visit to the doctor should definitely be warranted. .


A significant and prolonged fever in your dog is a sign that something important may be going on inside his body.
If your dog’s temperature rises, this usually means that his body is fighting an infection. The normal temperature in dogs is 38.5 to 38.8 ° C. If your pet feels somewhat hot and his temperature is higher than normal, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
A fever is a sign that your dog might be struggling with something serious. That is why it is necessary to take him to see a doctor, especially if this is accompanied by other symptoms.

Problems with defecation

Diarrhea or blood in your dog’s stool may indicate that something is not right internally.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration and can be deadly for small dogs. It goes without saying that you should take your dog to the vet if you see blood in his stool. This could be a sign of an ulcer, a parasite, or even colitis and anal gland conditions.
Blood should always mean a trip to the vet, and diarrhea accompanied by any of these symptoms should certainly trigger a red flag.

Persistent cough

Persistent coughing in dogs is never a normal thing.
Dogs don’t get asthma, so this cough can be a sign of bronchitis, pneumonia, heart problems, or a tracheal collapse (weak cartilage in the airways makes breathing difficult). Treatments include anti-inflammatories and surgery.
A frequent cough is not necessarily a cause for alarm. However, all pets that experience a persistent cough should be seen by a veterinarian to rule out some of the more serious possible causes.

Fatigue or fainting

Extreme fatigue and fainting are two symptoms that should be taken very seriously.
Some dogs recover very quickly and look essentially normal within seconds to minutes after collapsing, while others remain in the same collapsed state until help is received. All reasons for collapse or fainting are serious and should not be ignored. Consult your vet immediately.
If your dog seems abnormally tired, taking a trip to the vet can be crucial to check for potential illnesses, including cancer, kidney disease, and pancreatitis.

Distended abdomen

A bloated belly occurs when there is abnormal inflammation in the stomach area. This should always be taken very seriously.
Many of the potential causes of a distended abdomen can be life threatening. This inflammation could be a sign of some type of hormonal disease, or even internal bleeding.
This distention could not only be a sign of disease, the swelling could also put pressure on the chest cavity, making it difficult for your dog to breathe. Always consult a doctor when you notice this symptom.

Difficulty urinating

There are many reasons why your dog might be having frequent unsuccessful attempts to urinate, but some of them are certainly serious enough to warrant a trip to the vet.
If you own a male dog, the symptoms may mean bladder stones or other obstructions. Your vet can remove the blockage or operate if necessary.
Another thing to watch out for is blood in urine. This could be a sign of those same bladder stones, as well as cancer or an infection. If you see blood, a trip to the vet is absolutely necessary.

Labored breathing

As with people, shortness of breath is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention.
If your dog is panting more than usual, tires easily, or suddenly has loud or noisy breathing, it should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. Heart and lung diseases, infections, blockages, and more can cause sudden breathing problems.
Shortness of breath can lead to insufficient oxygen reaching your dog’s major tissues and organs, and heart failure is certainly a possible outcome.

Red eyes

Redness in the whites of your dog’s eyes could be a sign of a much bigger problem.
If the white area of ​​your dog’s eyes turns bright red, it is a sign of inflammation or infection that indicates one of several diseases. Certain eye disorders can lead to blindness, so any significant change in the appearance of the dog’s eyes should be investigated.
Besides an eye infection, other possible causes could be glaucoma or an eye socket disorder. It is crucial that a vet takes a look into your dog’s eyes to determine what is wrong.


A restless behavior in the dog could be his way of telling you that something is wrong. This could include restlessness, whining, being scared, or shaking.
These symptoms can be a sign of a very serious illness. While restlessness itself isn’t necessarily caused by illness, it can be your dog’s way of telling you that he’s not feeling well. This can create a feeling of anxiety in them.
Whether your dog is in pain or just generally unwell, you’ll need to see a vet and check for the true cause.


Vomiting can be something you’ve grown used to as a pet owner. In fact, occasional vomiting shouldn’t be a cause for great concern. But if they become much more frequent, such that it happens three or more times a day, it is time for a trip to the vet.

Don’t expect the possibility that your pet is suffering from intestinal obstruction, infection, pancreatitis, liver or kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, or worse. The sooner your condition is diagnosed, the better (and less expensive) treatment will be.

Again, if frequent vomiting is present, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor.

Knowing the different symptoms that require a trip to the vet should not be a cause for alarm. But it is very important to always be aware of any of these. The health of your dog is in your hands.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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