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How can you tell if your dog is sick?
Will Draper, DVM posted:
Your dog is a member of your family, right? He probably knows you as well as anybody in your life?and can even tell when you are having a bad day, or not feeling well. But, can you do the same? How can you tell if your dog is sick? Of course there are the obvious signs- diarrhea, vomiting, visible blood?things like that. But there are also other signs- not eating, lethargy, constipation, eye discharge, urinating small amounts more frequently, scratching at ears or skin, etc.- that could be your pooch's way of telling you something.

If your dog is having diarrhea, it could be a sign of a few different issues. The majority of cases are secondary to some sort of dietary indiscretion- i.e. getting in trash, finding an animal carcass outside, or some sort of foreign body. There is also the possibility of intestinal parasites, be it an actual worm or some sort of bacterial culprit. Furthermore, some pets will have diarrhea secondary to some organ inflammation (i.e. pancreatitis, liver problems) or stomach/intestinal issues such as ulcers or even cancer. Age, lifestyle, and other history points help your vet determine what to rule out.
Vomiting? You also see some of the signs you'd see with diarrhea- lack of appetite and lethargy. You'll also notice excessive salivation as a sign of nausea with a dog who is about to vomit. And, vomiting can also be secondary to the issues described above. However, it can also be an indication of some intestinal blockage or food allergy- so letting your vet know the pet's full history is also very important in these cases.

Other pet maladies, such as ear infections, can cause your dog to scratch at his/her ear incessantly?or with deep ear infections even seem to be "off balance". Generally, your veterinarian can determine the cause of this by an otoscopic examination and ear swab sample- and in most cases it can be treated with an ear cleanser and topical ointment. However, there are some chronic cases that might require oral medication?and in some cases even surgery.

What are some of the ways that YOU have been able to tell if your dog is ill?
Dr. Will
ponyrun2 responded:
Many times with my dogs it's just been a "gut instinct" that something is even slightly off with the dog... usually in the way they're acting, walking, or even just the look on their face... luckily most of the time it's just a passing thing and they are back to their happy self in a day or two....

But sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious... case(s) in point... only upon reflection to the week before my Malinois had to be put down did I realized that his heavy panting was probably a sign of his severe anemia and not the hot humid Florida summer as I had thought.... then within the next 6 weeks, prior to my Boxer having to be put down, I chalked up his lack of appetite with having just gone through a Cat 4 hurricane and the lack of power (and A/C) for three hot humid Florida summer days.... as things didn't improve once power was restored I finally got him to the vet and after sending blood off to test for leptospirosis it came back lymphoma (even surprised his vet as lymphoma was further down on her list of possible diagnoses)....
doglover222444888 responded:
my german sheperd had pups three weeks ago and all was fine but now all of a sudden she won't feed the pups and she has massive dirreahha but she is still eating in fact alot can anyone help me to know what to do or what the problem is
Annie_WebMD_Staff replied to doglover222444888's response:
Hi doglover222444888,

Please contact your vet for help as you have a dog with diarrhea that isn't feeding the puppies and do not wait for an only reply from our vets. Please realize that it's not possible for our vet health professionals to diagnose anyone's pets over the internet. If your puppies aren't being fed, you need to contact your vet for assistance.

Please write back once your pets have been seen by a vet and let us know how they are doing.

- Annie
Will Draper, DVM replied to doglover222444888's response:
doglover: I completely concur with Annie. You should get mom (and the pups) to your vet as soon as possible. Please keep us updated.
Dr. Will
An_221056 responded:
My puppy is not eating and seems to just want to lie around. He is usually very hyper and eats and drinks alot. His nose is dry and warm.
Dogbranch responded:
Can someone tell me what to do? My puppy is lethargic, won't eat or drink. His nose is dry and warm.
Annie_WebMD_Staff replied to Dogbranch's response:
Hi dogbranch,

Please contact your vet for help if your puppy isn't feeling well. Not eating and not drinking can quickly turn into an emergency situation. Please realize that our health professional vets are not first responders so if your pet is ill please do not wait for an online reply before seeking help for your puppy.

Won't you please write back and let us know how your puppy is doing once your puppy has been seen by a vet?

Take care!

- Annie
Ottsmom responded:
I'm with you. Just like my children, I could just tell when my dog was not feeling well. What looked like a blister under his tail started to bleed. Our vet said it was a tumor. I had it removed, but my terrier just wasn't back to himself a few days after the surgery. Somewhat lethargic, but the look on his face was a dead giveaway. Turns out the wound had become infected. Back to the vet, some antibiotics and he's back to himself.
My husband thought I was nuts, but going with my instinct turned out to be the right move.
MiMiSnyder responded:
My 5 year old Beagle was constipated for approximately 3 days. Based on a recent experience with one of our other dogs, we put a teaspoon of Metamucil on a small amount of can dog food once a day. This seemed to help, but now he has a smaller stool which is soft and smelly. He will eat but not his usual interest. He is a typical lazy hound dog but with much less energy than usual. Should I take him to the vet.
pittbullsneedlove2 responded:
Dr. Will
I have 2 male pitt bulls that are seven months old and are brothers. They are very active and love to play. Lately for about the past few days Boss has vomited after he eats, and has has loose stools, along with this deep cough (licks mouth afterwards). We also noticed a few days ago at the end of his tail a little section of hair was missing (looked like it was pulled out or shredded) and bleeding. I don't know if he was hurt someone or if he did it himself. He is constantly messing with it. If you could please give me any advice I would be greatly appreciated. I love my dogs and I don't want to loose another one. Oh! I don't know if this is important or not, but about a month and a half ago We lost one of our dogs. She was a chiwinnie who was sick when we got her. I don't know what she died of though. Thanks
pittbullsneedlove2 replied to Dogbranch's response:
I am not a vet, but when my puppy. My husband would take a medicine syringe and feed her every few hours just to get some type of fluids into her. He gave her chicken broth and water. About a day later she was acting her old self.
Home2strays replied to pittbullsneedlove2's response:
well, it sounds like he needs to go to a vet- youve had one dog get sick and die and now another one is sick with vomiting and diarrhea and a cough, it really could be a large number of different diseases. Have any of them been vaccinated? on any type of heartworm preventative? what do you feed them?
doggrandma responded:
My daughter has a 4 year old schnoodle, they have lived with us since the dog was born. My daughter got married a month ago and her and the dog moved out. The dog was fine for the past month and then Friday she threw up once and moped around all day and would not eat. My husband and I visited them the next day and she was fine, playing, eating and running around. This morning my daughter called and said the dog was back to moping and threw up again and also will not eat. Could the dog be depressed or homesick for us.
cathyfairless64 responded:
I gave my dog a dose of the Spectra 7 and now she has been shaking and acting like she is cold. What should I do?


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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