Is your dog acting weird? Some of the weird behaviors can be the signs dog is sick. You should note any sudden change in your pet’s behavior. Then, based on the severity and the duration of the strange behavior, you can take action.
If you can’t attribute the new behavior to a recent event or a known cause, you should talk to a vet. Check out the list of strange dog behaviors that can mean your dog is sick.
Dog not eating
Sick dogs often lose their appetite. If your dog is refusing to eat even his favorite food, he might be in trouble. If this goes on for more than a day, especially if there’s also vomiting or diarrhea, your dog needs to see a vet.
The causes for loss of appetite can range from an upset stomach or loose tooth to serious illnesses such as cancer. Even a recent move or a change of food or daily routine can cause your pooch to refuse food. The first thing you should do is check if your dog ate something bad. Also, consider any existing medical conditions or medication side-effects.
If nothing comes to mind, try offering your dog some bland chicken with white rice, unseasoned pumpkin, or bone broth. If nothing works and it’s been more than a day or two since the dog’s last meal, consult a vet.
Not drinking water
If your dog is not drinking water, this can be a sign of diabetes, kidney disease, bladder disease, or other urinary tract diseases. Dogs shouldn’t go even a day without water. If you notice the water bowl is still full at the end of the day, check your pet for signs of dehydration.
When a dog is dehydrated, the gums will be dry, and the skin on the back of the neck will not pop back into place immediately when pulled. Try to encourage your dog to drink water or offer some bone broth or Pedialyte. If nothing works, check in with a vet as soon as possible so they can rehydrate your dog.
If you can’t get to a vet immediately, there’s something else you can try.
My dog wouldn’t drink water after her surgery or the following day. To prevent dehydration, I filled a syringe (without the needle) with water and slowly sprayed small amounts of fluid into her mouth. I repeated this every couple of hours. If you try this, be careful not to give too much water at once and don’t aim for the throat.
Dog breathing funny
Shortness of breath, coughing, sneezing, and other breathing issues in dogs should be taken seriously. These signs can mean heart problems, infections, flu, cold, allergies, pneumonia or kennel cough.
At rest, healthy dogs breathe 15-20 times per minute. If you notice a big oscillation, and there was no recent physical activity or excitement, take it seriously and consult a doctor. Also, check if there are any chemicals or perfumes your dog could’ve sniffed.
Decreased activity and sleepiness
If your pet is not as active as he used to be and tends to sleep more during the day, pay attention to these signs. Sometimes owners will simply attribute these issues to dog’s age, but there might be something more serious at play.
If your dog is lethargic, it could be a sign of heart disease, diabetes, or depression. If the change in the behavior was sudden, and there’s no apparent reason for it, seek medical attention. Over time, the symptoms can get worse, and your dog can collapse and lose consciousness.
Dog scratching a lot
If your dog is scratching a lot, check for fleas and ticks first. Other reasons for scratching can be injuries, insect bites, allergies, skin infections, or dry skin. You can treat some of these issues with special dog shampoos, powders, or spot-on treatments that kill these parasites.
Other than treating the dog, you should thoroughly clean the house, too. Pay particular attention to your dog’s bedding, carpets, and furniture. If you suspect an allergic reaction, remove the potential allergen from the environment. This can be a chemical or even a food ingredient.
If the problem persists and you can’t pinpoint the cause, make an appointment with your vet.
Chasing tail and circling
As entertaining as it may be to both the dog and us, chasing the tail can indicate a deeper issue.
Causes of circling can include inner ear infection, idiopathic vestibular syndrome, brain tumor, head injury, or poisoning. If your dog gets dizzy, loses his balance, tilts his head, or starts walking funny, don’t ignore these signs. If vomiting is also present, talk to a vet immediately.
Funny for some, disgusting for others. A dog scooting on his bum across the floor is not a good sign. And trust us, it’s not fun for your pooch either. If your dog scoots across the carpet or another area of your house, it’s not a pleasant thing to clean after him.
On the other hand, it can be a bit embarrassing if your dog starts doing this out on the street in front of all those people. Also, if there’s something sharp on the ground, your pet can injure himself.
There are a few simple reasons for dog scooting. These include full or blocked anal sacks, parasites, and feces stuck in the hair around the anus. Other signs that often occur with scooting are licking or biting the behind, and difficulty pooping.
Parasites such as tapeworms can be treated fairly easily with oral medication. But don’t let it get to this; give your dog “the pill“ regularly and prevent these nasty little creatures from causing any trouble.
When it comes to anal sacks, you could express them yourself. But if you have a few extra bucks take your dog to a groomer or a vet. If you’re not used to the smell (by the way, it’s horrible), you’ll soon regret taking on this responsibility.
To prevent scooting, make sure your pet eats a balanced diet. At first sign of trouble, apply a warm, damp cloth to the dog’s behind and gently remove any obstruction.
Dog eating poop
Is your dog eating poop? I know my dachshund sometimes can’t resist it. If you’re wondering why, it might be that they like the smell or the taste of it, no matter how gross it seems to us. However, “coprophagia“ can also mean that they are not getting enough nutrients or not absorbing them properly (known as malabsorption syndrome).
Other reasons for dog eating poop include boredom and removing the evidence from your carpet. Coprophagia is mostly harmless when it only happens sporadically. However, the act in itself can be dangerous.
If the animal that left their “trail“ was sick or on medication, your dog could get very ill as well. Prevent intestinal parasites. This is fairly easy and cheap to implement. And it’s essential since some of the hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and coccidia that harm your dog can also infect humans.
To prevent your dog from eating poop, limit his access to it and use distractions such as toys and treats.
Urinating inside the house
A healthy, house-broken dog will not normally urinate inside the house. If these accidents happen, they are caused by stress, separation anxiety, urinary tract infection, kidney and bladder infection, or diabetes.
If your dog needs to pee more often and drinks more water than usual, check in with your vet. If your dog is on any medication, urinating frequently can be a side-effect. If you notice blood in the urine, don’t waste any time and rush to the vet.
Dog acting aggressive
If your dog’s acting aggressive, it could be a sign he’s sick or in pain. Be patient, gentle, and very careful. Check the dog for any visible sign of injury, and any lumps or bumps on his body.
If your dog starts being aggressive suddenly, don’t just wait and see what happens. The problem will likely get worse for both you and your pet.
Although it’s a long shot nowadays, aggression in dogs can be the sign of rabies. This disease is fatal most of the time, for humans and animals alike. Make sure to update your dog’s vaccines regularly to stay safe. Other symptoms to look out for are the characteristic foam out of the mouth, fever, seizures, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, and poor coordination.
If you suspect your dog has rabies, be cautious and call animal control if the illness has progressed and you feel unsafe.
A dog becoming aggressive can also be the sign of thyroid dysfunction, according to doctors Dodds and Linda P. Aronson. These authors studied “Behavioral Changes Associated with Thyroid Dysfunction in Dogs”. They found that many behaviors such as aggression, phobias, hyperactivity, depression, moodiness, and irritability, can all be signs of thyroid dysfunction in dogs.
Staring into space
Older dogs can sometimes be caught sitting in one place and staring into space. This is a symptom of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. They will not move until you move them, and they can forget who you are. Their behavior will change and quality of life will drop, but treatment can minimize symptoms.
Crying or whining a lot
If your dog starts to cry or whine a lot, this could be a sign of illness. The dog might be in pain, suffer from separation anxiety, or have pseudopregnancy.
Stiffness, lameness, or difficulty getting up
If your dog has trouble getting back on his feet after a nap or starts walking funny, these can be signs of hip dysplasia, arthritis, injured ligaments, or spinal disc disease.
Yes, your dog will get slower and less mobile as he ages. But no, you shouldn’t let stiffness, lameness, and difficulty getting up go untreated. Treatments can reduce the pain and help the dog function. Check with a vet before attributing all the changes to old age.
Even a tick bite can lead to Lyme disease, and eventually, arthritis. Prevention is key.
Larger breeds such as Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Labs, Retrievers, German Shepherds, etc. are more prone to hip dysplasia. Smaller breeds can get it too; it’s just less noticeable as toy dogs are carried around more.
If a dog can’t get up and urinates or defecates where he sleeps, this can lead to other serious problems. Don’t turn a blind eye to these symptoms. Learn what you can do to help your pooch live the rest of his life as comfortable as possible.
Other signs dog is sick
Other than the changes in behavior, these signs dog is sick are harder to miss:
- Changes in the coat
- Blurry eyes
- Smelly ears
- Running nose or nosebleeds
- Sneezing and coughing
- Bad breath
- Swollen stomach
- Inability to urinate or defecate
Now, we’re not saying run to the vet each time your dog has gas. But if you notice a few symptoms occurring at the same time, there’s reason for concern. Also, if there’s just one severe symptom such as blood in stool, urine, or in thrown-up stomach contents, there’s no time to waste.
Dogs can’t spell it out for you when they have a problem, but you can learn to recognize the cues and signs your dog is sick. Some of the illnesses can be prevented by regular tick and flea treatments, vaccination, antiparasitic drugs, a balanced diet and enough exercise.
Is your dog acting weird? Here’s what you need to do:
- Note the behavior changes
- Note the changes in appearance and body weight
- Check for signs of injury, skin and coat changes, and lumps
- Check for fleas, ticks, and other parasites
- Monitor food and water intake and activity levels
- Make sure dog doesn’t get dehydrated
- Consult a vet
- Implement suggested treatment
- Be patient