DOGS SICKNESS GUIDE A TO Z
Read our dogs sickness guide A to Z to help your furry friend recover quicker and get the help they need.
Abdominal pain or swelling
Having a sore tummy could be a sign that your dog has eaten too much or it could be something more serious. Swelling of the belly can be a symptom of bloat or of peritonitis, a serious infection caused by ruptures in a dog’s intestine from eating sharp foods or objects.
If your dog has foul breath, it could be a sign of poor dental hygiene and teeth problems such as infected gums or rotten teeth. Bad breath can also signal other health issues in the liver, kidneys or intestines.
Bloating is when the stomach swells to an abnormal size and can be tender to touch. It can be a sign of gastric dilatation, a potentially deadly condition for dogs which causes their stomach to twist and trap gas inside it.
If you spot blood in your dog’s stools, it could be a sign of internal parasites such as worms. It may also be caused by a gastro-intestinal infection.
If a dog has a cloudy white film over their eyes, they may be developing an eye problem like glaucoma or retinal atrophy. These conditions are more common in older dogs and can eventually lead to blindness.
While constipation is normally a sign of a poor diet or lack of exercise, it can also signal other things too. It could be caused by an enlarged prostate gland, blocked anal sacs, ingestion of large items like stones, bones and plants, or an obstructive tumour in the anus.
Occasional coughing is normal for dogs. If your dog is coughing frequently however, they could have a virus or be suffering from another underlying health problem such as worms, heart disease, a fungal infection or lung problems. It could also be kennel cough (a hacking cough) which is highly contagious but should clear up within a few weeks. Sometimes antibiotics is required if it doesn’t clear up – your vet will prescribe this if so.
The most common causes of diarrhoea are a change in diet or a food intolerance. However, it can also be caused by dogs eating food that’s off, ingesting poison, having worms, having a bacterial infection or by a more serious condition such as liver disease or cancer of the intestinal tract.
All dogs drool a little bit (some breeds more than others!) but excessive drooling could be a sign that there could be something wrong in the mouth, such as disease, a decaying tooth or a foreign object. Drooling is also a sign of heat stroke.
Eating grass is a popular pastime of many dogs- but exactly why they do it is a bit of a mystery. It may be to make themselves vomit if they feel unwell, to help with their digestion or simply because they like the taste of it.
If your dog’s nose feels hot and dry even when well hydrated or they have a temperature over 39°C, they may have a fever. Fevers can be caused by infections or poisoning - a dog may also have a mild fever for a day or two after having a vaccination.
Dogs usually gag if there is something caught in their mouth or throat. It can also be a symptom of kennel cough.
If your dog is passing wind a lot, it’s probably something to do with their diet such as an intolerance or poor quality food. It can also be a side effect of medications or a sign that your dog has a problem with their intestines.
While shedding is normal for most breeds of dog, excessive loss of hair or bald patches can be a symptom of bacterial infections or allergies. It is also a sign of Cushing’s disease, which is a hormonal disorder that is more common in older dogs.
Dogs itch and scratch themselves just like any human would. If you notice them doing it excessively, it may be down to an allergy (usually caused by food, their environment or soaps that irritate the skin), dry skin, hormonal changes, anxiety, or parasites such as lice or fleas.
A dog may lick their skin excessively for the same reasons they itch it. However, licking can also be a sign of a scratch or wound under the fur. Dogs can also lick their paws due to boredom.
Dogs may limp due to a sprain in a ligament or from straining a tendon in their legs or feet. They are fairly common and usually caused by overdoing it when out on their walks. Limping may also be an early sign of joint issues such as arthritis, more common in older dogs.
Lumps and bumps
Lumps and bumps on may be just fatty tumours caused by fatty deposits being laid down – these are more common in older dogs and not usually a cause for concern. Other lumps may be warts, abscesses, or sebaceous cysts which will require treatment. In some cases, lumps may be cancerous tumours so it’s worth having them checked out by a vet.
Panting is normal for dogs as it is their way of cooling their body down. If they are panting a lot though, they may be dehydrated, have heat stroke, have ingested poison or suffer from a respiratory disorder. Some breeds will pant more than others, especially those with flatter faces such as Pugs or French Bulldogs.
Having pink or red skin inside the ear can be a symptom of an infection. Ear infections should be treated as soon as possible as particularly bad infections may lead to deafness.
If your dog has red or bloodshot eyes, or a foreign body in the eye, they may be suffering from an allergy or be developing a serious eye problem such as glaucoma.
This strange sneezing (that sounds like snorting) is common in dogs with flatter skulls (such as Pugs). It can also be a symptom of an allergy or a blocked nose, or simply caused by over excitement.
If your dog suffers from seizures, it may be a sign of a disorder like epilepsy or from other health issues like brain cancer. Seizures may also be caused by a head injury or ingesting poison.
Shivering from a dog is rarely caused by the cold. Instead, it may be a sign that they are very excited, feeling nauseous, scared, are experiencing pain or have eaten something toxic.
Sneezing or having a runny nose can be caused by excitement, an allergic reaction or upper respiratory infection. It may also have more serious origins such as an infection or cancer.
The most common cause of excessive thirst in a dog is dehydration however it can also signal that they have an underlying health problem such as diabetes, cancer, or liver disease.
Urination problems in dogs can include excessive weeing, inability to wee, straining to wee or seeing blood in the urine. Each symptom will have an individual cause but these can commonly range from having a weak bladder, being old, having an imbalance of hormones, suffering from a urinary tract infection, having urinary stones or having a prostate disorder (in male dogs only).
Dog’s may vomit for several reasons. It can be caused by eating something that disagreed with their tummies, from eating too quickly, from motion sickness or from other more serious conditions like liver failure, bacterial infections in the intestines or heat stroke.
Weight gain in a dog is usually caused by being fed too much food or not being exercised enough. However, it can also be a symptom of other underlying health conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome.
Weight loss may be a sign that you’re not feeding your dog enough, that they are chronically dehydrated or because they are getting old. It can also be a symptom of kidney failure, diabetes or hyperthyroidism.
If you are concerned about any symptoms your dog might be displaying or if you believe it may have one of the serious conditions mentioned above, it’s important that you speak to your vet.