How to Notice Health Issues in Your Dog

Madelene Hissom · Feb 17, 2021

Author: Amanda Brahlek

When it comes to caring for your dog, you likely have their diet down-pat, a walk schedule that your dog doesn’t let you break, and you give your best friend lots of love and attention. But do you know how to tell if your dog isn’t feeling their best? While we may wish that our dogs could verbalize their aches, pains, and discomforts, we are stuck still having to rely on more subtle signs to inform us of our dogs’ underlying health. And even with an understanding of our pet’s personalities, many pet parents find themselves wondering if their pet’s symptoms are cause for concern. 

Ultimately, you are your dog’s caretaker--at least until they’re able to make their own vet appointments, order their medications, and take themselves on walks. So, being able to distinguish between a tummy ache and what may be symptoms of a serious illness is an important skill to have. To help you get a better read on when to worry, we’ve put together some tips to help you notice if your dog may have an underlying illness. 

Protect your dog’s health by looking out for these signs that they have a health issue: 

1. Check Your Dog’s Breath 

How often do you look at your dog’s mouth? If you’re like most dog owners, it’s not that often. But you probably have had the opportunity to notice your dog’s breath. Your dog’s breath is an indicator of your dog’s health. If your dog has smelly or foul breath, you may want to make an appointment to see your vet. Your dog’s breath can even clue you in if your pet contracts parasites or is developing periodontal disease. 

Periodontal disease is an often-overlooked and highly detrimental problem for dogs. In fact, gum disease is now linked to a shorter lifespan for dogs. So, be sure to check your dog’s teeth from time to time. Red, sore gums, any lumps or bumps, or a line of discolored tartar along the gum line are signs that it’s time to check in with your vet. 

 2. Pay Attention to the Condition of your Dog’s Coat 

If you notice your dog’s coat isn’t as shiny and clean as it once was, your dog may be suffering from a lack of healthy Omega fatty acids or another health issue. Your dog’s coat is a reflection of their internal health. If your dog isn’t grooming themselves as well as they once did, it may be a sign they are struggling with joint pain, limited flexibility, or dementia. Increasing your dog’s Omega fatty acids may help their coat condition and collagen can help with their flexibility. 

 3. Be Vigilant About Changes in Behavior 

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Spot seems to be acting funny” Your dog may have had a tummy ache. Dogs tend to sense that they’re ill and can experience a change in personality or habits. Pain can also cause them to act differently. Some of the most common changes in behavior that may suggest your dog needs a vet visit include: 

  • Becoming withdrawn 
  • Reluctance to partake in activities they once enjoyed 
  • Aggression or irritability 
  • Change in appetite, usually a lack of appetite 
  • Sleeping more or being more lethargic 
  • Suddenly grooming or licking more 

 4. Notice How Your Dog Moves 

All dogs slow down with age, so when should a dog parent worry? While joint pain and arthritis may not be life-threatening, they do cause chronic pain which can prevent your dog from enjoying life to its fullest. Not being as active can also be a sign that your dog has another underlying condition like hip dysplasia or diabetes.  

You will want to seek advice from your vet if your dog:  

  • Struggles to get up from their bed 
  • Has trouble getting around the house 
  • Can no longer jump up onto surfaces 
  • Cries out when moving 
  • Tires quickly 
  • Limps or begins walking differently 
  • Avoids putting weight on one foot 
  • Stops periodically on walks or pulls to go back home 

 5. Check-In With Your Dog’s Breathing 

Your dog’s respiratory system keeps your dog active. If your dog seems to struggle when breathing or coughs frequently, there may be cause for concern. Trouble breathing can be a sign of heartworms, allergies, heart issues, or a problem with your dog’s lungs. Do not hesitate to make a vet appointment if you notice your dog has persistent problems breathing. 

Keeping Your Dog Healthy, Happy, and Full of Life 

Keeping your dog healthy and happy is easy. Never skip your dog’s annual exams and provide them with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Prevention is always easier and less expensive than treatment, so stay on top of things and treat your dog to plenty of collagen, Omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Providing your dog with beneficial chewing options can also reduce the risk of gum disease. 

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