How To Know If My Dog Is Sick Or Just Tired? 5+ Sick/exhausted Dog Symptoms

Not sure when to call the vet? Your pet can be fine one minute and sick or injured the next. We all wish that our pets could tell us what is wrong with them, but since that is not an option, we need to be aware of when there is even a slight change in our pets’ behavior or health.

Many people try to avoid taking their pet to the vet if possible, just because of the sheer cost. A smart way to avoid high vet costs is to purchase a pet wellness plan from your local vet (if they offer that option) or pet insurance.

Some of the most common symptoms that could require medical attention are listed below. If you are ever in doubt, take your pet to a veterinarian just to be safe.


Diarrhea can easily affect your pet. If your pet is having trouble for more than one day, take them to the vet. Diarrhea can also be a sign of giardia which can cause weight loss and should be looked into as soon as possible. To help aid in digestion and solid poop, you can give your pet pumpkin, which is rich in fiber and will soothe their tummies and intestines (it also works great for constipation).

Pure pumpkin can be purchased at any grocery store and is also sold at pet stores. A good brand is Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin which contains only one ingredient — pumpkin. Dogs especially seem to like pumpkin in general, but be sure to give it to them in moderation (1 teaspoon per meal for small dogs and 1 tablespoon per meal for larger dogs).

Urinary Abnormalities or Constipation

Straining to go can be your first warning sign that something may be wrong with your pet. Pets can become constipated just like humans, but constipation can easily escalate into deadly complications. Male dogs are at higher risk for urethral or urinary obstructions. If you notice your pet has not gone to the bathroom (according to their regular schedule) they may need immediate attention. There is an elevated risk of bladder or urethral rupture, kidney failure, blood poisoning, seizures, and other life-threatening conditions.

Increase in Potty Breaks or Water Intake

An increase in urination can be a sign of a bladder infection. If not cared for, a bladder infection can easily turn into a kidney infection, which will be much more painful for your pet and more costly for you. If you notice your pet drinking more water than normal, this can also be a sign that something is amiss (poisoning, infection, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, etc.). Just make sure to evaluate your current situation (i.e.: if you just took your pet for a long run or the weather is extremely hot outside, they are most likely thirsty and will urinate more from drinking a lot of water). If your dog is litter box trained and starts having accidents around the house, this could be a sign of a urinary tract infection and you should take them to the vet immediately.


Vomiting may be a somewhat regular occurrence for curious dogs. Normally if they just get sick once, they should be okay and were able to rid their system of whatever was making them sick. If vomiting persists, take them to the vet to make sure they did not eat something poisonous or contract a parasite like a roundworm.

Lack of Appetite

If your pet just stops eating, this can be a sure sign that they are sick. Be sure that you are not overfeeding (because they could just be full), but if they are refusing food there is most likely something wrong. Dog owners should be particularly cautious when their dog stops eating for more than 48 hours because it can affect the dog’s liver and cause severe damage.

Scratching and Biting

Insects such as fleas, ticks, and mites can cause scratching and biting. There are also more serious causes like infections or parasites. If you see noticeable hair loss, take caution when examining your pet because skin infections such as ringworm are contagious to humans. Scratching can also be a sign of allergies and although there are medications for pet allergies, your pet will usually be okay without them. When in doubt, see your veterinarian.

Other Symptoms:

  • If you notice blood in your pets feces or urine, be sure to seek medical attention for them.
  • Difficulty breathing should be looked into immediately.
  • Sneezing or coughing should not be taken lightly, especially if symptoms persist. Minor breathing issues can escalate quickly into a severe problem and should be given appropriate attention.
  • A decrease in energy level could be a sign of illness or a more serious condition like heart disease.
  • Hip dysplasia usually affects large and giant breed dogs and should be evaluated by your vet. It can cause an abnormal gait, reduced function or lameness/stiffness.

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