10 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore in Your Dog

border collie lying under a blanket

Your dog can’t tell you specifically what is wrong with them. When they’re feeling under the weather, you have to take their behavior and physical symptoms into account to figure out what is going on. Sometimes, your dog is just having an off day and other times things can be more serious. Many symptoms often overlap with several different underlying health issues and can be associated with both minor and major health issues. It doesn’t always mean you have to rush to the vet, but you definitely don’t want to brush off or ignore certain symptoms in your dog. Here are some symptoms you should never ignore in your dog:

1. Difficulty Breathing

Whenever your dog is having trouble breathing, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. The longer your dog has difficulty breathing, the less oxygen is getting to their vital organs, which is a serious problem if ignored or left alone. Difficulty breathing can be caused by choking, heart disease, heart murmurs, allergies, panic or anxiety, bloat, and more and should be treated as an emergency.

2. Coughing

A little cough every now and then is normal for a dog. However, coughing that is more consistent and frequent can be a cause for concern and may be a sign of upper respiratory infections in dogs.

It’s usually not an emergency, but a consistent cough in your dog is a sure sign that it’s time for a trip to the vet. It could be related to pneumonia, kennel cough, allergies, an injury to their throat, lung disease, cancer, a heart-related disease, or even radon poisoning.

3. Gagging, Retching, Vomiting

Gagging, retching, and vomiting are all signs that something is wrong with your dog. They could be choking, they could have eaten something harmful to them, may have developed gastritis, they could be clearing mucus if they have allergies, or they could be experiencing bloat.

Bloat in dogs is serious and can be very dangerous if it results in gastric torsion. Your dog may also be restless and may be pacing and drooling if they are experiencing bloat. These symptoms should never be ignored in your dog and it’s important to get to the vet immediately.

4. Excessive Drool

Excessive drool is another symptom you should not ignore in your dog. Some dogs naturally drool more than others and there are many normal reasons why dogs drool. However, when drooling becomes excessive and more than what is normal for your dog, it is a cause for concern.

If your dog is experiencing gastric torsion, which is when the stomach has bloated and flipped, they can’t swallow, so there is nowhere for the drool to go. Excessive drool is also a symptom of heat stroke in dogs, which is also dangerous. They may also be drooling due to ingestion of something harmful or due to something else. Regardless, you want to make sure you go to the vet.

5. Extreme Lethargy or Fatigue

Every dog has a lazy day every now and then. However, if your dog is suddenly extremely tired, lethargic, and fatigued without a good reason for more than a day, you should contact your vet. Lethargy in dogs can be a sign of something more serious.

If your dog is still not regaining their energy after resting up after heavy activity, they could be experiencing a more serious illness or condition. Also, take note of any other signs your dog is in pain. This can help your vet narrow down what could be going on with your pooch.

6. Extended Loss of Appetite

Just as your dog may have a lazy day or an “off” day, there may be times when they just don’t feel like eating. But, if your dog is refusing to eat after several meals, it’s time to call your vet. They could be in pain, have an upset stomach, have issues with their teeth, and more. It’s important to figure out what’s going on and start getting some nutrients back into them.

7. Blood in Vomit, Urine, or Stool

Blood in your dog’s excrement is never a good sign and neither is vomiting. If your dog is vomiting and there is blood in it or you notice blood in their urine or stool, collect a sample, if you can, and get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Seeing this symptom in your dog is terrifying, but it is not always a sign of something life-threatening. It could be a minor cut or infection or it could be something more serious. Regardless, you want to make sure you talk to your vet if you see this symptom in your dog.

8. Trouble Urinating

When your dog has trouble urinating, it can show up in a lot of ways. They could be going far more often than normal, not going enough and showing strain trying to go, or could be in pain while they go.

This could be a simple urinary tract infection that is also easy to treat or it could be something more serious. So, if you see this symptom in your dog, don’t assume it is just dog marking or something else, and put an appointment with your vet at the top of your list.

9. Fever

Your dog may have a fever whenever they’re not feeling well, but it’s always a sign of something going on. The normal body temperature for dogs runs a little warmer than humans. They should range 100.5 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are over 102.5, you should get to the vet. It could be a small, simple infection or something more serious. Either way, a prolonged fever can be dangerous for a dog, even if it’s only a slight fever.

10. Bloating or Distended Stomach

Bloating and extra gas is uncomfortable for everyone, but it can be dangerous for dogs. If your dog’s stomach is bloated or distended, get them to the veterinarian, especially if they are showing other symptoms like excessive drooling, gagging, pacing, and more. Their bloated stomach could have flipped causing gastric torsion, which needs immediate attention. Depending on what is going on, your vet can help.

When it comes to your dog, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If they’re not feeling well, make sure you’re paying attention and that you are not brushing off or ignoring serious symptoms.