Dog Health Warning Signs – How to Recognize Your Dog is Hurting

There are many dog health issues. Dogs can suffer from illnesses in the same way we do. And just as us, they can manifest symptoms every now and then.

The problem with dogs is that they are prone to keeping their symptoms private, and away from your eyes. In many cases, dogs resolve to hide the pain. With that in mind, you have to be able to detect dog health warning signs.

We would love to give you a list of general dog health warning signs, and dog health issues that require your immediate attention.

Keep an eye for these symptoms, and the moment you notice some of them, take your dog to the vet. Better safe than sorry.

Keep in mind, this is a general list. Some of the warning signs you see below might be related to different health issues. That means that you should take your dog to the vet so that he can detect exactly what is wrong with your pooch. Take the symptoms seriously.

General pain

As mentioned previously, dogs usually try to hide their pain. Canines have inherited the instinct to hide their pain. This is because pain is usually seen as being vulnerable, and dogs, the same as wolves, do not like to seem vulnerable.

Instead, dogs try to appear and act in a stoic manner. Many times, dogs suppress obvious signals of pain to protect themselves, but also their social standing in the pack.

With that in mind, some of the symptoms of general pain are the following:

  • Arched back
  • Howling, growling, whining, and other methods of excessive vocalization
  • Hiding
  • Reluctance to touching
  • Reluctance to holding
  • Heavy breathing
  • Reluctance to moving

The best way to determine your dog is in pain if a typically active dog spends the day in his bed hides from you, and avoids touching and petting.

Physical pain

Symptoms of physical pain are very similar to symptoms of general pain. In most cases, dogs suffer from physical pain caused by muscle issues, injuries to joints, or injuries to soft tissues.

The symptoms are very similar to general pain, but there are few exceptions. These exceptions help you determine whether the pain is physical or something in general. For example, licking in one spot.

With that in mind, here are the dog health warning signs of physical pain:

  • Arched back
  • Hiding
  • Heavy breathing
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Baring of teeth or snapping when touched in the area
  • Licking in one spot
  • Reluctance to be touched or held
  • Favoring a specific paw
  • Excessive licking

Heart issues

In most cases, heart issues appear in older dogs. It is just logical. Same as with humans, when dogs age, their heart health is not as good as it was in their young days.

However, bear in mind, heart issues can also occur in young dogs as well. After all, as tragic as it sounds, humans suffer a stroke in their young days as well.

The most common heart issue in dogs is congestive heart failure. Same as in humans, it is not a death sentence, and there is treatment. That is, provided the condition is diagnosed in its early stages.

Here are the signs to watch for:

  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Excessive panting
  • Pacing
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Reduced tolerance to exercise
  • Labored breathing

GI Tract issues

GI tract issues are usually things that pass in a day or two. Bloating, gas, diarrhea, and similar issues can be easily treated. These are the signs associated with the dog’s digestive tract and their digestive health.

Bear in mind, sometimes, these stomach issues can cause fatal problems like an intestinal blockage. Be cautious and schedule a vet appointment if you notice any of the warning signs.

  • Arched backs
  • Pacing
  • Heavy breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Tender belly
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Bloody vomit
  • Bloody stool
  • Dark or black stool

Neurological issues

Epilepsy, wobbler disease, and tick paralysis are the most common neurological disorders in dogs. Rabies can also cause neurological symptoms, but you should not worry if you are vaccinating your dogs on a regular basis.

With that in mind, keep an eye on these symptoms:

  • Head tilt
  • Confusion
  • Getting lost in the home
  • Circling
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Standing in corners


Diabetes is common in dogs that are not fed properly. You have to be careful what are you giving to your dog. If you give your dog unhealthy treats often, he might develop diabetes.

Obesity is another risk factor. The good news is that diabetes can be treated, and with the proper therapy, your dog can go on to live a long and happy life. Diabetes symptoms are unique, and they usually give a clear picture of the disease.

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Dehydration
  • Fruity breath
  • Frequent urination

Blood issues

Anemia, clotting issues, leukemia, and similar blood issues can appear in dogs. You may notice they are very similar as in humans. Even the symptoms are quite similar.

With that in mind, symptoms of blood issues in dogs are:

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Pale conjunctiva, the pink part of the inner eyelid

Top 10 Signs of Dog Illness

We talked about the common dog health warning signs. You probably noticed many of them are similar and can appear in different health conditions.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 most common signs of illnesses in dogs.

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drinking or urination
  • Appetite change
  • Change in activity level
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Frequent digestive upsets or changes in bowel movement
  • Stiffness or difficulty in rising or climbing stairs
  • Sleeping more than usually
  • Dry and red eyes
  • Excessive panting and labored breathing

Diagnosis and treatment

All of the dog health warning signs might not be as obvious as you might think. As mentioned, dogs are very skilled at hiding their pain and symptoms.

That is why, at the slightest sign of something wrong, you should schedule an appointment with the veterinarian, and let him make a diagnosis.

Some of the preventive care testings include:

  • Chemistry and electrolyte test to evaluate internal organ status
  • Tests for heartworm, or other infectious diseases
  • Blood count
  • Urine test for urinary tract infections
  • Thyroid test
  • ECG for heart issues

Preventive care screening can help you detect diseases in the early stages, and make sure that your dog will react positively to treatment. If the disease has progressed too much, treatment might not be successful.

It is the same as in humans. That is why we recommend establishing a regular annual screening routine. And for any questions or concerns, visit your veterinarian.

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