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How to Recognize Symptoms of Serious Illness in Dogs

Dogs rely on their owners to know them intimately enough to know when something is wrong. Identify symptoms that can indicate that your dog is sick and needs to see a veterinarian.


  • Step 1: Know your dog Pay attention to the way your dog acts when they are healthy. Knowing how your dog normally behaves will help you distinguish odd behavior.
  • TIP: If you notice odd behavior, make a note of the date you first noticed it so you can tell your veterinarian.
  • Step 2: Check the food bowl Check the food bowl to make sure that your pooch is eating regularly. Most dogs will readily eat anything left on the ground for too long, so if they are not eating, it may be an indication something is wrong.
  • Step 3: Listen Listen to the dog's breathing. If they are coughing or wheezing, they should see a vet immediately. Breathing problems could indicate heart problems.
  • Step 4: Watch for vomiting Watch for vomiting. This behavior should send up a warning flag if it is severe or is accompanied by lethargy. This could indicate any number of serious health issues.
  • TIP: It is important to watch both the frequency and the consistency of your dog's bowel movements. Any changes in either should be mentioned to the vet.
  • Step 5: Note energy level Note the energy level of your dog. If he's usually doing laps around the couch but lately has just been laying on it, it could be a sign of a health problem. By looking for symptoms and getting to the veterinarian, you can have your pup up and running around again in no time.
  • FACT: As of 2010, there were only 28 accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the United States.

You Will Need

  • Knowledge of your dog's behavior
  • Appetite irregularities
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting
  • Consistent energy levels
  • Consistent bowel movements (optional)

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