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16 Tell-Tale Symptoms You Should NEVER Ignore in Your Dog

Would YOU know to recognize the tell-tale symptoms of your sick pup?

Canines are an essential part of all families. They’re as loved and appreciated as any other member of the pack. With that in mind, we always want to ensure that our sweet pups are in optimal health. Sometimes, it’s relatively easy to tell when your dog feels ill.

Other times, it’s far more complex. But even if they’re willing to communicate their troubles, since they can’t talk, it’s up to you to notice the tell-tale symptoms when something’s wrong. Fortunately, knowing your pet lets you recognize when something is off.

So Since they can’t use words to let us know their ailments, let’s take a look at 16 tell-tale symptoms you should NEVER ignore.

Tell-Tale Symptom
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Excessive Thirst

Have you noticed that you’re constantly refilling your dog’s water bowl because he’s drinking excessively? You should assess how your pup looks. It could be a tell-tale symptom of something serious, especially if they’re gagging, have stomach tightness, or have diarrhea.

It could be canine bloat, which is also known as gastric torsion or gastric dilatation volvulus. Drinking too much water is a general symptom of diabetes, liver disease, and bladder stones. When you take your dog for a walk, keep an eye out for how much urine he’s passing.

Mismatched Eyes

Snap a front-view photo of your dog while your flash is on. Does it seem like one of their eyes is missing a reflection? This is a test similar to when a vet uses a flashlight. The bright light can detect a detached retina. Since eyes come in pairs, they should mostly look the same.

Body Lumps

Lumps and warts on a dog’s body can be fat pockets and benign, harmless tumors. In fact, they’re common in older dogs. But body lumps can also indicate the tell-tale symptom of malignant tumors or inflammation that need looking at by your vet as soon as possible.

An expert will need to perform a biopsy and maybe even start treatment if it turns out to be cancerous.

Bad Breath

Most people think that dogs have foul breath. And that’s actually NOT normal. A bad-smelling mouth could indicate your pup suffers from an oral tumor or periodontal disease. We don’t expect a dog’s breath to be minty fresh.

But sometimes, that smell could be a tell-tale symptom of a life-threatening problem. It’s caused by the bacteria that form plaque on your pooch’s teeth. But it can travel into the sinuses and nasal passages, leading to respiratory problems.

If this bacteria enters the bloodstream, it could wreak havoc in the kidneys, liver, or heart. To prevent this, regularly brush your pup’s teeth and give them toys or treats that are specially made for dental hygiene.

Unnatural Posture

If your dog’s posture suddenly looks hunched over or abnormal, it could be a tell-tale symptom of a health issue. Some conditions linked to an unnatural posture include pain or trauma of the back or neck, gastrointestinal distress, and bladder or kidney problems.


There’s an incredibly long list of reasons why your dog may look sluggish and constantly tired, including heartworm, urinary tract infections, bacterial and parasitic infections, viruses, and many other concerns.

These conditions will cause your dog to refuse to play, be sleepy, and move around much less than usual.

Distress With Dry Heaving, Pacing, And Drooling

If your beloved pooch ever begins to pace, wretch, drool excessively, seem distressed, or have a swollen abdomen, these are all tell-tale symptoms of a life-threatening emergency, including gastric dilatation-volvulus or “bloat.”

Since time is of the essence, take them to the vet immediately. It’s always better to be on the side of caution in cases like this.

Black Patches On Gums

According to veterinarians, dental disease impacts 93% of dogs over 3 years old. When bacteria and food particles aren’t cleaned off a canine’s gums, they get inflamed, and plaque begins to form.

That plaque can turn into gingivitis and, in severe cases, the loss of their teeth. Call your vet if your pooch’s usually pink gums are inflamed or if they’ve developed black patches.

Tell-Tale Symptom
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Abnormal Aggression

On any other day, your dog is well-behaved. But today, he’s growling and snarling, even at people he’s very familiar with. What happened? If your sweet dog is suddenly snappy or growling, it could indicate more than a bad mood.

Some tell-tale symptoms that can cause a dog to become aggressive include a hormonal imbalance, pain, fever, epilepsy, brain tumor, thyroid problems, cancer, cognitive dysfunction, neurological problems, and adrenal gland problems.

Unusual Sneezes

Like us, canines sneeze clear nasal discharge when they have allergies. But if the mucus is cloudy, gray, green, thick, or bloody, it should concern you. He could have a fungal infection or, worst-case scenario, nasal cancer.

A veterinarian will probably perform a CT scan or X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

Head Pressing

If your dog has begun to press its head against the furniture or wall constantly, it could be a tell-tale symptom that something’s seriously wrong, and they need to see a vet ASAP. Issues that can trigger head pressing include:

  • Toxin, poison
  • Prosencephalon disease
  • Nervous system damage
  • Fungal infection
  • Tumor
  • Sodium imbalance
  • Brain damage
  • Trauma

Cloudy Eyes

While inconclusive, cloudy eyes are a significant indicator of cataracts, according to vets. If more than half of the eye is clouded, your pup’s sight becomes obstructed, and he could ultimately go blind.

Cataracts can also indicate diabetes if your dog shows other tell-tale symptoms like urinating and drinking more. Another less scary cause is nuclear sclerosis, a benign effect of aging that, fortunately, doesn’t impair vision.


When you see your dog consistently scooting its behind on the floor, something is itching or bothering them. In most cases, this is caused either by anal gland problems or worms.

Worm infestation can be effortlessly treated with a dewormer, while fluid that has built up in your dog’s anal sacs can be resolved through drainage at your vet’s office.

Your Dog Doesn’t Seem To Have A Waist

An hourglass figure is an immediate indicator of a healthy dog. But if your dog doesn’t have a tucked-in area between their hips and rib cage, they’re probably overweight.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention declared that roughly 54% of dogs in our country are overweight. Like us, this makes animals prone to other medical complications, like diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease.

It can even decrease your pup’s life expectancy by two and a half years.

Tell-Tale Symptom
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Loss Of Appetite

When your dog refuses to eat, it could simply mean they don’t like the food you’ve put in their bowl. But if this continues to happen for more than a few days, it could be a tell-tale symptom of many potential diseases.

Generally, dogs lose their appetite due to stomach blockage, heart disease, liver disease, nausea, and blockage of their intestines.

Trouble Urinating

If your adorable pooch seems to be having trouble urinating, it can be a tell-tale symptom of something else. This includes frequent attempts at urination, straining to urinate, and evidence of distress when urinating.

They may display discomfort by excessively licking themselves in that region or by crying out during urination. There are a few underlying causes, and you should seek help immediately. If left untreated, some causes can result in death in as little as 36 hours.

This list is certainly not complete, and you should ALWAYS check with your vet if you have any concerns. Do you have any experience with any of these tell-tale symptoms regarding your dog’s health? Be sure to leave us a comment and tell us about it!

And if you found this article helpful, we also recommend reading: 14 Secrets Your Veterinarian Won’t Tell You

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