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My Dog Is Sick - These Are the First Signs of an Illness in Dogs

07.10.2022 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Hund schläft auf Kissen

How you can tell whether your dog is sick and what you need to do in an emergency.


My dog is sick – what should I do? Tips for visiting the vet and treatment

Is your dog ill and do you not know what to do? In order to be able to respond quickly in an emergency or to clarify the first symptoms over the phone if you are uncertain, keep the telephone number of your vet and that of the veterinary emergency service for night-time and at the weekend on hand. A visit to the vet is rarely a pleasant experience for dogs. And it goes without saying: The dog is ill and we are suffering with it. Nevertheless, avoid calming words and pats in the waiting room. These increase the dog’s uncertainty. Instead, exude a positive feeling – this awakens trust in your dog and takes away its fear. The patient will then recover and be up and about again soon.

Symptoms of illness in dogs: These are the first signs of an illness in dogs

Trembling, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite – the first signs of dog illnesses can be recognised quickly. But which illness symptoms in dogs indicate a serious illness? And which ones can you treat at home without consulting a vet? The general rule is: If you are uncertain, it is better to go to the vet directly. You should not give your dog medication arbitrarily either. In most cases, if a dog is ill, it will not eat. This symptom in dogs can be an initial sign that it is unwell but does not necessarily have to indicate a serious illness of the dog.

Dog is ill and is not eating
If your dog does not touch its food, this can also be because it associates bad experiences with the food or it simply does not like it. Hormones also influence the eating behaviour of dogs. Females in season and male dogs around them generally tend to eat less. Sick dogs with a temperature, however, also eat less. It is therefore important that you monitor the illness symptoms of your dog closely. Be sure to measure your dog’s temperature. A body temperature between 38.5 and 39 °C is normal. If the dog is trembling and looks tired, you should also measure its temperature. Individual and repeated bouts of a high temperature, refusal to eat, swelling of the lymph nodes and lethargy can, among others, also be illness symptoms for a borrelia infection (borreliosis) in your dog. If your dog has diarrhoea or is constantly vomiting, seek out a vet immediately. Symptoms such as saliva flow, pale mucous membranes, unrest as well as excessive panting can be signs of a life-threatening twisted stomach. If your dog can also no longer vomit or drink on its own, take it to the next animal clinic immediately. A twisted stomach is life-threatening and can only be treated with an operation.

Recognise symptoms of illness in old dogs
Just like with people, the susceptibility for illness increases with ageing in dogs too. Illness symptoms in old dogs frequently indicate illnesses of the locomotor system, which suffers from age-related signs of wear. Not only with old but frequently with large dogs such as Alsatians, we find so-called dysplasia of the hip joint. Depending on the severity, treatment can be, among others, an operation, a conservative pain therapy through anti-inflammatory means but also through physiotherapy. A classical age-related illness is, for example, the so-called spondylosis. These are calcifications on the spine which can result in pain when walking up the stairs or running. Usually, spondylosis is treated within the framework of a symptomatic treatment. Depending on the symptom and the joint affected, a physiotherapy and also the controlled training on the underwater treadmill as well as swimming, acupuncture or pain therapy can help to alleviate the symptoms.

What are the frequent dog illnesses?

Arthritis arthrosis

Ear illnesses


Interverbral disk disease – slipped disk



Dysplasia of the hip joint

Twisted stomach



Kennel cough


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