Article by Eloise Porter | Medically Reviewed by Steve Kim, MD | Featured on Health Line

When to Worry About Your Pet

Your dog is part of the family: He’s your best friend, eats your leftovers, and accompanies you on morning walks. But your dog can’t complain, so how do you know when to seek medical help? How can you tell if that limp signifies a sprain, or that sneeze requires an antibiotic?

Learn the warning signs that mean you should take your pet to the vet.

Odd Eating Habits

It’s not out of the ordinary for your dog to skip a meal or two, especially if it’s hot outside — but any more than this should be a red flag that something is off. Two days without eating is a clear sign that your dog needs an examination. Some diseases cause dogs to develop unusual eating habits. If your dog is usually well-behaved, but begins raiding the pantry and garbage, you should take him for a checkup.

Excessively Thirst

Dogs naturally produce a lot of saliva, so they don’t need to drink as much as we do. A dog that drinks too much water could be developing kidney disease or diabetes. You’ll be able to tell if your dog is drinking too much water if she has an excessive amount of urine, needs to go outside more often, or has accidents in the house.

Rough or Dry Coat

Any pet owner knows that a dog’s coat should be thick, shiny, and soft. A dull coat, or one with rough, dry, or bald patches, is an indication that something isn’t right. The wrong kind of food, an allergy, or a skin disease could be the culprit. Either way, a trip to the vet is a must for a questionable coat.

Sluggish and Tired

A lethargic dog is a sign that something may be troubling her. A lethargic dog may be uninterested in going for a walk, playing, or participating in activities that once brought her joy. While normal fatigue or sore muscles can sometimes be due to high temperatures, if symptoms persist for more than two days, see a vet.


Occasional vomiting isn’t unusual for dogs — animals vomit more often than humans do to get rid of something that doesn’t agree with them. But if your dog vomits frequently or several times in a row, vomits blood, or has a fever, you should call the vet immediately. Severe vomiting could also cause dehydration or diarrhea, so seek treatment early.

Unusual Stool

A dog’s stool is a good indicator of overall health. A healthy dog will have small, firm, moist stools. Dry, hard stools may be a sign of health maladies, dietary problems, or dehydration. Certain stool shapes may indicate worms, while diarrhea, straining, blood, or mucus in the stool lasting more than two days should prompt a visit to the vet.

Sudden Weight Loss 

Even in an overweight dog, sudden loss of weight should prompt you to take him to the vet. Losing weight quickly and unexpectedly could indicate a serious health condition. If your dog drops in weight by 10 percent, bring this to your vet’s attention. In small dogs, this may be as little as a 1-pound weight loss.

Cloudy or Red Eyes

Your dog’s eyes are the gateway to her body. Cloudy or red eyes, squinting, or excessive discharge from your dog’s eyes could indicate an infection. Make sure you bring your dog for a checkup right away. Medication can easily cure an infection.

Scooting or Dragging Rear

If your dog is scooting or dragging her rear on the floor, she may have worms, blocked anal glands, kidney disease, or diabetes.

Get More Information

Due to a dog’s survival instinct, she will work to appear healthy on the outside. It’s important as a pet owner to be observant and aware of the subtlest changes. You know your dog better than anyone, so if something seems wrong, take her to the veterinarian for a checkup.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital,located near Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway offers a full range of companion animal services, including surgery, nutrition and behavior counseling, parasite control and preventative medicine. The hospital also offers advanced imaging through an all-digital spiral CT scanner, a comprehensive dental program and laser treatment.

If you’re looking for quality, compassionate veterinary care in Beaverton, Oregon, come visit us at Laurelwood Animal Hospital.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital

9315 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Phone: (971) 244-4230
Fax: (503) 292-6808

E-mail: [email protected]