33 Signs Your Dog Needs a Vet

Have you ever looked at your dog and wondered, “Are there signs your dog needs a vet? Should we go to the vet?” I admit, I’ve often pondered this with my dog, Henry. But as soon as I do he’ll generally do something like run around the property at full speed to let me know all is well. 

But what if your dog doesn’t give you such an obvious sign? What are the clues your dog needs a vet? Today, let’s dig in and discover the top 33 signs you should be seeking veterinary help for your pup. 

*Update: March 11, 2024

must know signs your dog needs a vet
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Being a worry wart doesn’t help anyone. Although, I’ve been labeled a worry wart many times. However, being knowledgeable about your dog’s normal behavior and body structure can save you more costly vet bills. Thus, quickly recognizing what’s abnormal can prevent a small issue from becoming a big issue. This is great for your dog’s health and your wallet. It’s a major win-win!

The key is to know your dog. This means how your dog behaves and reacts on a normal day. Additionally, laying your hands on your dog and knowing where your dog is naturally sensitive is extremely important. 

For instance, my dog Henry loves massages and belly rubs. However, if he suddenly flinched or whimpered at a belly rub, it would be a major red flag for me. 

Thus, knowing your dog and his or her body is critical for knowing if your dog is sick. 

Are you looking for a vet? In this article, I share the critical points to look for and ask when interviewing a new vet. 

Of course, this isn’t an exclusive list, but it does include the most common cues and signs your dog will give you when you need to see your vet. 

When your dog has bad breath it could be a sign of a dental care issue. Left unattended it could lead to more issues, such as lack of appetite and weight loss, to name a few. 

This is very similar to the spray I currently use to clean Henry’s teeth. It not only cleans his teeth but freshens his breath. That’s a winning product!

This should be a huge neon red sign that your dog needs a vet. Bleeding can be a severe injury. 

However, if your dog just has a scrape, you may be able to apply basic first aid at home without seeing your vet. 

Although, if your dog is experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, which means you can’t stop the bleeding, then it’s definitely time to see an urgent care vet or your regular vet. Either way, you will probably want to at least touch base with your vet. 

For instance, when Henry was attacked by two large dogs. His eyelid was severed and bleeding. Additionally, he had puncture wounds on his face and throat. Of course, I didn’t think twice and rushed him to the veterinary emergency clinic. 

Want to learn the full details of Henry’s attack or how to handle such an event? In this article, I provide all the details. 

Often Henry will cough or gag after digging or drinking water quickly. This doesn’t bother me so much because this is his normal behavior. 

However, if he suddenly started coughing every time he ate or constantly, I’d call the vet. It could be a sign of kennel cough or even heart disease. 

If your dog’s stomach feels hard, bloated, or dissented, you may want to call your vet. 

However, if you know your dog and know he ate something different the previous day or was anxious, this may pass quickly. 

For example, when it’s windy or the weather is very bad, Henry has a tendency to hold his poop for a day. Thus, his stomach can feel full. But I don’t worry since I know this is his normal behavior. 

Do you know that pumpkin is a great health asset for your dog and your pocketbook? In this article, I break it all down. 

If your dog just got done playing hard and is drinking a lot of water, that is probably fine. However, if you have to fill your pup’s bowl a lot more than you used to do, then you may want to call your vet. It could be a sign of something more serious such as a bladder or even kidney infection. 

For example, Henry loves fresh water. So, when I clean his bowl in the morning, he’ll return to it multiple times rather quickly. That is his normal behavior. Additionally, I fill his bowl once a day. If he suddenly needed his bowl filled more often and he wasn’t more active and the temperature was high, I’d call the vet. 

Do you know that clean, fresh water can reduce your dog’s expenses? In this article, I share everything you need to know. 

If your non-drooling dog is suddenly drooling all over you, then it may be time to call the vet. It could be a sign of another health issue, such as a dental care problem or even kidney disease. 

For example, Henry knocked out one of his front teeth a couple of years ago. While he didn’t drool, he was eating a bit differently. Again, this all goes back to knowing what is normal for your dog. 

If you suddenly notice your dog’s eyes are cloudy, red, or excessively gooey, then it is probably time to call the vet. A change in eyes can be the start of blindness, glaucoma, or even diabetes. 

For example, Henry’s left tear duct was crushed when he was attacked by dogs a few years ago. That eye will often produce a very gooey discharge. I know this is normal for him. Thus, I’ve discovered ways to combat the issue with warm compresses. 

However, if he is holding his eye closed and not willing to open it, then I know there’s an issue. In fact, he recently saw the vet for this exact issue. 

NOTE: Never put drops or anything in your dog’s eyes without consulting your vet. If your dog has something in his or her eye or has scratched to eye, then drops could make it worse. 

Want to learn how simple dog eye care can cut your vet bills? In this article, I share the details.

If your dog is suddenly sneezing more, you may want to seek your vet’s advice for help. Your pup may have allergies or even a virus.

I know Henry will sneeze several times on his first visit outside each day. This is normal for him. Thus, I don’t worry about it. 

Of course, if your dog is struggling to breathe or having difficulty breathing, it’s a rush to the emergency veterinary clinic or even your vet. This could be the sign of multiple health issues including asthma or heart disease. 

This is a nightmare situation for a dog parent. But if you find your dog is unconscious, then you need to see the vet. Don’t stop at go, just go to the vet!

Often dogs will become lethargic due to any number of issues. 

For example, as Henry’s allergies or temperature rises, he becomes more lethargic. Or even if he’s played hard or had a panic attack, he’ll need time to recover. Although he does appear lethargic and much more sleepy, this is his normal. Thus, I don’t worry. 

If your dog suddenly starts favoring a leg or even limping, then you will want to seek your vet’s advice. 

For example, last year, Henry was bit by a red ant on the bottom of one of his paws. He limped on it for a couple of days until the pain subsided. 

Since I knew Henry’s behavior and recognized this as a sign of pain, I took him to the vet. He received pain reliever and anti-itch medication, which helped his recovery. 

Knowing how your dog’s fur feels is critical. Most dogs will have very soft fur. Of course, wire-haired dog’s fur is more rough. 

But if you notice a change in the texture, or there’s suddenly a patch of fur missing, then you may want to seek your vet’s help. It could be the sign of numerous health issues which can be more easily treated at the start. 

I’m always feeling Henry to make sure he doesn’t have any lumps or bumps. However, I did find one on him a couple of years ago which was suspicious. The vet looked at it and even took a biopsy. Thankfully, it was benign. 

However, if a lump or bump is not detected and grows unchecked, it could become a critical or even fatal issue for your dog. 

Henry at the vet and hoping to leave soon.
Henry looking to leave the vet’s office quickly.

If your dog doesn’t want to drink water, you’ve cleaned the bowl and surrounding area, then you will want to seek your vet’s advice. This could be anything from a stomach ache to a dental issue. 

For example, when Henry had a virus, he wouldn’t drink much. That’s always a red flag that he’s not feeling well. 

If your dog simply doesn’t want to eat, you will definitely want to call your vet. This could be a sign of a more serious issue than simply not liking the food. For example, it could be a virus, dental issue, or something more serious.

If your dog is whimpering in pain, then call your vet. There’s no telling what is causing the pain. It could be an easy fix such as a sticker in the paw, which you can remove. However, it could even be a broken bone. A whimpering dog in pain is a huge red flag you need a vet. 

If you suspect your dog’s broken a bone, then you definitely need to call your vet. A broken bone for your dog isn’t necessarily a fatal issue like with horses. But you do need to have it tended to in order to heal. Think if you had a broken bone and didn’t seek help. It would just hurt. No dog parent wants their pup in pain. 

Seeing your dog have a seizure is scary. There can be many reasons for a seizure from poisoning to epilepsy. Either way, you want to take your dog to the vet immediately. 

If you notice a change in your dog’s stool, that is out of the norm, such as worms, continuous diarrhea, bloody stools, or even straining, you’ll want to call your vet. Honestly, this can be a sign of various health issues. 

For example, several months ago Henry had bloody stools. It really scared me. I took him to the vet and he decided that Henry probably ate something he should’ve had when I wasn’t looking. As a result, Henry went on a probiotic and antibiotic for about a week and was then back to his normal self. 

Do you know the steps to reduce the cost of an emergency vet visit? In this article, I share what I did to help with Henry’s emergency vet clinic visit. 

You will need to call your vet if your dog is doing the bum drag. This could be the sign of full anal glands or even worms. Both are very treatable. 

However, you don’t want anal glands to become infected or abscessed, which is more painful for your dog and your wallet. 

If you see your dog is trying to pee, straining to pee, whimpering while peeing, or even has noticeable blood in his or her urine, call the vet immediately. This could be the sign of anything from a UTI to a tumor. 

Often licking is the sign of pain. For example, when Henry was bitten by the red ant, he licked his paw constantly because it hurt. 

Thus, if you notice your dog is licking more than normal, call your vet. 

If your dog never itches or scratches, but is suddenly itching every time you turn around it could be the sign of a skin issue, fleas, or even pain. Thus, it’s definitely time to call the vet for help.

If you have a calm, cool, and collected dog and suddenly notice he or she has become aggressive, this could be a red flag. 

Often aggression is a sign of pain. Additionally, it could be a thyroid or increased testosterone. 

Thus, if your dog has switched from a calm personality to an aggressive one, it’s time to call the vet. 

Want to learn more about why a dog could be aggressive? In this article, I share the science behind an aggressive pup. 

This honestly should go without saying. If your dog suddenly collapses or collapses and is non-responsive, rush to get your pup emergency care. 

While this could be dehydration, it could be something much more serious. 

For example, my dear friend’s dog last year collapsed on her morning walk. My friend raced to the nearest emergency veterinary care clinic. However, the little pup never recovered. It was discovered she had a hole in her heart that ruptured. 

Of course, if your dog collapses it may not be dire. But your dog does need medical care. 

As I stated earlier, if Henry became sensitive to a belly rub it would be a huge red flag that he’s in pain and need veterinary care. Thus, again knowing your dog is critical to knowing if you need a vet.

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, even accidentally, then rush to the medical emergency vet. Time can be a critical issue in these cases. 

Of course, this includes poisonous foods such as chocolate, onions, and garlic, to name a few.

You can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Although, note that it could cost up to $70. But still well worth it for the help in a dire situation. 

Also, you can often call your pet insurance 24/7 vet for help with poisoning. But you’ll need to check your policy for details.

For example, last year I gave Henry a Benadryl. Within 10-20 minutes he was unable to walk. I knew he had a severe reaction to the medication and I rushed him to the emergency vet care clinic. 

Want to learn more about Henry’s Benadryl allergy? In this article, I detail the episode. 

In your daily petting of your dog, if you notice his or her weight shape has changed suddenly, yet the food and activity levels are the same, call your vet. This could be an allergic reaction or something even more serious.

Do you know the perfect dog weight shape? In this article, I reveal what it is and how it saves you money. 

If your dog is unwilling to get up or move, then it’s probably a pain issue. Definitely call your vet for an immediate appointment.

If your dog has suddenly started vomiting, especially if there’s blood in the vomit, rush to your vet. This could be a toxic situation, obstruction, or something else.

For example, in the whole time I’ve had Henry, he’s only vomited twice. Both times he had a virus. Additionally, both times I took him to the vet for a diagnosis and care. 

Of course, if your dog is attacked by another dog, snake, or other wildlife, gather up your dog, try to stay calm, and head to the vet immediately. Such as when Henry was attacked by the two dogs.

Moreover, if your dog is bitten by a snake or other venomous wildlife, don’t allow your dog to move. This will help the venom from spreading more easily.

For example, a few years ago, a dear friend of mine was out hiking when her large 75 lb. pup was bitten three times by a rattlesnake. She carried the pup a mile to her car and rushed to the vet. The vet said that her quick actions and not allowing the dog to move much, saved his life. 

If you know your dog and feel something isn’t right, then by all means trust your instincts and call your vet. Your instincts are there for a reason. 

Do you know the red flags you get when it’s time to fire your vet? In this article, I provide the 15 most common signs you need a new vet.

Who doesn’t like a bonus, right? Here’s one brought to my attention by a loyal reader.

When your dog’s gums are pale it could be a sign of heart disease, anemia, parasites, shock, internal bleeding, or even dehydration. Thus, if your dog has pale gums it’s a great time to check in with your vet, discover the underlying reasons, and take the appropriate actions.

This can easily happen when you’re out camping or even traveling. There are a few options. 

Of course, it’s always a good idea to know first aid for your dog. 

You can take a pet first aid course online through the American Red Cross for only $25. Here’s a link to this online class.

For example, I called my vet for advice when I was out of town and Henry’s eye got worse. The vet talked me through what to do and he quickly recovered. 

You can also go virtual with a 24/7 vet. Sometimes they can give you great advice and calm your nerves. For example, Chewy offers a virtual online vet for $19.99. You can find the Chewy vet service here.

Often vet insurance will offer a 24/7 hotline for vet emergencies and help. You’ll need to check your policy to see if this is offered and find the proper number. 

Being proactive can prevent a more serious issue from developing. Thus, again knowing your dog is critical. 

For example, consider Henry’s lump biopsy. This was a proactive measure since the lump was super small. Thus, at that early stage, it’s much easier to treat, if needed rather than ignore it and allow it to grow and possibly interfere with his mobility or life. 

With this in mind, consider the following issues and expenses that may pop up if you don’t react to the signs your dog needs to see a vet.

Diabetics $480 – 4800/year
Glaucoma$1,600 – 2,000
Arthritis$200 – 2,500/month
Heart disease$500 – 10,000/year
Allergies$40 – 80/month
Dehydration$50 – 75
UTI$100 – 200
Cancer$10,000 – 30,000
Losing your furry friendIMMEASURABLE!!!

I always like being proactive. This means knowing what the status quo is so that I can easily recognize a red flag. While some dogs don’t exhibit a lot of pain, others will be more prone to whimper or cry when they’re in pain.

As for Henry, he rarely cries. Even when his eyelid was severed, he didn’t whimper. I was an internal mess, but he was calm and cool. Thus, I know he doesn’t exhibit pain. Therefore, I need to know his normal traits so I know what’s abnormal and when he needs a vet. This is great for Henry and actually saves me money for being proactive and not letting an issue go from a small hill to an enormous mountain. 

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6 thoughts on “33 Signs Your Dog Needs a Vet”

  1. You are so right! Knowing what’s different or not right is usually a good sign you want to get a dog checked out. You know what your ‘ordinary’ dog is like, playful, happy, ready to chase to out of the ordinary is a read flag. Trust your gut, trust any misgiving you have.

    Your list here is so comprehensive there are so many simple things you can check and see if they need checking out. Thank you!

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely correct that knowing what’s normal for your pup and pets, is critical. It makes it so much easier to know when something goes awry.

      I really appreciate your kind words and for always being so supportive.

      Reply
  2. Great post especially for a new dog owner. I keep a hawks eye on Layla all the time especially with her age but thank goodness since second opinion I am so relaxed here. It is a must for all pet parents to be aware of the points in your post as it will make life easier.

    Reply
    • Awe, thank you, Ruth! I’m so grateful you trusted your instincts got a second opinion for Layla. Pet parents should trust their gut and know what is normal for your pup.

      Thank you also for your continued support. I greatly appreciate it!

      Reply
  3. All excellent notes and things to lookout for that all dog caregivers should be aware of. I agree that we know our dogs and sometimes it is a “gut instinct” that tells us something is up. I’ve learned over the years to really listen to that voice, and thankfully I did as most of those times, something was up with one of my Huskies. I also checked them all the time for lumps and bumps! (Glad Henry’s is benign. Whew!) And, as always, the budget savings is always an eye opener. I totally agree with you about being proactive when it come to the care of our beloved pets. I’m definitely sharing this important info with my followers!

    Reply
    • Yes, exactly a “gut instinct” can really help with our pups and furry friends. I’m so glad you are enjoying the cost break out section. I really enjoy that part. It totally plays to my nerdy numbers side of me.

      Thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it!

      Reply

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