Warning Signs in Dogs
Understanding which ones to watch for could literally save your dog’s life

Warning signs in dogs are very easy to identify in most every case if you know what to look for.

Most of these signs are very serious symptoms that should never be ignored, even if you think they are just temporary, a stage that your dog is going through, or some type of a behavior issue.

In several of these cases they may be the first signs that you will see as an owner that your dog may have or may be developing a very serious illness.

In other cases, these early warning signs may lead to a life threatening situation if they are not caught and treated as quickly as possible.

There is no one, including your veterinarian, that knows and understands your dogs every move and action better than you.


Breathing Problems

One of the first of the warning signs in dogs will be any type of a breathing problem that may be slow in developing, or one that seems to hit almost overnight.

The most common breathing problem is referred to as dyspnea, and this is a situation where your dog will have both a labored as well as a difficult time in breathing.

Husky eyesUnderstanding the warning signs in dogs may save their life

However, this condition can also cause a shortness of breath to occur which may be slightly more difficult to spot at first.

Any of these signs can develop when your dog tries to breathe, including inhaling and exhaling.

If your dog is having problems breathing, it will also affect the tissues of their body as they will not be getting enough oxygen.

Dyspnea may also be the result of edema, which is fluid in the lungs or the chest area.

This buildup of fluid can very easily lead to coughing, which is the worst sound you can ever hear from your dog.


The next of the warning signs in dogs is coughing, and anytime you hear this sound from your dog other than an occasional cough from eating or drinking to fast, take it extremely serious.

Coughing itself is a natural reflex that your dog will make that will clear any type of an object or a secretion from their throat, voice box, or their airway, and it naturally protects their lungs from any type of aspiration.

However, when you dog coughs, it can also easily affect their respiratory system and as a result, they cannot breathe normally.

Coughing can be the first sign you have that your dog may have bronchitis, pneumonia, or something even more sinister, heartworm disease.


Fevers are also one of the real warning signs in dogs and are technically defined as an abnormally high body temperature that is the result of your dog’s internal immune system reacting to something.

It is widely held in the medical community that fevers in dogs is their immune system fighting an infection.

The normal temperature of your dog should be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees, and if goes beyond this metric, something is very wrong.

Unlike children, dogs will hardly ever develop a fever, so when they do, something is not right and it should be checked as quickly as possible.

Pacing and Restlessness

These warning signs in dogs can also include what would be defined as an unproductive retching motions and is usually the first sign you see with a condition that can very easily kill your dog; bloat.

Bloat is much more common in large breeds of dogs or breeds that have a large or deep chest, and if your dog does suddenly start to pace and become extremely restless, react as quickly as you can.

If you have a breed that fits into this description and they also retch their body and try to vomit but cannot, it is now an emergency and your dog may not survive without professional medical treatment.

Red Eyes

Red eyes in dogs are also real warning signs and can be the result of several types of diseases that can affect any portion of their eye including their conjunctiva, cornea, or their sclera.

It may also be the result of high pressure within their eye which is known as glaucoma, as well as diseases that affect their eye socket itself.


Red eye normally only affects one eye, but it can affect both eyes. If it is serious enough and it not treated, your dog can lose their sight.

Urinating and Drinking Excessively

This is one of the real serious warning signs in dogs as it is almost always a very serious and sinister disease that is the cause.

The potential diseases include diabetes, thyroid problems, and the most threatening of all the disease to dogs; kidney failure.

The average size dog, about 30 to 40 pounds, will drink between two and three cups of water each day, or about 30 milliliters per pound of body weight.

If they suddenly start to drink a lot more than this, do not ignore it, as it is anything but normal and you need to have them examined as soon as possible.

Collapsing or Fainting

These warning signs are also referred to as acute collapse where your dog will suddenly lose their balance as well as their strength.

Once they do fall, this will be very frightening to both you and your dog as in most cases they will not be able to get back up immediately.

In some cases they may lose consciousness, or even worse, go into a seizure.

If they lose consciousness, this is referred to as syncope and some dogs can recover very quickly, while other dogs make take several minutes to hours to recover.

Once the first episode occurs, it is time to have your dog checked as quickly as you can.

Bruising and Bleeding

These warning signs in dogs should never be ignored as something is definitely wrong with them.

In fact, most owners would be extremely hard pressed to even think of one time their dog bleed or was bruised, as it is very uncommon.

It is almost always associated with a slow or rapidly developing problem with your dog not being able to coagulate blood properly, or clot their blood.

This failure to clot may affect the surface of their skin, their mucous membranes, as well as several internal organs.

The effects on your dog may be very mild, or it could be dramatic; but it is again a real warning sign that something is wrong.

Distended Abdomen

This is a condition where your dog’s abdomen has become abnormally enlarged, and it most cases it is not the result of obesity, although it can be.

However, in most cases it is the result of an accumulation of fluid in your dog’s abdomen or the result of a problem with one of their internal organs.

This is another condition that should never be ignored as it can affect your dog’s liver, spleen, as well as their kidneys and can very easily develop into a life threatening situation.

Bloody Diarrhea or Urine

These warning signs in dogs are very serious as stools that are black and tarring suggest that there is fresh blood in your dog’s feces. This is extremely abnormal as is blood in the urine.

Blood in the urine is the first indication that your dog may have kidney stones, a urinary tract infection, or some type of a bacterial infection.

However, it may also be the first signs of cancer.


There are other warning signs in dogs and they include loss of appetite, a slow or very rapid loss of weight, as well as Jaundice, which is the buildup of bilirubin.

Bilirubin is a substance that comes from your dogs red blood cells and there are several potential causes and none of them are normal.

Bite wounds and a sudden lethargy or weakness are also real warning signs.

However, all of these signs have one thing in common with the others; they should never be ignored.

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