Just as the cooler months can leave us humans feeling under weather, the same can be said for our dogs. While feeling chilly is not the cause of contracting a viral infection, it can certainly lead to aches and pains that seem more pronounced in your pup over the season.

Regardless of your dog’s age or temperament, you play a crucial role in distinguishing the level of your dog’s health. As much as we’d love to have a reciprocated convo with our favourite fur-babies, they can’t describe their symptoms to us, so they resort to showing us with physical displays of illness. If you are noticing some unusual symptoms or behaviours in your pooch, it’s always advised to seek some veterinary guidance. You know your dog best, please trust your gut instinct.

Let’s talk about the top ten typical signs that your dog may be feeling unwell –

Excessive drooling or panting

A few common factors we see in dogs who present with excessive drooling or panting are pain, anxiety, tummy upsets and fever. While you can generally disregard heatstroke at this time of year, you’d be best to quickly investigate your dog’s health if you see these signs, as time is of the essence if poison or snake bites could be potential risk factors. If you can’t think of any reasonable explanations for your pooches increase in drooling/panting, get to your vet immediately.

Decrease in physical activity/changed sleeping patterns

There are numerous infections that will cause your pooch to show signs of lethargy, including basic tummy upsets, any disease that causes fever and the more serious diseases including heart disease and arthritis.

If your dog is behaving out of character and is sleeping more or refusing to participate in their usual, playful activities, this is certainly a red flag that your dog is unwell.

Decreased appetite

While seeing some changes in your dog’s appetite isn’t an instant reason for concern (after all, we all have hungry days and not so hungry days), you should certainly take note if the decrease shows alongside other symptoms or if your dog could normally chew the arm of your expensive lounge suite, and is now refusing to even look in their food bowl. You could be witnessing the symptoms of a simple gastro infection, all the way through to systemic infections, liver problems, kidney failure or even cancer to name a few.

Increased thirst or urination

If you’ve noticed your pooch drinking an awful lot or all of a sudden having accidents in the house, you could be witnessing the signs of a bladder infection, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or adrenal gland disease. On the common-sense side of the fence, have you recently changed their food, some cheaper lines have very high salt content for example.

On the flip side, drinking lots but not matching the input with output (not weeing much) could signal that your dog is suffering with stones in the bladder or a urinary tract issue. Both require further medical attention.

Bad breath or change in gum colour

We get it, Fido rarely has minty fresh breath. But if you have noticed a change in the odour or increased, foul smelling breath, it could be a sign that your dog isn’t well. Persistent bad breath can indicate issues with the mouth, teeth, gut, kidneys or other internal organs.

Similarly, change in colour to the gums or a slow return/refill to the gums when pressure is applied could be a sign of anything from infection, anaemia or poor blood pressure. You can read more about your dog’s dental health and signs to keep an eye out for in our recent Dental Health blog here.

Red or dry eyes

Red or goopy eyes could be the result of a variety of issues, from conjunctivitis to allergies, conditions like glaucoma or a foreign object, dry eye and entropion (rolled in eye lids) causing damage. Regardless of the reason, investigating and treating the cause of red or dry eyes is crucial to avoid any irreversible damage being done.

Upset tummy – vomiting or diarrhea

If your pup throws up but then continues on with usual eating regime and activity schedule, you’d be forgiven for putting it down to an isolated incident. If your pooch continues to vomit or exhibits loose stools excessively or over a period of time, something is definitely amiss and needs to be investigated further.  Some typical reasons for excessive vomiting or diarrhea include a gastro illness or parasitic infections like hookworm or roundworm.

Cold symptoms –

While the symptoms are similar to those you show when you have a cold, the viruses our dogs’ contract are different. They are however spread similarly, via contact with contaminated pooch-pals. Kennel cough is spread the same way, and while usually a fairly treatable illness in healthy dogs, can cause some worry and discomfort for puppies or certain breeds who have particularly short snouts like Boxers and Pugs. Persistent sneezing and coughing should certainly be investigated further, before it causes discomfort in your pet. We do vaccinate against 2 of the causes of kennel cough that can potentially cause serious or life-threatening disease. There are many other causes for respiratory diseases from viruses, bacterial, allergens and chemical irritants.


While your outside or aging pooch may struggle with general stiffness, aches and pains related to the cooler weather, it is crucial that we don’t ignore clear signs of arthritis. If you pet is finding it difficult to move about, has reduced their movement or activity or whimpers when they get about, you’d be best to check out our Signs of Arthritis in Dog’s quiz to evaluate the cause behind your pet’s stiffness. It can be difficult to identify symptoms of arthritis in your dog, but answering these simple questions may help you to better understand your pet’s health and the necessary measures to take to improve their lifestyle. Remember you don’t have to be old to have arthritis, young dogs can be affected by hip, elbow shoulder or stifle dysplasia. The earlier the intervention the better the chance of a positive outcome.

While one or two of these symptoms may be put down to a simple explanation like aging or a change in diet, it is always best to analyse your pet’s health with objective eyes and seek medical advice if you are concerned. If you’d like to make an appointment at Direct Vet Services to discuss your dog’s health and wellbeing this Winter, you can book via our online appointment system or drop us a line on 03 9369 1822.