How to tell if your dog is feeling under the weather

As energetic and loving as your dog may be, it may not be spritely and playful all the time.
Read on for more information about how to identify and understand the indicators that could mean all is not well with your dog’s physical or mental condition.

If a vet’s health check does not find any physical reason for your pet’s change in behaviour or lack of vitality, then you may want to ask your vet to see if the cause might be stress or anxiety related. Illnesses can manifest itself with some very subtle signs, so it’s important that you check with a vet first, to rule physical ailments out. 

Behavioural conditions in dogs should not necessarily be confused with the illnesses that humans experience, as they can be very different to human depression. However, there can also be similarities in some of the common symptoms, including a loss of vitality or a preference to be alone. The important thing is to look out for any noticeably negative change in your pet’s behaviour.

Why is your dog behaving differently?

There are a few possible causes for your dog’s behavioural changes, some of which are more obvious than others. Every dog is different and experiences or lifestyle changes that don’t bother one dog could deeply affect another.

Anxiety can be brought on by changes in the home, such as an owner working longer hours, the arrival of a new baby or the death of another pet. However, anything else that disrupts your dog’s schedule or means that it receives less fuss and attention than usual could also make it feel stressed or displaced.

Most dogs will improve as they adapt to a new situation or routine but it is always a good idea to give your dog some extra love and attention if you feel it might be adversely affected by a change.  

Signs that your dog may be feeling stressed

Now that you know some of the causes, it’s important to know what the signs are that your dog is despondent. You should be wary about diagnosing your pet as having ‘the blues’ because there are several symptoms that could also have a physical cause, so it’s important to get your dog checked over by the vet in the first instance. However, sometimes seemingly healthy dogs can exhibit odd behaviours, which could be the result of an environmental issue.

Here are a few potential symptoms that something is the matter with your dog’s mental state:
Compulsive licking

One of the most noticeable signs of loneliness in dogs is excessive licking. As you probably know, licking is a normal sign of affection in dogs, but if your pet seems to be compulsively licking everything and everyone, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Sometimes, when a dog is uncomfortable or anxious, licking can show up as a compulsive behaviour. 

Sleeping patterns have altered 

Dogs will often experience changes in their sleeping patterns and habits if they are stressed. Unhappy dogs will often lack energy and will sleep more than usual. This may involve sleeping longer at night or sleeping more often during the day.

Avoiding your company

Have you noticed your dog hiding from you or avoiding your company? Before you jump to conclusions, check that your pet is not physically injured, as animals will sometimes hide when they experience physical pain or injury. If your dog is not injured or showing any signs of physical discomfort, they may be seeking isolation because they are anxious, stressed or feeling displaced.

Loss of appetite

Changes in appetite can also be a sign that all is not well. The amount your dog eats can be an indicator of general wellbeing. If you notice that your dog has either started eating much more than usual or significantly less, that could be a cause for concern. Again, ask your vet to check for any physical conditions that could be causing this or ask them if they think the issue could be linked to general wellbeing. But if you can’t wait for an appointment at the vet’s and think the situation might be more serious, as a MORE TH>N customer you can simply contact vetfone for swift and expert advice - lines are open 24 hours, seven days a week. 
When you call, you’ll be connected to a fully trained vetfone nurse who will assess the situation through a series of questions, identify any severe symptoms in your pet’s behaviour and will advise on any steps that should be taken.


Another sign that your dog might not be feeling its usual happy self, is if it’s less eager to go for a walk, play catch or to roam happily around the garden, or suddenly disinterested in toys, car rides and other activities they used to enjoy.  

Remember, you know your dog better than anyone because you live with it. You would soon know if a human partner was unhappy for some reason because he or she would soon let you know! A dog can’t express its feelings in the same way so the signs that something is wrong will be subtler and you need to watch for any behaviour in your pooch that you consider to be out of character. 

Remedying these behaviours in a dog should not be difficult. It might just require allotting some extra time for play, increasing the length of walks to tire you both out, finding a more suitable place in the house for the dog to retreat to when the children are being excessively noisy or just giving it some extra attention and plenty of fuss.  

Take a look here for ideas on how to can keep your dog engaged and happy. 

If you are worried about anything relating to your dog’s health MORE TH>N pet insurance customers can reach out to vetfone for free professional advice, 24 hours a day. You will be able to speak with a qualified RCVS veterinary nurse who can assess your dog’s symptoms and offer guidance on the next steps to take. 

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