Infection in Dogs: Recognizing Dog Infection Symptoms

Medical articles
black lab licking mouth

No one knows your pet better than you do. That is why paying attention to what’s normal and what isn’t is so important. Little changes in your dog’s behavior, in how they move, and even in how they smell might just indicate something icky is brewing inside. 

While regular veterinary exams and diagnostics, such as blood work, can catch many things, your veterinarian relies on you and your family for the best intel on your pet’s health changes. 

Does My Dog Have an Infection? Recognizing Dog Infection Symptoms 

Here are a few signs that your dog may be harboring an infection. Be sure to alert your veterinarian if you notice any of these changes: 

Do You Smell That? Detecting Dog Infections Through Scent 

If your dog’s “smells” begin to change, it could be sign of something serious. This can range from: 

  • Terrible breath 

  • Unusually smelly urine or feces 

  • General body odor (such as your pet’s coat) 

While some scents can change due to diet or environment, this is definitely something you want to take note of. 

Behavioral Changes Can be a Symptom 

Have you noticed a shift in their general attitude? Pet parents report their dog’s personality taking a hit when they are feeling under the weather. Such changes consist of: 

  • Hiding or isolation 

  • Sudden development of new fears 

  • Paying much attention to (looking, licking, etc.) to any part of the body 

  • Lethargy 

  • Dullness of response to you or day-to-day life 

  • Blank stare 

Unusual Noises and Vocalizations 

Some dogs really like to talk and be vocal! Others, not so much. You know your dog and how they communicate with you. If they are performing unusual vocalizations it can be indicative of something gone awry. 

Other types of sounds can highlight health issues, as well. If you hear sudden, excessive gurgling during digestion or airy/explosive sounds while going to the bathroom (either way) – we recommend talking with your veterinarian. 

Swelling: A Visible Sign of Dog Infections 

Infections can lead to inflammation on the skin, near joints, or inside your dog’s mouth. If there is swelling of the mouth, you should also pay attention to any color changes. Pale gums are commonly an important sign that something serious may be happening and you should get your pet to the vet as quickly as possible. 

Infections Can Cause Pain and Discomfort 

If you noticed your dog moving differently or with difficulty, it could be a sign that they are experiencing pain with movement. Keep an eye out for: 

  • Sudden stiffness 

  • Trouble rising 

  • Avoidance of stairs 

In any case, it is best to follow your gut if you notice any of the signs above. Reach out to your veterinarian for any questions or concerns regarding your fur baby. 

Some Common Dog Infections You Might See 

Dog Skin Infections 

Skin infections in dogs manifest through a variety of symptoms that may be easily observed by vigilant pet owners. These include persistent itchiness, rashes, loss of hair, and an unpleasant odor emanating from the skin or coat. It is crucial to recognize these signs promptly as they often signal the need for medical intervention. 

These symptoms are more than just cosmetic concerns; they're windows into your dog's health, signaling potential bacterial invasions, fungal overgrowth, parasitic infestations, or even hidden allergies. Ignoring these pleas can lead to the infection spreading, deepening, and impacting your dog's overall well-being. 

Bacterial Infections 

Bacterial infections, particularly Leptospirosis, pose significant risks to canine health. Leptospirosis is typically contracted through exposure to contaminated water sources or contact with the urine of infected animals.  

Early signs of Leptospirosis can be subtle, like a mild fever, decreased appetite, or a change in energy levels. These symptoms might easily be mistaken for an off day or a minor dietary indiscretion. However, if left untreated, the infection can progress to more serious issues like kidney damage, liver failure, or even respiratory distress. 

While Leptospirosis grabs the spotlight, other bacterial foes like Staphylococcus and E. coli can also cause skin infections, urinary tract issues, and even pneumonia in pups. Remember, early vet care is key for any suspicious symptoms.  

Kennel Cough 

Kennel cough is another common contagious infection in dogs, especially in environments where dogs congregate. Characterized by a persistent, harsh cough, it can be transmitted via airborne droplets from infected dogs. Vaccination plays a pivotal role in prevention, alongside maintaining good hygiene practices in kennels and dog parks. 

Preventive Measures for Infections in Dogs  

Keeping your dog healthy isn't about fancy battles or invisible shields. It's about building a strong foundation of basic care that helps them fight off common infections. Here's how: 

Good Food 

Ditch the generic kibble and choose a balanced diet with fresh ingredients like vegetables, lean protein, and antioxidant-rich treats. These provide essential nutrients their immune system needs to stay strong and tackle everyday germs. 

Regular Exercise 

Just like us, dogs need daily activity. Walks, playtime, and even backyard zoomies keep their immune system in top shape, helping them handle everyday germs and prevent minor infections from becoming bigger problems. 

Early Checkups 

Don't wait for obvious trouble. Regular vet visits are crucial for catching potential infections early, before they turn into more serious issues. A slight limp, a change in appetite, or frequent coughing can be early signs of trouble. Addressing these early helps your vet keep things under control and prevent infections from spreading. 

Essential Vaccinations 

Vaccinations are the most effective way to protect your dog from several serious and potentially life-threatening infections, including parvovirus and distemper. They work by training their immune system to recognize and fight off these specific diseases. 

These simple steps might not sound exciting, but they're the most effective way to keep your dog healthy and protected from a range of infections. A well-nourished, active pup with regular checkups and vaccinations is far more likely to enjoy a long, healthy life full of tail wags and adventures. So, focus on the daily essentials, make healthy choices, and build a strong foundation for your furry friend's well-being! 

Proactive Planning: Preparing for Canine Health Concerns 

Even the most vigilant pup parents can't completely shield their furry companions from every sniffle and scratch. Dog infections, though often preventable, can sometimes surprise even the healthiest of pups. And while we do everything we can to keep them safe, being prepared for the unexpected is just as important. 

That's where health insurance for your dog becomes your shield. Imagine tackling an infection without financial anxieties weighing you down. Embrace gives you the freedom to focus solely on your pup's recovery, and not about whether you can afford the treatment they need. Explore our plans and see how we can become your partner in protecting their well-being, every sniffle and wag along the way. 

Trust Your Gut, Protect Your Pup 

No one knows your dog better than you. You see their playful zoomies, hear their happy barks, and smell their doggy aroma. But beyond the tail wags and snuggles, you're also their first line of defense against the whispers of illness. 

Paying attention to those subtle changes – the shift in behavior, the unusual odor, the lack of their usual spark – is key. These signs of infection in dogs, if caught early, can lead you and your veterinarian to a swift diagnosis and treatment plan, nipping infections in the bud before they blossom into something bigger. 

Remember, dog infections, while sometimes sneaky, are rarely invincible. Armed with knowledge, vigilance, and a proactive approach, you can build a fortress of well-being for your furry friend. A balanced diet, regular exercise, routine checkups, and timely vaccinations act like layers of armor, strengthening their internal defenses and giving them the tools to fight off those unwelcome invaders. 

But ultimately, it's your gut instinct that matters most. Don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian if something feels off, even if it seems like a small thing. By taking action early, you can ensure that your dog's future is full of playful zoomies, happy barks, and the sweet, familiar scent of a healthy, happy pup.