how do dogs act when they sense illness

how do dogs act when they sense illness


How Do Dogs Act When They Sense Illness?


As a caregiver, you might often wonder about the uncanny ability of your furry friend to sense when something is not quite right with your health. Dogs, being highly intuitive creatures, are known for their keen sensitivity towards their human companion’s emotional and physical health.

1. Unusual Clinginess

Your normally independent dog might suddenly become a velcro dog, sticking close to you more than usual. You might find him following you around, constantly seeking your touch, or curling up next to you. This sudden change in behavior could be your dog’s way of expressing concern and providing comfort.

Normal Behavior Behavior When Sensing Illness
Independent Clingy
Aloof Seeking constant touch
Loves personal space Constantly near you

2. Changes in Activity Level

If your dog is typically playful but suddenly becomes lethargic and disinterested in his favorite toys, it could be a sign that he’s picking up on something amiss with your health. On the other hand, a usually calm dog might become agitated or restless.

3. Alterations in Sleeping Patterns

Your dog might start waking up in the middle of the night or have trouble settling down to sleep. This could be due to heightened anxiety as he senses your health issue.

4. Excessive Licking or Sniffing

Dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell. They may sniff or lick certain areas of your body excessively, particularly if that area is where the health issue lies. For instance, some dogs have been known to detect cancerous tumors by persistently sniffing at the affected area.

5. Changes in Eating Habits

Your dog might start refusing food or eating less than usual. This could be a sign of stress related to your health problem. Alternatively, some dogs might start eating more, possibly as a coping mechanism.


1. Can dogs really sense illness?

Yes, dogs have been known to sense illness in humans due to their keen senses and strong bond with their human companions.

2. What should I do if my dog is showing these behaviors?

If you notice these behaviors in your dog, it’s important to pay attention to your own health. It might be a good idea to schedule a check-up with your doctor.

3. Are all dogs capable of sensing illness?

While all dogs have a strong sense of smell and intuition, some dogs might be more attuned to their owners’ health than others. It can also depend on the individual bond between the dog and its owner.

4. Can dogs sense mental health issues too?

Yes, dogs are known to pick up on emotional distress and changes in their owner’s mental health, such as depression or anxiety.

5. Should I rely solely on my dog to alert me about my health?

While dogs can be incredibly perceptive, they should not replace regular health check-ups and consultations with your healthcare provider.