4 min read


Can Dogs Tell if You are Ill?



4 min read


Can Dogs Tell if You are Ill?


A teenage girl stayed home from school with a terrible headache. The family pet stayed by her side all day. The dog would move only to eat and to go outside to toilet. Every time they were checked on, the dog was found lying beside her. The dog would look up with pleading eyes as if asking to make her feel better. 

The next day, she felt better, and it was as if the dog knew she was recovering. That sweet dog helped her through a very hard day, offering comfort and protection. We never have to ask our dogs to provide us with this gift. Our dear pets just do it naturally, out of a precious bond and compassion for our family members.


Signs Your Dog Knows You are Ill

Our dogs may not be able to talk to us but they can tell us they love us in many ways. Just as we show love to one another with simple things, eye contact, physical touch, and kind acts, so does the dog. Dogs are attuned to human behavior cues, such as facial expression, intonations, hand signals, and body tension. 

In the language of dog, they communicate to us and one another with their body signs. Pay attention to your dog. You can tell your dog's reactions by watching their body posture, fur, ears, eyes, tail, and behavior.

Dogs show they love us by being near us. They will stare at us with pleading and loving eyes. Our smell is most appealing to them, and they will find items in the house that smell like us for comfort. 

Does your dog get excited when you come home at night? The excitement is a sign of love. Your dog is happy to see you. You may even find your dog smiling, jumping and wagging their tail vigorously. A part of your loving relationship may involve some walks and outdoor romping in which your dog jumps and runs, inviting you to play.

Recent studies are showing that dogs will lift their left eyebrow when they see someone they love. They will also move the left ear back. Dogs love to be near their owners. They will lean on you because you make them feel safe and secure. 

Your yawns are contagious with your dog. Scientists believe that when your dog yawns with you, this is a sign of empathy in the dog. If your dog is stealing your clothes and laying on them, it is out of love and the security your scent communicates. Just as your dog may make you feel safe and secure, your presence makes your dog feel secure in return.

Because dogs are so in tune with us, it is no wonder that they sense when something is "off" about us. Your dog will probably give you more attention when you are ill, and they will likely not leave your side. 

Body Language

Signs your dog may show when you are ill include:

  • Staring
  • Jumping Up
  • Wag Tail
  • Sniffing
  • Licking

Other Signs

More signs that your dog knows you aren't feeling well are:

  • Lifting The Left Eyebrow Is A Sign Of Affection
  • Leaning On You For Comfort
  • Yawning In The Dog Is A Sign Of Empathy
  • Not Leaving Your Side

The History of Dogs Knowing When We are Ill


Dogs and humans have formed a bond over centuries of evolution. It all began with friendly wolves and a shared need for survival. The dog has evolved to understand human behavior. They have developed the cognitive powers to read human signals and words. They learn our routines. 

Dogs are also sensitive to changes in our body chemistry. They can read our faces and interpret our emotions by our vocalizations. Studies have shown that dogs make people healthier, both physically and emotionally. People who live with dogs have lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, lower cholesterol, and stronger immune systems than persons who do not own dogs. 

Children who are raised with dogs often have more empathy than other children. People who own dogs make friends easier than people who do not own pets. They make us our better selves. And, yes, they can tell when we are sick. Our best friend and protector - their very presence in our lives makes us healthier and betters humankind.

The Science of Dogs Knowing We are Ill


We might want to believe that our health is something private. Sometimes we can't even tell when we are coming down with something. Our dogs are attentive in ways that are not even detectable to us. Dogs have a strong sense of smell. They can sense changes in our scent that are clear signals of illness. 

For example, your breath may be different when you are ill. There are changes in our hormones that are associated with illness. Persons with cancer have specific changes in their body chemistry that dogs will notice. 

Just as we can tell if the dog is acting lethargic, the dog can tell when you have changes in your behavior. When it comes to having comfort, your furry friend is likely to be better for you than a bowl of chicken noodle soup, as they act as your loving protector and companion.

Training Your Dog to Know When You are Ill


Your dog is going to love you and be loyal to you by nature. While you do not need to train them to know you are sick - because they do this all on their own - you may want to reinforce their care for you. This will ensure that every time you are feeling under the weather, your pooch will be right there giving you the love you need.

Start by never turning your pup away from you - even when you're feeling yucky. If they feel they are uninvited when you are sick, they will not hang close by as they think you do not want them there.

Instead, encourage them to come to you and give them affection even when you do not feel like it. Go a step further and give your dog treats for coming and checking on you when you are ill. You can also set up a little bed area for your pup close to where you are laying (or just scoop them up and cuddle them - it's your call!)

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Tips for Taking Care of Your Dog's Health:

  1. Provide appropriate shelter for your dog.
  2. Give your dog a safe place to sleep.
  3. Teach your dog to be calm when you are not home.
  4. Teach family members how to care and interact with your dog.

By a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake

Published: 06/12/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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