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My Dog is ADR - What Causes This?


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You have probably had a time when you just know your dog is not feeling well. Maybe their behavior has changed, their appetite is off, or their activity level is different. You are not quite sure exactly what's going on, but you just know your dog “Ain't Doing Right.” ADR is a term clinicians use in veterinary school and veterinarians use within their practices when dog owners come to them and let them know about simple symptoms that could be a common cold or something more serious. Without proper testing and examinations, there is no diagnosis. There is just the agreement that the dog is not feeling well. There are some common causes of ADR in dogs. Your veterinarian may want to do an examination and possibly even perform some tests such as a complete blood count for a more complete diagnosis.

Dental Pain and Disease

Periodontitis is a painful condition that includes periodontal disease, in which your dog's gums are tender, swollen, and potentially bleeding. As periodontal disease progresses, your dog could not only lose teeth, but could also lose bone within the jaw line. Unless you are brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis and examining their gums and mouth, you may not know your dog has a dental disease. However, your dog could become lethargic, grumpy, or experience a loss of appetite. They could have a desire to eat, but the inability to do so because of mouth pain.


Arthritis is typically a degenerative disease. Arthritis often takes time to build and cause pain, usually before owners realize what's happening with their dog. If your dog is tired and listless or lethargic and unwilling to play as they used to, they may have arthritis. Aching in the bones and joints typically makes dogs not want to move around a whole lot. Your dog may want to sleep more during the day, and they may not feel well overall. Diagnostic testing and potentially x-rays from your veterinarian will help with an arthritis diagnosis. However, until those steps are completed, your dog might show signs that they just don't feel well.


Cancer is rather common in older dogs and includes symptoms that are common in other conditions and diseases as well. It is important if you suspect your dog is showing signs of ADR to have them seen by your veterinarian and diagnosed. Symptoms of cancer can also include lethargy and loss of appetite, as well as weight loss. Cancer can occur in any bone, tissue or organ within your dog's body. Diagnostic testing and blood work will determine if your dog potentially has cancer or needs biopsy testing to further diagnosis.

Gastrointestinal Issues

If your dog's tummy is upset, lying around might be all your pooch wants to do. Lethargy and loss of appetite, or even vomiting and diarrhea, might be signs that something is not quite right. However, because those signs and symptoms cross the board for other conditions as well, it is best to see your veterinarian for a complete diagnosis. Gastrointestinal issues could be cured within a few days after the stomach has cleared itself of contents that are upsetting, or there could be different problems that stem from more serious gastrointestinal diseases.

A General Description for General Symptoms

Because there are so many signs and indicators that match symptoms from one condition to another, when you take your dog to your veterinarian to be seen, they may mark your dog as ‘ADR’ on their chart. The term ADR simply means “Ain't Doing Right” and is used across the industry of veterinary medicine to communicate that the dog has widespread symptoms that could relate to multiple disorders and generally does not feel well. Many pet owners know their dogs so well that the slightest change in behavior, such as skipping a meal or not chasing after a ball, is enough to tell their pup is feeling down. These are simple signs of ADR. Your dog may feel better in a day or two, or they may require a visit to your veterinarian.

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