The Book

Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

When you’re sick, you feel it. When your loved one is sick, you hear about it. When your dog is sick, you need to see it.


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them.

You will learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog has won the following awards:

2017 Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America

STW4_slider1People often say what a pity it is that our dogs cannot tell us when they’re not feeling well, they cannot tell us when they are sick. But they can, and they do. We just need to know how to listen. Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog will teach you how to see and interpret the signs.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog

Does your dog seem under the weather? Not being their usual happy, active self? Is your dog having diarrhea? Vomiting? Drinking more? Eating less?  Seeking isolation?

I remember the day of Jasmine’s neck disaster … Around noon she got up … and just stood there. There was nothing identifiable, nothing I could name or put my finger on. But everything about her looked wrong. She stood there, then took a couple of steps backward and stood there some more. I convinced her to lay back down. I had no idea what I was looking at, but I KNEW something was very wrong. I got on the phone with our vet to make sure he could see us later in the day in case things still weren’t right … later that day it became obvious that there was something very wrong with Jasmine. I called the vet, describing what I was seeing as “something being wrong with Jasmine all over the place.” We knew that the previously found—but quiet anatomical abnormalities—in Jasmine’s neck were a ticking bomb. That day the bomb went off …

“Learning about your dog and understanding them is the biggest responsibility and one not to be taken lightly. Only you, as their protector, can provide them with all they need to reach a full and joyful life.
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an excellent guide to understanding your dog. All the questions that you should be asking as an owner and all the things that should be observed on a daily basis. This book will help you to “REALLY” get to know your dog and understand any change in their daily behaviours that could signify some change in their health.
I have known Jana for several years and she is a wealth of knowledge, an immensely intuitive person and an outstanding advocate for dog health. Every pet owner should have this book!”

~Laurel Dutrisac, registered veterinary technician,
certified canine rehabilitation practitioner

STW4_slider2Stories like this are why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog

Miku is seven-years-old Akita. She was not spayed. Her last heat cycle seemed to have lasted longer than expected and she wasn’t interested in her food. Her owner was unconcerned. Then, Suki was becoming more and more lethargic. Her owner was unconcerned. It wasn’t until Suki wouldn’t come out of her dog house at all when her owner was finally convinced something was not right. Suki got care at the eleventh hour. Suki had pyometra. (Read Suki’s whole story here)

Tosha ended up in an emergency a day after she started limping on her hind leg. She came with a sore leg after a dash around the house where there was something urgent to bark at. Because it was a hind leg, it was easy to assume she injured her knee ligament. As time went on, not only was Tosha limping but she also became very quiet and uninterested in her normal activities. Further investigation revealed hot swelling up on the leg. Tosha suffered a snake bite. (Read Tosha’s whole story here)

After his final shots, Kolchak seemed subdued and under the weather. The veterinarian attributed it to hot weather and the vaccinations and kept dismissing owner’s concerns that something wasn’t right with Kolchak but his problems kept coming back. Kolchak had periods of coughing and not feeling well. Until Kolchak started refusing his food too. When Kolchak ended up at an ER vet, he was suffering from chronic bronchitis. (Read Kolchak’s whole story here)

My Dawg Business blog and Dog Health Issues FB group are full of stories like these. Whether the problem is missing early subtle signs or frustration with a veterinarian, being a health advocate for your dog involves both. Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog aims to teach you both.


Check out Symptoms to Watch For in Your Dog, written by a friend of the Fergus Veterinary Hospital, Jana Rade. We advised and helped with a few ideas. Even Nigel was reading it.

“Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a valuable addition to a dog owners’ library and a big help to ensure that dogs receive timely medical care. At the other end of the leash from the dog is a human. Humans are the gatekeepers of their dogs’ health. The more aware they are of their needs, the better off the dogs will be. The experiences of a dog owner who has been through many health issues with their dogs can help guide others towards getting appropriate care for their dogs. An average dog owner may only have 1, 2 or 3 dogs in their entire lives. Knowing what is normal and abnormal can take exposure to hundreds of dogs. This book helps fill in that missing experience.”

~Dr. Rae Worden – Fergus Veterinary Hospital

“Jana is a passionate dog mom. Her passion for her dogs has turned her pet parenting into a quest to understand and assist them at every turn of their ever-evolving medical needs. Jana has become a learned student of pet nutrition, orthopedics, training, behavior, and all things dog. She has assimilated her experiences into a book to help other dog lovers learn about how to best care for their dogs. Her no-frills, straight-talk advice is easy to read, pet parent-friendly and simplifies the often overly superfluous scientific jargon that is difficult to process into accessible, meaningful and helpful dog health information. It is through her years of research, personal experience and dedication to her Rottie kids that the rest of the pet parents around the world will benefit.”

Dr. Krista Magnifico – Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Pawbly
and Owner at Jarrettsville Vet Center


Praise for Symptoms to Watch in Your Dog

“Life just became easier for dog owners/parents. Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog truly leaves no stone unturned and more importantly, teaches HOW to advocate for your dog. Knowledge is power, and this important new book provides the tools to “read” their dogs and get them to the Vet pronto when necessary. All the tools are there. Symptoms to Watch For in your Dog flows in a logical easy to read format, both instructive and exhaustively thorough. Every pet owner, indeed every Dog Behavior Consultant, will want this book. Practicing the latter Profession for years taught me that dog illness was very frequently at the root of a change in behavior. I applaud Jana Rade, an expert in all matters of dog health, for concisely and succinctly making important information available to pet owners in Symptoms to Watch For in Your Dog. I’ve know Jana for years via Social Media, and it has been my pleasure to preview the outstanding Symptoms to Watch For.”

~Leslie Clifton – PMCT (Pat Miller Certified Trainer)
CPDT-KA (Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed )
Dog Behavior Consultant

“In her quest to learn everything possible about dog health, Jana Rade has become a master at detecting symptoms that need to be addressed by a veterinary healthcare professional. Her book is a valuable resource for canine parents everywhere. Take comfort that she will be your guiding light in identifying, understanding and assessing problem areas. Your dog’s well-being depends on it.”

~Susan E. Davis – PT Animal Physical Therapist and Author

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an excellent guide for first-time or long-time dog lovers. I’ve had a dog in my life since I was born. I’ve written about veterinary medicine and pet care for many years, and I still learned new things – especially about dog poop. Do yourself and your dog a favor. Read this book.”

~Roxanne Hawn – author of Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate and dog blog Champion of My Heart

“Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog is an eye-opening journey through the veterinary system and how it affects your dog’s health. It demonstrates the realities and importance of taking control of your dog’s medical care. This book is a must-read for those who love their pets and wish to take a pro-active and productive role in their dog’s physical well-being.”

~Norma Jeanne Laurette – IPDTA-CDT, Dog Trainer/Behaviour Therapist & Author

“The knowledge Jana Rade has acquired through her years of owning dogs and communicating with dog owners in social media has given her unique insight as to what pet owners worry about. Symptoms to Watch For in Your Dog can help you to not only figure out when to seek out treatment but also how to choose a veterinarian who will communicate with you in a way that makes you feel comfortable, and that addresses your concerns. This book has made being a dog parent so much easier. Even with my 20+ years as a dog owner and member of the veterinary community, I found the book helpful in so many areas. Dog parents should add this book to their arsenal for care for their dog.”

~ Kristi Hauta – Former Veterinary Technician and Practice Manager

“Dogs love us in amazing ways. My own dogs show me this every day. But our faithful family members can’t tell us what is wrong when they’re not feeling well. That’s why this book is so important. With solid advice such as which symptoms you should never ignore, and how to tell when your dog is in pain, this thorough book is a must-have resource for every pet parent.”

~ Peggy Frezon – Contributing Editor All Creatures magazine, author of Faithfully Yours, the amazing bond between us and the animals we love.

“Jana’s book taught me that I know and love my dogs best, and that’s why it’s my job to be their advocate. It’s up to me to find the best vet but also to speak up, ask questions, trust my gut and seek a second (or third) opinion if something doesn’t add up.
I’ve always found Jana’s writing to be a voice of reason, both on her blog “Dawg Business” and now in her book. Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog reminds me to pay attention when something seems “off” with a pet and to appreciate the value of a compassionate vet who listens.”

~ Lindsay Stordahl – writer, dog walker, rescue volunteer

“I’ll never look at my dogs the same way after reading, “Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog.” Jana Rade gives the reader a panoply of symptoms to look for when your best friend might not be feeling tip-top. Based on her personal experiences and with input from top veterinarians, Jana left me with one overriding thought regarding my dogs’ health. “When in doubt, err on the side of caution.”

~Bob Poole – author of “Listen First – Sell Later” and “Six Dozen Doughnuts”


Your dog seems fine . . . until he doesn’t. He starts out a little “off,” and before you know it, he’s not eating. By the time you start watching closely, he’s much worse . . . and by the time you get him to the vet, it might be too late.

Your pup can be your companion for many years, but he needs your help to get medical assistance and preventive care. After all, he can’t simply ask to go to the doctor. Instead, our faithful companions ask through their behaviors.

Even with gravely ill dogs, those behaviors can be deceptively subtle. Did you know that pale gums require a vet visit? And a dog who drinks like he can’t ever quench his thirst is seriously concerning! Everything from a loss of interest in play or walks to more overt signs like trembling, limping, losing weight, or smelling bad could be an indication of a problem. Whatever the sign, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog covers it—based on years of fastidious research into pet health, nutrition, training, and behavior, as well as advice from veterinarians and dawgie specialists from across the globe.

Learn how to read your dog’s symptoms. Learn how to hear what your dog is telling you. You are your pet’s first line of defense against illness and injury. Knowing when to seek help is crucial. Armed with Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, you just might save your dog’s life.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog on Amazon

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: How to Tell if Your Dog Is Sick and What to Do Next is now available in paperback and Kindle.