Dogs who are sick or in pain present a variety of signs that may help owners and veterinarians understand what’s wrong. The list is extensive, from a reduction in activity to stiffness, lameness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, breathing or elimination problems, itchiness, hair loss and so on. While some of these signs are easy to spot, others are frequently overlooked – especially if we lead busy lives. Even worse, certain signs of discomfort cannot be caught by your veterinarian during an examination because they present themselves only when your dog is in his natural environment. That’s why researchers try to run their clinical studies in “free living conditions” whenever possible.

Here at FitBark, we focus on precisely measuring dog activity and sleep patterns. Since we launched our doggie activity monitor, hundreds of users have reached out to let us know how FitBark is helping them catch the early signs that their dog is sick. This feedback is beautifully complemented by numerous clinical trials that a variety of research institutions and vet schools are running on our platform. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

1. Dogs in discomfort don’t sleep well

This is pretty easy to spot in the FitBark mobile app. Go to the daily view and look for your dog’s sleep score. If this number has been steadily decreasing in the past couple of days due to frequent sleep interruptions, something may be off.


If you’d like to drill down, you can refer to the hourly view. For instance, your dog may typically get 15-30 points per hour at rest. If you notice he’s getting 50-100 consistently for a few hours, then something may be off. Like humans, dogs in pain often try to shift position to change angles and pressure points seeking relief.


2. Dogs in pain are less active

Lethargy is a big indicator that something may be off. Lethargic dogs show little excitement for external stimuli and mostly just want to rest. A sudden increase in resting time vs. your dog’s baseline will trigger an alert in the FitBark mobile app. When you notice a meaningful change in your dog’s energy level, make sure to pay close attention as this might be something serious.


If you’d like to quantify how activity has been decreasing, refer to the activity index in the daily view. This metric tells you how daily activity compares to average activity in recent weeks.


Putting it all together with the FitBark Health Index

Based on what we’ve learned, we couldn’t resist creating a new, ambitious, proprietary index that tells you how healthy your dog is. The FitBark Health Index is the culmination of our conversations with hundreds of veterinarians and pet healthcare professionals over the past few years. We believe it’s the first scientifically sound metric that keeps you honest about the health of your dog and, most importantly, alerts you to symptoms before they become obvious. You can learn more here.


Restless sleep and overall lethargy are two of the strongest indicators that something is off. FitBark helps you catch infections, mobility problems and other issues sooner rather than later.