‘Sick as a Dog’: Definition, Meaning and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 30, 2023

Did someone tell you that they’re ‘sick as a dog’? And now you’re wondering what that meant? Below, we’ll take a look at the meaning and provide examples of how to use the phrase correctly in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘Sick as a dog’ means that someone is very ill from a stomach issue.

Essentially, it’s a way for someone to tell you that they’re feeling very ill or under the weather.

What Does ‘Sicker Than a Dog’ Mean?

‘Sicker than a dog’ is a phrase that means someone is feeling very ill, usually due to a stomach ailment. The phrase is commonly used when someone is suffering from something such as the flu or the common cold.

You might hear someone say something like this while getting over an illness.

Or if they’re suffering from a disease and having a particularly tough day, they might say something like:

 ‘I feel awful today. I’m sicker than a dog.’

If you’ve been hit with COVID and you’re feeling all the symptoms of it, you might say that you’re ‘sick as a dog.’

Where Does ‘Sicker Than a Dog’ Come From? 

The earliest known use of the phrase ‘sick as a dog’ comes from the 1700s, when it was common to compare undesirable things to dogs.

That could be why people call men ‘dogs’ when they don’t treat women right.

See back then, people didn’t like dogs because they often helped spread diseases, such as the plague, along with rats and birds.

Therefore, they were seen as dirty, disgusting things in those days when dogs usually lived outside and in poor conditions, which caused them to be a lot dirtier, mangier, and sicker.

These days, dogs get the red-carpet treatment and thankfully aren’t seen as poorly as they were in the past.

People used the phrase ‘sick as a dog’ because all dogs actually looked sick. You might also hear ‘sicker than a dog.’

Examples of ‘Sicker Than a Dog’ in Sentences

How would you use ‘sicker than a dog’ in a sentence?

Let’s look at some examples:

  • I had COVID last week, and it was awful. I was as sick as a dog. I couldn’t even get out of bed or even open my eyes. It got me good this time.
  • I had to cancel my meeting with the head of the organization because I couldn’t even move. I was sick as a dog. I don’t know what happened or how I got sick.
  • We had to move a ton of boxes yesterday, but I wasn’t able to do anything. I must’ve caught some bug because all of a sudden, I feel sick as a dog.
  • I had a lot of fun on the weekend, but when I got back home, I felt sick as a dog. I wonder if it’s something I ate at the resort.
  • Every time I eat out at this one particular restaurant, I start feeling sick as a dog the next day. I have to talk to the restaurateur to let him know something’s not right.
  • I don’t know why my cousin keeps trying to make baked macaroni and cheese. Every time she tries, it’s a disaster. Not to mention, we all feel sick as a dog the next day.
  • After we had a cheese-eating contest, we were all sick as a dog for days. I’m not sure whose idea this was, but it probably wasn’t a good one.
  • My cruise ship would have been perfect if it weren’t for the food situation. Most of us got food poisoning and felt sick as a dog. Never again.

Other Ways to Say ‘Sicker Than a Dog’

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘sicker than a dog’?

Here are a few examples:

  • Sickly
  • Diseased
  • Under the weather
  • Sick
  • Not feeling well
  • Unwell
  • Feeling awful
  • Feeble
  • Debilitated
  • Run down
  • Green around the gills
  • Sick to one’s stomach
  • Miserable
  • Vomiting or throwing up
  • Blah
  • Crummy
  • Pale
  • Defective
  • Ill
  • Down
  • Below par
  • Nauseated
  • Sick as a parrot
  • Indisposed
  • Laid-up
  • Ailing
  • Bedridden
  • Broken down
  • Feverish
  • In poor health
  • Infected
  • In a bad way
  • Queasy
  • Not so hoy
  • Suffering from illness
  • Rickety
  • Lousy
  • Invalid
  • Rotten
  • Unhealthy
  • Weak
  • Wobbly

Final Advice on ‘Sicker Than a Dog’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Sick as a dog’ is a way for someone to express that they’re very ill (usually from a stomach issue).

Remember, it’s a way for someone to tell you that they’re feeling very ill or under the weather.

If you ever get stuck on anything, feel free to come back to review what you learned. We’ve got a ton of other content on Idioms you might come across as you’re learning this complex language we call English. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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