Our cats and dogs are family – we share our laps, our beds, and our homes with them. Although we know our pets better than anyone else, it can be tough for owners to tell if a pet is ill or injured, since they can’t talk to us. Instead, it’s often more subtle signs, like the ones listed below, that can tell us when our furry friends need to see the veterinarian.
- Behavior changes – Increased activity or restlessness in your pet are big red flags – constant pacing can also be a sign of anxiety, or of pain due to injury or illness, and your veterinarian has the knowledge to know the difference. Your pup or kitty may have an undetected illness. Pets can also begin seeking more attention, or you may find them hiding or sleeping more than they usually do if they’re ill.
- Abnormal appetite – This symptom may seem vague, but a change in your pet’s eating habits should mean a call to your pet’s vet. A poor appetite can result from many causes – gastrointestinal issues, cancer, and dental pain are some of them. Pets with greatly increased appetites may need to be checked for diabetes or pancreatic problems.
- Change in bowel movements or urination – Your veterinarian will probably tell you that this is one of the first signs that dog and cat owners notice when their pets aren’t feeling their best. Excessive potty breaks or trips to the litter box may be signs that your pet is suffering from a urinary tract infection; kidney disease and diabetes are also common culprits. On the opposite of the scale, constipation, or even straining to pee or poop are alarming symptoms that also warrant a checkup right away.
- Vomiting or Diarrhea – Cats and dogs do vomit occasionally, but throwing up can sometimes mean that your pet needs emergency help, especially in cases like poisoning, an ingested foreign object or serious illness. In fact, retching unproductively is the most obvious sign of a severe, life-threatening condition in dogs (bloat) in which their stomach overfills with air and twists. Severe, chronic or discoloured diarrhea should also be brought to the attention of your veterinarian
- Changes in Movement or Posture – A pooch that begins to have trouble jumping into the car or a cat that can no longer pounce onto the bed may be experiencing painful arthritis or even early signs of neurological disorder. Sometimes a chance in your pet’s mobility might be caused by muscle loss due to other types of organ diseases, too.
In the end, you know your pet better than anyone – don’t be afraid to trust your own intuition. Establish a good relationship with the doctors and staff at your pet’s vet clinic so that you feel comfortable calling them any time to discuss your pet’s abnormal symptoms with them. Your veterinarian has the extensive medical knowledge and experience to know the difference – always follow their advice!