It can be difficult to know whether it’s really necessary to take your pet to the vet, or whether you are being over-anxious. We have compiled a list of health and behavioural signals to look out for in your pet.
Regardless of how expressive your dog’s bright eyes or cat’s melodious meowing appear to be, the fact remains that pets lack the facility of language. They aren’t able to tell us directly when something is wrong, or what exactly is bothering them – only your vet can properly determine this for you. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to your furry companion’s behaviour, and recognise the signs that might warrant a trip to the vet.
As the owner, you are in the best position to spot a warning signal when it occurs. However, it’s sometimes hard to pick up on less obvious signs of illness. One of the most difficult symptoms to recognise is pain – in the absence of a surface wound, swelling, or other physical manifestations, internal discomfort shows itself through changes in your pet’s behaviour. The major signs to look out for include changes or signs of difficulty in breathing, posture, gait, grooming, urine and
bowel habits, sleeping and vocalisation. Just as with humans, concerning health changes can be caused by a vast range of conditions, so it’s important not to jump to conclusions.
For example, vomiting can point to anything from temporary motion sickness to more serious ailments such as diabetes mellitus and head trauma. As a general rule of thumb, any unexpected or rapid changes in your pet’s behaviour or appearance are a potential concern, and signal that a trip to the vet is in order. When visiting the vet, it’s good to supply as much information as possible, so that they can quickly narrow down the potential cause of the ailment. Information on your pet’s age and breed, vaccination status, living environment, access to poisons, diet, and when the symptoms appeared are all useful for your vet to have on hand.
Any one of these symptoms indicate that you should take your pet to the vet urgently:
- Difficulty with breathing
- Fits or seizures
- Collapsing or unconsciousness
- Excess vomiting or diarrhoea (especially if there is blood present)
- Signs of severe pain
- Excess bleeding
- Inability to walk
- Severe abdominal pain or swollen abdomen
These symptoms indicate that there may be something wrong with your pet’s health, and also warrant a call to the vet:
- Excess thirst and urination
- Difficulty urinating or urinating in inappropriate places
- Change in appetite or a refusal to eat
- Change in behaviour (lethargy, aggression, etc)
- Strange breath or body odours
- Rapid, unexpected weight gain or loss