Today pets are part of our family. Just like humans, pets get sick. The difference is that pets can’t tell us they don’t feel well. Sometimes it’s difficult to know when pets are sick because they can be good at hiding an illness. So how do you know when to take your pet to the vet? Below are some of the most common warning signs that warrant a vet visit.
Vomiting is common in both cats and dogs. There are several possible causes including poisoning, infections or kidney problems. Vomiting can lead to dehydration so if your pet continues to vomit, a visit to the vet is necessary. If you can, try to bring a sample of the vomit with you.
Diarrhea is also common in both cats and dogs. Like vomiting, there are a number of possible causes including intestinal parasites or spoiled food. If left untreated, diarrhea can lead to dehydration as well. If the diarrhea persists for more than a few hours, is combined with other symptoms like vomiting, or contains blood, immediately take your pet to the vet.
Coughing that persists in a pet is a symptom that a vet should examine. There are several reasons that your pet might be coughing that include respiratory tract infection, heartworm disease or asthma, especially in cats.
Changes in a pet’s appetite or water intake could signal that your pet may be sick. It is important as a pet owner to be aware of not only how much food and water is appropriate for your animal but the actual consumption. Any alteration could be indicative of kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes.
Problems can occur when a pet starts urinating more or less frequently or the color of the urine is unusual. Too much urine can point to a urinary tract infection or diabetes. Too little urine or straining to urinate can point to bladder or kidney stones. It is always an emergency if your cat can’t urinate. You need to be especially vigilant because it only takes 24 hours before this becomes a life-threatening condition.
Some pet parents may think that scratching or itching isn’t a big problem, but it doesn’t take long for animals to break the skin and cause an infection. The most common reasons for skin irritation are fleas, ticks and mange/ear mites. While these are easily treated with medication, itchy skin may also be a sign of endocrine problems, yeast infections or allergies. Your vet can run tests to diagnosis the problem and treat accordingly.
Sometimes an animal shows vague symptoms like being tired, sleeping more, not being as active as usual or just behaving differently. Changes in energy levels can’t always be tied to an obvious reason but if the lethargy continues, seek veterinary help.
Unlike humans, our pets can’t use words to tell us they are aren’t feeling good or something hurts. Instead, they will reveal to us through physical symptoms and behavior changes. As owners who are with your animals on a daily basis, you are your pet’s first line of defense when it comes to their health. If you are concerned about your pet or unsure about its health for any reason, call or visit your veterinarian. Through a detailed examination and perhaps further tests, most of the above problems can be diagnosed and treated, leading to a happy, healthy animal.