Many times a pet will let you know he is not feeling well. We need to learn and recognize signs of these health changes, compared to your pet’s ‘normal’. The purpose of the article is not to tell you what the problem is or its cause. Below is a guide to help you observe and provide examples of what kind of changes that may be unusual for your pet, especially if it is a large change or a new unexplained change. When in doubt, take your pet to your “regular” Vet., especially if it is near the weekend so a thorough examination can help determine if there is a medical issue before it might become a larger problem.
Changes in the Gastro-Intestinal System: Decrease or lack of appetite, sudden unexplained weight gain or loss, vomiting and/or diarrhea are frequently the first symptoms of an illness, especially if it has occurred over an extended period of time. If the problem lasts more than a day, especially associated with other symptoms like a behavior change, etc. see your Vet. to investigate the underlying cause.
Change in Urination: Cats who previously have used the litter box and now pee in other places, or dogs who previously were house-broken and now peeing in the house, are telling you there is a problem. Things to observe for: straining, changes in urine volume [increase or decrease], frequency of urination [excess or decrease], change in urine smell, or visible blood. If possible, take a sample of the urine with you to the Vet.
Unusual amount / sudden excessive drooling: If the weather is not particularly hot, and your pet has not exerted himself, and is having difficulty eating his food, food falling out of his mouth, – especially kibble, or has an unusual new smell change in his mouth, rubbing his face on objects, or pawing at his face, etc. these changes should be evaluated.
Change in Drinking Habit: Ifit is a warm day and your pet has exercised a lot, they normally drink a lot of water. But, if the pet keeps going back to the water bowl very frequently within a short period of this, this is not ‘normal’. Drinking much more water [‘water intoxication’] or a lot less water than usual, for a period of time, should be evaluated.
Change in Breathing: It is normal for your pet to pant after playing or, after being outdoors on a warm day. Heavy, on-going panting is not normal, especially if there is an audible sound during breathing and associated with secretions from their eyes/nose. If your pet has difficulty breathing or has an on-going blue tint to their tongue/ gums, this should be considered an urgent contact with your Vet.
Change in Odor: Your know what your pet ‘normally’ smells like – although healthy pets do not ‘stink’. If there is a change or intensity of the smell in your pet’s mouth, ears, anal area, expelled ‘gas’, skin integrity- especially if there are lesions or an open-area…. this should be evaluated.
Change in Behavior / Personality: When a pet is in pain or ill, they sometimes behave differently, i.e.: less active, lethargic, hide, withdraw, have unprovoked aggression, erratic temperament, hyperactivity, fearfulness, anxiety, submissiveness, become clingy, etc. The cause of this unexplained behavior change should be assessed.
Change in Mobility: may be due to: pain, vision or hearing loss, aging, disease or injury – a thorough examination should help determine the cause of this activity difference.
Observe your pet – “Change” is not necessarily a good thing – especially if it involves Health.
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