If our pets could talk to us, knowing what to do and when to see your local veterinarian would be a whole lot easier. But, unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us how they feel or what they need.
In some cases, it’s obvious that your pet needs to visit a veterinary hospital in your area, but sometimes, the signs of a health problem can be a lot more subtle and difficult to spot.
Learning how to pay attention to and interpret the signs will help you stay in the know about your pet’s well-being, and it will ensure that you know when treatment can be handled at home or when veterinary care is required.
7 signs you need to call the vet
Sign #1. Abnormal behavior
When you spend a lot of time with your pet, you get to know them pretty well. You know their habits and mannerisms, and most importantly, you know when they start behaving peculiarly.
Last year, my dog was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, but the only reason we caught it was because we noticed that he started behaving differently. He had accidents inside the house when he had been potty trained for years, and he started begging for food a lot more.
Whenever your pet starts acting abnormally, there’s usually a reason for it. Maybe it’s simply that they need more exercise or attention, but it’s important to pay attention to these changes in behavior and contact your veterinarian if they persist.
Sign #2. Weight loss
Weight loss, particularly if it’s fast or unexpected, can often be a sign that something is wrong with your pet. Even if the pet is overweight, it’s concerning if they drop weight quickly.
Fast, unplanned weight loss can be a sign of all kinds of health problems in cats and dogs, including parasites, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, stress, dental disease and even cancer, all of which can be treated by your local veterinarian.
Changes in weight should always be closely monitored and quickly acted upon, as many of the health issues it points to are very serious and require professional treatment.
Sign #3. Changes in appetite
Whether your pet prefers to eat their food one mouthful at a time or they scarf it all down immediately after you set it down, most pets will stick to similar eating habits throughout their lives. Any time there’s a change in how your pet eats, or how much, it’s worth paying attention to.
Sometimes, changes in appetite or eating habits are due to something simple, like a change in the food you’re giving your pet. Or, if there’s a new pet in the house, your pet may feel more pressure to eat quickly.
Other times, though, changes in appetite or eating habits can be a sign that something is wrong with your pet. Many medical problems can affect the way your pet eats or how hungry they are.
Sign #4. Scooting
Have you ever seen your dog scoot their rear end on the floor? This isn’t just a gross annoyance. It’s actually a common sign of a number of problems and should be checked out by a veterinarian.
Dogs scoot because they’re experiencing some kind of discomfort back there. They might be irritated, itchy or in pain. Food allergies, clogged anal sacs, skin irritation from grooming, food allergies and intestinal parasites can all cause discomfort dogs will try to alleviate by scooting.
Scooting doesn’t always indicate something serious, but it can, and consulting a veterinarian can help you determine exactly what is going on with your pet and get the treatment they need.
Sign #5. Vomiting
It’s normal for pets, especially dogs, to vomit every once in a while. Just like people, pets will vomit when they consume something they don’t agree with. Sometimes, all it takes is drinking water too fast for a pet to vomit!
If your pet vomits once or twice in 15 minutes, it’s less concerning than if your pet vomits multiple times over an entire day. And, when the vomiting becomes severe, frequent, prolonged or becomes bloody, it’s definitely cause for concern.
Frequent vomiting over an extended period of time in itself can be problematic for your pet, as it can lead to dehydration. But, it’s also often a sign that something else is going on, like a serious gastrointestinal issue.
Sign #6. Diarrhea and other changes in stool
Diarrhea, like vomiting, is to be expected every now and then, especially if you’ve recently changed to a new brand of pet food or your pet has been under stress. But, when it’s prolonged, it can also lead to dangerous levels of dehydration.
Keep an eye on your pet’s stool for diarrhea and other changes. Healthy stool is moist and firm, and if it becomes dry or hard, mucus or blood is present, it looks dark and tarry, or there’s blood in the stool, it can indicate a health problem in your pet.
Changes in your pet’s stool, particularly if there’s blood, should be discussed with your veterinarian right away.
Sign #7. Lethargy
Pets, like the rest of us, have lazy days every now and then. And, it’s perfectly normal for both cats and dogs to sleep 12+ hours every day. However, when your pet starts sleeping or acting more tired than normal, it’s important to pay attention.
For example, if your pet suddenly doesn’t feel like playing or going on a walk, or if they are less responsive to commands, it may be a sign that something is wrong.
Sometimes, a little bit of lethargy can be explained by muscle fatigue following strenuous activity or warm temperatures, but if the lethargy persists after a couple of days and after your pet has been removed from the heat, you should contact your veterinarian.
Pets are very special parts of our families and our lives, and you don’t want to entrust your pet to just anyone. That’s why it’s a good idea to start your search for a veterinarian near you with Top Rated Local®.
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