We are all busy. It is easy to overlook signs that something is amiss with our furry family members. Can a concern wait until the pet’s next wellness visit? Or do you need to call right away? Sometimes it is obvious, such as with an injury or an acute illness. Other signs are more subtle. Here are a few that should always prompt a call to the veterinary office.
1. Changes in appetite: Most people will become concerned if their pet suddenly stops eating. Less dramatic changes can also be a concern. A pet which is eating less, or with less enthusiasm, may be ill. Likewise, an animal that seems to suddenly be always hungry may have an underlying illness, such as diabetes or thyroid disease.
2. Unexplained changes in body weight: Both weight loss and weight gain, if not due to a change in diet, can be signs of a health issue. Unexpected weight loss can signal a digestive issue, diabetes, or another metabolic disorder. Weight gain can be due to hypothyroidism. Abnormal fluid accumulation may cause a sudden appearance of weight gain.
3. Increase in water intake: Does it seem you can never keep your pet’s water bowl full? Increased thirst is a common sign of diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, and several other disorders. Please don’t ignore this change.
4. Changes in urinary habits: With increased thirst often comes increased urine output- called polyuria and polydipsia, or PU/PD. The diseases noted above are often the culprits. Other changes we can see are more frequent urinations, straining, blood in the urine, and urinary accidents. These can be signs of serious or even life-threatening urinary tract disorders.
5. Abnormal bowel movements: Most pets get occasional diarrhea. Often it is due to something they ate. In an adult, otherwise healthy dog or cat, diarrhea is often self-limiting. If your pet is a puppy or kitten, please call the office about any diarrhea. Their young age and small size make them more vulnerable to dehydration. Likewise, if your pet is also vomiting, or acting lethargic, call. In contrast to diarrhea; fewer bowel movements, straining, or abnormally hard stools can also indicate a problem. Please call if you notice this in your pet.
6. Vomiting: Vomiting can have a variety of causes. If your pet vomits more than a few times, or if they act ill, please call.
7. Behavior changes: Our four-legged family members can’t tell us how they feel and what’s upsetting them. Sometimes illness will manifest itself in a change in behavior. If your pet is sleeping more, hiding, or more irritable than usual, it may be due to a physical issue. By the same token, emotional issues, such as separation anxiety, should be addressed professionally to prevent unneeded suffering.
These are just a few of the clues we can see that indicate a hidden illness. Anytime you notice something out of the ordinary with your pet, we at Veterinary Associates encourage you to call us. Sometimes you just need reassurance, other times we will recommend an exam. Either way, we want what is best for your pet. We know you do too.