Responsible pet ownership requires a commitment to our pets’ health needs and being aware of the most common signs of illness. Establishing a relationship with a veterinarian we trust and following their advice is the first step towards securing a healthy life for our pets. But we must also be watchful and aware each day of the health-related signs our pets are giving us. They may not be able to tell us when they are not feeling well, but they let us know by demonstrating symptoms and changes in behavior. Knowing when to see your vet to secure the care and treatment your pets need is essential to their long-term well-being.
Watch for these symptoms
Any change in your pet’s physical or emotional behavior can indicate a health condition that requires attention. If your furry friend is displaying any behavior that’s out of the ordinary, it’s time to call your veterinarian. Some of the most common signs of illness include:
- Change in eating habits. A reduced appetite can be triggered by an illness or stress. Excessive thirst could signal diabetes.
- Change in weight. A sudden weight loss or weight gain may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
- Change in social habits. If your pet is interacting with people or other animals more or less frequently than usual, it could be a sign that they may not be feeling well.
- Change in potty habits. This could signal a gastrointestinal illness, parasite infection or even a urinary tract infection, a common condition in cats.
- Vomiting. Some animals throw up occasionally, but if it’s happening more frequently or it’s accompanied by other symptoms, it’s time to call the vet.
- Coughing, sneezing or discharge from eyes, ears and nose. A persistent cough should be evaluated since it could signal kennel cough or another contagious respiratory disease.
- Hair loss or itchiness. These symptoms could be related to fleas, ticks or even allergies, but could also indicate an infection.
- Lethargy or trouble standing up. If moving is painful for your pet it could signal anything from old age, heart disease, arthritis or other conditions.
Make preventive care a priority
We all know that making sure vaccinations are up-to-date is a basic requirement of pet ownership. But scheduling regular preventive checkups is an essential step in helping keep your pet happy and healthy. Your veterinarian will check your pet for certain risk factors or early signs of disease that, if diagnosed early, can lead to faster treatment and better overall health. These preventive checkups are also a good time to ask questions about your pet’s diet, weight, behavior, or any other concerns.