Dogs and cats do a pretty good job at covering up pain and illness and may continue to eat, drink or act relatively normal even when quite unwell. This can make it a difficult judgement call about whether your pet needs to visit the vet.
In this blog, we list the top 6 warning signs to watch out for in your pet that may indicate they need to see a vet sooner rather than later.
While heat, ageing joints and overactivity can cause your pet to become less active, lethargy that is out of character needs to be investigated. When lethargy persists for more than one day, or if you have a puppy or kitten, then it’s important to seek veterinary advice. Lethargy can be a sign that your pet is in pain or is affected by illness.
If your pet shows signs of being wobbly on their legs or has trouble with their balance, then it’s important to get them checked out by your vet. These symptoms could be due to muscular strains, joint issues, or neurological problems.
Not eating or change in drinking habits
If your cat or dog suddenly changes their eating or drinking habits, it’s important not to assume they’re being fussy.
Stopping eating, or a sudden reduction in appetite could be a sign of a serious underlying medical issue. Dental disease, thyroid issues, kidney diseases and gastric ulcers and anxiety can all lead to your pet becoming reluctant to eat. Not eating can also lead to dehydration for your pet, which can quickly become an emergency situation.
A sudden change in water consumption – whether it be excessive drinking or reduced interest to drink, can also be a possible warning sign for illness or disease.
If excessive thirst isn’t due to exercise or warmer weather or lasts longer than a day, it could be a sign of diabetes, kidney disease or other health problem. A disinterest in drinking water can also be concerning due to the risk of dehydration and is often accompanied by a reduced appetite.
Persistent vomiting or diarrhoea
It can be quite common for cats and dogs to experience vomiting or diarrhoea from time to time, however, it’s important not to dismiss this as being “normal” behaviour. If your pet experiences a few vomits or loose stools in a short period of time and recovers well, then they most likely need a bit of rest, and a close eye kept on them for any other signs of illness or deterioration. Persistent diarrhoea or vomiting, or the additional symptoms of loss of appetite or reduced urination can be a sign of a more serious illness, and an emergency appointment with your vet is required.
While panting or rapid breathing is an expected response for dogs after exercise, excitement, or during particularly hot weather, breathing should return to normal once your pup has had a chance to rest and cool down.
If your dog or cat is breathing heavily, making unusual noises, or breathing quicker than usual, then this is an emergency, your pet should see a vet as soon as possible. Breathing difficulties can quickly become life-threatening if no action is taken.
Sudden aggressive or unusual behaviour
If your pet is behaving in a manner that is out of character – such as acting aggressively or hiding away all of a sudden – this may be a sign that they are in pain. It’s important that any sudden change in behaviour is checked out by your vet, so they can rule out any illness or injury that may be causing your pet’s actions.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
While it is very common to second guess whether you need to take your pet to the vet, if they are displaying any of the above signs, then it is important to err on the side of caution and get them checked over by a professional.
Many serious illnesses and diseases can be treated successfully if diagnosed early enough. Unfortunately, we sometimes see animals after they have experienced some of the above warning signs for a number of days, and this reduces the effectiveness of medication, surgery or other treatment options.
The Moorabbin Veterinary Hospital is open 7 days a week, with state-of-the-art equipment and a dedicated team of veterinarians and nurses to look after your pet.
If you are ever concerned about any symptoms that your pet may be displaying, please call us on 03 9555 4808 for assistance.