Lazily lounging around the house or drinking water excessively may seem normal for your four-legged friend on a hot summer day, but these and many other behaviors may be your pet’s subtle way of saying something is wrong. Even if your pet seems like it is in perfect health, you should monitor your furry friend’s behavior carefully and look for warning signs that a pet is sick and needs to see a veterinarian.
Lethargy is a red flag that a pet isn’t feeling well and should be addressed immediately. When a pet is lacking its typical energy or is naturally sluggish, there can be numerous causes that can range from eating something toxic to pain, infection, depression, or disease. Pets can’t verbalize their illness to let you know what’s wrong, but a veterinarian will be able to provide a physical exam to look for abnormalities, as well as conduct blood work and X-rays if necessary to diagnose and treat the pet.
Bad breath is something that most pet owners don’t think of as unusual, but could be a sign that medical attention is needed. Healthy cat or dog breath might not be pleasant, but unusual or excessive odor can indicate dental problems or diabetes, infection, or disease.
Bathroom issues such as difficult or uncontrollable eliminating or relieving in atypical areas are causes for concern. Dogs that eliminate in unauthorized areas may need more training, and litterbox issues might be solved by daily cleaning, removing a lid, or adding extra boxes for multiple cats. However, all eliminating troubles could be indicative of medical issues like a urinary tract infection, incontinence, or anxiety and should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Changes in eating or appetite are also signs that something could be wrong. This can mean eating more or less than usual or vomiting after eating. Pets may vomit from time to time because they ate their food too quickly or ate something that didn’t agree with them, but it could also be a sign of a life-threatening issue—swallowing a foreign item, toxic food ingestion, infection, or disease—that should be handled right away.
Excessive drinking is another sign that could reflect an illness. While it’s not unusual for pets to be a little extra thirsty during hot summer months, frequent drinking could be a sign of various infections or diseases such as diabetes or kidney issues. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to keep Fluffy or Fido healthy, and is a lot less costly than if left untreated for a long period of time.
Obesity in pets is an increasingly common issue, and a change in mood or behavior might be fixed by something as simple as changing a pet’s diet. According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats (about 36.7 and 43.2 million) are overweight or obese, which can cause serious medical problems in pets like diabetes or kidney failure.
Healthy dogs and cats are active, alert, and maintain a normal weight for their size. In addition to obvious signs of illness like diarrhea or frequent vomiting, subtle signs can be indicators of serious health problems. Although simple lifestyle changes might resolve the problem, a visit to the veterinarian is the only way to be sure of what is ailing a pet and keep it safe and healthy.
To find a veterinarian , visit the DAVMS “Find a Veterinarian” page.