Caring for Sick Pets – Recognizing Illness Early

At some point in your pet’s life, you will need to take them to the vet, whether for an emergency, illness, a routine checkup, or dental procedure. Oftentimes people try to make reasons to not take their pets to the vet. This can be dangerous, as it is harder to perceive illness in our pets than it is in ourselves. Below are some signs for cats and dogs that they need to be taken to the vet:

How to know when your cat isn’t well

  • Meowing louder or more frequently than normal. Though some cats are more vocal than others, if you start to notice a change in the volume or manner that your cat meows, this may be a sign that they are in pain or ill.
  • When petting your cat, feel for any wounds, lumps, or swelling. Finding any of these is a bad sign.
  • Cats can the common cold similar to humans. Symptoms include a runny nose, frequent sneezing and coughing, crusty eyes, etc. If the symptoms worsen or last longer than about a week to 10 days, consult your veterinarian.
  • If your cat starts skipping meals, that doesn’t mean they are dieting. Look for changes in their eating habits.
  • Though cats sleep through much of the day, if you start to notice extreme lethargy, this can also be a bad sign.
  • Cats groom often. If they start to groom excessively and pull out/lose fur, this may be a sign of a parasite or potential skin problem.

Signs of a sick dog

  • Difficulty breathing: wheezing, choking, weak or raspy breathing. These symptoms can mean a variety of dangers such as an allergic reaction, heart or lung disease, or even something caught in your dog’s throat.
  • Sudden changes in your dog’s behavior. Most dogs are normally pretty alert, but if you start to seem extreme lethargy, collapsing, weakness, seizures, or unresponsiveness, it’s time to visit your vet.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea. This is normal in dogs from time to time, but if the episodes last longer than a 24 hour period, you need to visit the vet. Make sure that your dog stays hydrated when this occurs.
  • Change in gum color/texture. Gums will tell a lot about your dog’s state of health. They should normally be pink and moist. If you notice different colors, check with your vet.
  • Difficulty urinating. This can be a sign of infection or more serious diseases.
  • Exposure to poisons. Dogs will put about anything in their mouth. If you see your dog consume something that doesn’t appear healthy, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. A phone call is better than nothing.

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