Pet Tips

Signs of Illness and Observing Behaviour – Pet tip 177

As pet lovers one of the most stressful things that we go through with our pets is when they fall ill. Due to the fact that pets can’t tell us when they are feeling ill, it is up to us to observe their behavior and take appropriate action when it is abnormal. This ‘abnormal’ behaviour, whatever it is, will be one of the keys to determining health or illness. After all, we know our pets better than anyone else. If we have a dog or cat that is extremely playful every morning and then one morning the pet is lying in the corner, then that is likely a sign of illness or some problem.

Even though it sounds simple and obvious, most pets follow a daily routine and have particular habits. When they suddenly stop following those habits, warning bells should sound and a visit to the vet is in order. This is especially true of pets that have been in your care for a while as you the pet owner know them best. When it comes to officially diagnosing the actual problem, of course the veterinarian is the best person to call. However when it comes to observing your pet’s natural behaviour, you the pet owner are the best detective in determining if their behaviour is normal or abnormal.

The process of observation becomes more difficult when the pet has just recently come into a new household because it lacks any type of ‘observational history’. In this case we need to be aware of some of the basic signs of illness in cats and dogs. We must also be aware that most dogs and cats instinctively try to hide illnesses as illness equals vulnerability to predators. By the time your dog or cat is showing obvious signs of illness, there is a good chance that it is already fairly sick.

The following signs (and this is only an incomplete and fairly basic list) are good indicators that there is a health problem with your pet and that it needs to be seen by a veterinarian. Weight-loss, weakness, disorientation/confusion, loss of appetite, excessive vomiting, excessive diarrhea, excessive scratching, head shaking, difficulty breathing, hiding in general, hiding in dark places, sleeping or resting much more than usual, blood in the urine or stool, making odd noises when touched or picked up, general disinterest in things it likes, difficulty walking or moving about and uncharacteristic discharge from any orifice in the pet’s body, are all good indicators of a medical problem. Any other symptom not on this list that is abnormal for your pet is also an indication of illness.

Being diligent observers of the pets we have, or becoming diligent observers once we get new pets is one of the best ways to ensure the long term health of our pets. After all, just like humans pets do get sick from time to time and need occasional veterinary visits. The difference between pets and people though, is that most people will not try to hide their illnesses. So when a pet does exhibit signs of illness, their medical problem might well need immediate veterinary care. That’s why being aware of their normal behaviour, as well as general the signs of illness is so important.

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