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How to Tell If Your Pet Is Sick

How to Tell If Your Pet Is Sick
June 11, 2020

When a pet is sick, it can be hard for a pet owner to notice. Not only can they not tell us that they’re feeling under the weather, but most pets are good at hiding the signs of illness, too.

There are a few clues, though, that can help you determine if something is amiss in your pet’s health and well-being. The team at Advantage Veterinary Center is here to help you sort through these clues and get your pet treated right away, if it’s needed.

Clues that your pet is sick

One of the early indicators that your pet is ill is when they just seem off somehow; they’re not their normal self. 

We encourage you to follow up with us if your pet suddenly seems different. This can help us diagnose your pet early and begin treatment, should they happen to be sick. If not, then you will get peace of mind knowing they just had a bad day.

Some of the more common signs of illness, however, include the following.

  1. Your pet doesn’t want to eat. Most pets want to chow down at all times. If your pet is putting up their nose at what they normally salivate over, then they may have an issue. This includes weight loss that isn’t intentional or changes to what your pet wants to eat and how much.
  2. Your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea. An occasional bout of tummy trouble is normal with most pets, especially dogs who eat something they shouldn’t. If your four-legged has increasing episodes of vomiting/diarrhea, they may have eaten something poisonous, whether a toxic plant, food, medication, or other toxins.
  3. They are coughing more. Chronic coughing and sneezing can indicate your pet has picked up kennel cough or flu. It can also be a red flag for a more serious illness, distemper, especially if your pet hasn’t been vaccinated. 
  4. They are straining to urinate or defecate. This can indicate that there is a  blockage  in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. If they are straining to urinate, it can be an alert to a tumor, or an issue with their bladder or kidneys
  5. Your pet has a swollen abdomen. A hard or firm abdomen that is swollen can mean that your pet is experiencing bloat. Bloat is a serious emergency and can cause the stomach and small intestines to contort and twist. 
  6. Do they have a high temperature? Your pet’s temperature should be between 99.5 and 102.5 F. If you have a pet thermometer, gauge whether your pet’s temp has exceeded the normal range. Sometimes a pet will feel warm to the touch, too.
  7. Check their gums. Pale or bright red gums can indicate heat stress or heatstroke. Most healthy pets should have gums that are pink in tone. Blueish-grey gums are abnormal and can signal a medical problem that needs immediate attention.
  8. They are sleeping more than normal. If your pet wants to sleep more than usual or is lethargic, they may not be feeling well. Pain and illness can cause a pet to be tired or unable to exercise or do their daily activities.

When in Doubt

If you know your pet has experienced an injury, might have ingested something they shouldn’t, or has an ongoing condition that can progressively get worse, you will need to speak with a veterinarian.

Pets who are sick will have changes in their behavior, and can become fearful or aggressive. Any changes in your pet companion, your best approach is to have them examined.

Please call us if you suspect that your pet is sick. In the best case, nothing is wrong, but your quick action can mean your pet has a better chance of successfully recovering.