As in home pet sitters and dog walkers, we know animals in the wild are naturally reluctant to show weakness or illness as a self preservation reflex. Cats and dogs can also be good at hiding it when something is wrong. Here are 5 warning signs of illness in pets:
- Behavioural changes
A change in behaviour is one of the first signs that something is not quite right with your pet. Cats and dogs who feel unwell may become withdrawn and start to keep to themselves or otherwise become uncharacteristically attention-seeking. Ill animals may also act out of character and become aggressive if they are in pain.
- Altered appetite
Dogs and cats should be fed a regular amount each day and eating habits monitored closely so that changes in appetite are promptly noticed. An increase or decrease in appetite is one of the first signs of endocrine disorders in pets.
Alongside changes in appetite, water consumption should be measured as well. Increased or decreased thirst may be seen in conjunction with an increase or decrease in urine output.
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Intermittent vomiting or diarrhea can be an indication that your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have and will usually pass. Persistent vomiting or diarrhoea can be a warning sign of gastrointestinal upset, intestinal parasites, or other internal illness. Content should be inspected for frequency, amount, colour, and consistency.
- Reluctance to exercise
Animals that are in pain or feel unwell will usually become lethargic and sleep more than normal. Cats and dogs that experience joint pain or stiffness will have a limited range of motion and mobility. This may be seen as a decreased activity level, reluctance to exercise, and difficulty rising from a resting position or climbing stairs.
- Unkempt coat
Hair loss, itchy skin, and an overall poor coat condition can be a warning sign of illness in pets. Cats and dogs that feel unwell will often lapse on grooming habits leading to a dirty, oily, or unkempt hair coat.
Warning signs of illness in animals can often be quite subtle. It is important to know what is normal for your pet for prompt identification of abnormalities. Any health or behavioural concerns should be communicated to your veterinarian.