Sometimes your pet may be noticeably sick; vomiting, limping, coughing… Other times you just sense they are not themselves. Unlike humans, pets are unable to communicate through words how they are feeling, so what is it that that we sense they are not 100%?
Changes in your pets behaviour is usually the first sign you notice that they are feeling off. When pets are in pain or unwell, they tend to have decreased activity or lethargy, become withdrawn or hide, show snippiness, growling or aggression. Not all pets will show negative behaviours when they are ill, some may become clingy or display changes in their usual routine.
Appetite loss is a symptom of many different problems ranging from mild to very serious, such as anxiety and stress, pain from dental disease, gastrointestinal upset, intestinal obstruction, renal disease, cancer to name a few. Most pets have their own eating habits and routines, so when that routine is not followed through, it becomes a concern. Some dogs, regardless of how sick they are, will still be willing to eat, especially a yummy treat – do not let this be a gage of how sick they are.
Pale gums can be a sign of a variety of illnesses, such as anaemia, internal bleeding, pain and shock. Pets normally have pink, moist gums. It’s important to know what colour your dog’s gums usually are, to then know when they are not looking normal. Regularly looking in your pet’s mouth and checking gum colour will get your pet used to the procedure.
Weight loss and gain can be due to a number of reasons. Generally, gradual loss of weight is okay or even beneficial if it is expected or there is an obvious reason for it – such as increase in exercise or a deliberate change of diet. Unexplained rapid weight loss or gain, however, is a concern. Some medications can cause changes in appetite and therefore weight loss or gain. Medical conditions that cause weight gain include Cushings disease and Thyroid disease. Some medical conditions can also cause weight loss due to calorie loss, such as gastrointestinal upset, dental disease, inflammatory bowel disease. Take note of your pets ‘normal’ weight to notice any changes.
You know your pet best, so if you have concerns or sense that there is something not quite right with your pet; book in to see your vet for an examination.