Although they don’t speak the same language, animals are excellent communicators. As pet owners, we just have to learn how to listen. However, even the most attentive person can overlook early signs of illness, especially because they may often be mistaken for normal signs of aging.
“Because they can’t talk, the most important thing that owners can do for the long-term health of their pet is to take them to a veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up,” said Dr. Kimberly Luce, veterinarian and medical director at Westbury Veterinary Clinic.
Throughout the year, here are five signs to look out for that may indicate something’s wrong with your pet:
1. Changes in Personality
When something is wrong with your pet, whether it’s illness pain or injury, they may not always display physical symptoms. Pay close attention to any behavioral changes. Does your generally social dog or cat seem suddenly withdraw? Are they clingy, lethargic or showing signs of snippiness that are out of character? Don’t ignore these clues.
2. Unexplained Weight Loss or Weight Gain
Pets typically won’t lose a considerable amount of weight unless they are on a diet or getting more exercise. On the flip side, those that gain weight without any lifestyle changes may be experiencing a health issue.
3. Changes in Appetite or Drinking Habits
If your dog or cat refuses to eat or drink, take them to the vet as they are often signs a pet is in pain or not feeling well. Sudden increase in appetite or thirst might also indicate something’s wrong such as diabetes, kidney disease or hyperthyroidism.
4. Elimination Issues
Be mindful of changes in your pet’s bathroom habits including difficulty defecating, changes in frequency or volume of urination, bloody urine or loose stools. If your properly house-trained dog suddenly starts having accidents around the house or your cat starts making messes outside the litter box, it could indicate an underlying health concern.
5. Repeated Vomiting
It’s not uncommon for a cat to vomit up the occasional hairball or a dog to get sick after eating too fast, however, if your pet vomits more than once or twice monthly it’s time to schedule a vet appointment. If the vomit contains blood, call for an emergency visit right away. The same urgency applies to acute vomiting in a pet that rarely does.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, don’t wait until your pets next annual checkup. If you aren’t sure whether your pet’s symptoms warrant a visit to the veterinarian, trust your instincts. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.
“We much rather you bring your pet in for an evaluation and they end up being healthy, than the alternative,” said Luce.
In addition to wellness and preventative care, Westbury Veterinary Clinic in Summerville not only provides wellness and preventative care but is fully equipped to handle pet emergencies. For more information, visit WestburyVC.com or call (843) 873-2761 to schedule an appointment.