While some illness or injuries may be obvious to the naked eye, there are many conditions that can be difficult to detect. Abnormal behaviors can be a strong indicator of impending health trouble. Knowing what to look for can help you determine if the signs are serious and when you need to seek help for your pet.
Survival of the Fittest
The ease in which you can detect illness or injury in your pet is largely dependent on what type of pet you have. Prey animals, such as birds, reptiles and rodents, are especially good at hiding symptoms. In the animal kingdom, sick or hurt animals are an easy food source for predators. Masking is a survival mechanism. Dogs and cats will also sometimes conceal symptoms for this same reason.
Know What’s Normal for Your Pet
Knowing your pet’s patterns—how they eat, drink, sleep, and play—can help you determine when illness or injury is an issue. Abnormal behaviors are clues that help you determine when something is wrong.
It’s important to recognize that normal behavior in pets can sometimes mimic the symptoms of serious conditions. For example, refusing to eat an occasional meal may be normal for an otherwise healthy adult dog. However, an older dog that won’t eat could be suffering from kidney or liver failure, dental problems, cancer or other disease.
Signs of Illness or Injury
While the list of symptoms is by no means complete, here are a few specific things you can watch out for:
- Sudden increase or decrease in activity levels
- Difficulty getting up
- Loss of balance
- Unexplained, sudden irritability
- Bad breath
When There Is a Problem
It goes without saying that any trauma, such as being hit by a car, needs to be addressed by a veterinarian. Internal injuries may not cause observable symptoms until it is too late.
There are some symptoms that should never be ignored, according to 1st Pet Veterinary Centers – Chandler. These include common sense things such as seizures, vomiting and/or diarrhea that lasts longer than one day, difficulty breathing and obvious wounds.
Less common serious symptoms include:
- Swollen belly
- Excessive eye redness
- Exaggerated startle reflex
- Excessive salivation
- Red, white, or blue gums
- Difficulty urinating
Even if you can’t point to one specific symptom, your veterinarian may still be able to help. There are a wide variety of laboratory tests designed to detect even subtle changes in your pet’s system. Seeking professional advice is always the best policy when it comes to protecting your pet’s health.