We often find ourselves pondering what went wrong whilst scrambling for help when our pets are sick - but, what if we could avoid all of that by simply knowing the signs to watch out for?
By learning about the signs that could mean the onset of an underlying disease, we can help our veterinarians with early detection and prompt treatment. In other words, nipping the disease in the bud thereby ensuring minimal discomfort/pain to our pets.
Read along to know what to watch out for and when!
1. Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite can be something as simple as a stomach infection to something serious as stomach cancer. An unexpected withdrawal from eating, especially if it lasts for more than three days, is best checked as soon as possible.
Whilst there are those days when your pet isn't up for anything but lazing around on the couch, it shouldn't be every day. Lowered energy levels and a lack of enthusiasm, especially after sleeping, is a cause of concern. Lethargy is a common medical symptom for a range of health complications, cancer and heart disease amongst a few of them.
3. Heavy breathing
Laboured breathing, especially when the pet hasn't engaged in any aerobic exercise is a cause of concern that needs to be looked at by a veterinarian. This kind of heavy breathing occurs when your pet is sitting down or sleeping and is often described as 'gasping for air'.
Bloody or tarry vomiting/diarrhoea, requires immediate medical attention to test for tick fever, pancreatic disease, bowel disease, cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Like with humans, fever is a clear indication of an infection that needs medical attention. Fever is most often accompanied by loss of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, and vomiting.
6. Foul Odour
Odours from the mouth, ears, and skin that are horribly smelly can be a cause of infection, and in serious cases, even cancer. Remember that whilst some odours may be harmless, it is best to consult a veterinarian either way.
7. Frequent hiding
All cats and some dogs love their hiding spots, but when they refuse to come out of her hiding spot way too often than usual, it is a good idea to see a veterinarian because pets, especially cats often hide when they are in pain or discomfort.
8. Unexplained weight loss/gain
Unexpected weight loss or gain despite normal feeding and exercising is often the earliest sign of an underlying disease that needs to be checked with a veterinarian.
9. Unexplained bleeding
A sudden, unexplained bleeding from any part of the body, especially the gums, nose, penis, and vagina requires immediate medical attention.
10. Wounds that don't heal
Wounds that don't heal or those that start bleeding suddenly after healing may be a cause of concern, especially if this is accompanied by other signs and symptoms.
11. Repeated coughing
Coughs can be for several reasons ranging from a tiny infection to developing cancer. If your pet has repeated cough attacks, i.e. a honking noise from the throat, be sure to check with your vet to rule out an underlying infection.
Tartar is the yellow buildup on your pet's teeth that doesn't come off easily. Excessive tartar leads to a dangerous dental concern called Gingivitis, which when left untreated leads to several dental complications like oral cancer. But, tartar can be reduced through regular brushing, chewing bones, dental additives, dental treats, and dental scaling.
Pain can be for many reasons, but if it is chronic, at the same place, and keeps recurring, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.
14. Lumps, Bumps, Sores
Like how lumps and bumps are a sign of cancer in humans, it is in dogs and cats too. Abnormally shaped lumps that grow continuously, bumps that are pus-filled or hard to touch, and sores that won't go away despite repeated medication often may require medical attention to rule out certain cancers.
Discharge that is coloured (yellow/green), foul-smelling, persistent/re-occurring from the eyes, ears, and nose can indicate the presence of an underlying disease, hence it is best to keep your veterinarian informed about the same.
16. Swollen Lymph Nodes
Enlarged lymph nodes, especially those behind the knee and jaw, can cause lymphoma - a problematic form of cancer that requires immediate medical attention.
17. Urinary Problems
If your pet is straining to pee, peeing more often, peeing less than usual, or has pee that is cloudy or bloody in appearance, you should be concerned. Some urinary problems are trivial, but some are a little more serious, especially if your pet is old and isn't spayed/neutered. Ensure you consult a veterinarian when urinary infections don't go away or repeatedly occur.
We often make the mistake of assuming that these signs would fade away with time and our pets will bounce back to normal in no time - whilst that can happen, ignoring these signs could lead to them cropping up from time to time indicating the growing presence of a health concern. Hence, it is best to check with a veterinarian the first time you notice it!