Recognizing an Ill Pet

Just like humans, pets can have days where they feel a little lethargic or under the weather, but it is a natural instinct of an animal to try and disguise any signs of illness. They do this because in the wild, showing signs of weakness can leave them vulnerable to predators and open to attack. Unfortunately, this can make it tricky to determine if your pet is feeling a little unwell or if they are suffering from a more serious illness.

There are a number of symptoms and changes in your pets’ appearance, behavior and physical condition that you should look out for.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Abnormal vocal noises

  • Bloating of the abdomen

  • Blood in the stools or urine

  • Decreased energy or activity levels

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting

  • Discharge from the nose or eyes

  • Excessive scratching or licking of the body

  • Foul odor from ears, mouth or skin

  • Increased shedding or bald patches

  • Limping

  • Lumps or tumors

  • Persistent hiding

  • Reluctance to use stairs

  • Seizures

  • Straining or an inability to pass urine or stools

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, they should be checked out by a veterinarian within 24/48 hours.

Symptoms that require immediate veterinary treatment include:

  • Bloated or hardened abdomen

  • Excessive vomiting or diarrhea

  • Inability to stand up or urinate

  • Seizures

While a sick pet may require inpatient treatment from your veterinarian for several days or even weeks, they will often need continuing care to aid in their recovery when they come home. This can include administering medication, supporting physical rehabilitation, emotional care, and fulfilling any special dietary requirements.

Medicating your Pet

Medicating your pet can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the best ways in which to administer the drugs. Your veterinarian will explain the dosages of any prescribed medication and will be able to demonstrate the easiest ways of administering them. Luckily, many medications can be incorporated into meal times, making the process simpler and less stressful for you and your pet.

Make sure that your pet finishes the entire course of prescribed medications, even if they look and act as if they are at full health. Not doing so could mean that the virus or infection may not be fully eradicated and your pet could become unwell again.

If your veterinarian has prescribed a special diet, be sure to feed your pet separately from any other animals in the house. Adhere strictly to the instructions given as any deviation from the plan, no matter how small, could be potentially harmful to your pet.

Ongoing Care

Your pet may need to be kept isolated from other animals in the house. They will need a quiet environment with food and water nearby as they may be physically weak for some time. Ensure plenty of fresh water is always available.

You should also keep young children away from your recovering pet as they may not understand the space that they need to fully rehabilitate.

Any changes in or worsening of symptoms should be immediately reported to your veterinarian. These changes could indicate that the medication your pet has been receiving needs urgent review or your pet's illness has become more serious. Do not delay in making an appointment and be sure to fully explain the situation to the receptionist on duty.