The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Warning Signs that Your Pet May be Sick The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Warning Signs that Your Pet May be Sick

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Warning Signs that Your Pet May be Sick

If your pet has one or more of these symptoms, he needs veterinary attention right away.


  • Abdominal pain. Your cat is pawing at his stomach, he's crouched instead of sitting in a relaxed manner, or he refuses to let his stomach be touched. He could be suffering from a urinary tract infection, organ disease, a blockage of his digestive tract, or internal bleeding.

  • Bleeding. If your kitten is bleeding from his eyes or ears, or if the blood is spurting or pulsing, bandage it and call your vet while you're packing your cat in the car.
  • Blindness that comes on suddenly. If your cat is bumping into things or is afraid to walk because she can't see, he could be suffering from a detached retina or glaucoma.
  • Difficulty breathing. If your cat is wheezing or experiencing labored breathing, she could be having an asthma attack, heart problems, or anaphylactic shock (life-threatening allergic reaction). Get to the vet right away.
  • Difficulty urinating. If your cat is running back and forth to the litterbox and producing little or no urine, if he's crying in pain while trying to urinate, or if he's frantically licking his genitals after an attempt at urinating, call the vet now. Especially in male cats, these can be signs of a potentially fatal urinary blockage.
  • Lameness or inability to put weight on limbs. Cats instinctively hide their pain, so if your kitten is hurting enough to visibly favor a leg, that means it's serious. He could have a fracture, infection, deep penetrating wound, or heart problems.
  • Seizures. If your cat is having convulsions, spasms, twitching, or acting disoriented, he may be having a seizure or he may have been poisoned.
  • Staggering. This could be a sign of a middle-ear infection, neurological disorder, or poisoning.
  • Vomiting more than once within an hour, especially if the vomit is bloody. Your cat could have swallowed a foreign object or she could be suffering from liver or kidney disease. Intestinal disturbances and poisoning also cause frequent vomiting.
  • If you think about it, this is really simple common sense. It all boils down to this question: If you were experiencing these symptoms, would you go to the emergency room or call the doctor? If so, seek the same level of treatment for your cat.


It may not always be easy to tell when your dog is ill. Hiding illness is a dog's survival.

Changes in eating patterns
  • Dogs may occasionally experience a minor virus or digestive problem that will cause a day or two of waning appetite. A change in eating habits could otherwise be a sign of a serious problem. 

If the following behaviors persist or change dramatically in a short period of time, contact your veterinarian.

  • Eating far less than usual, or seeming uninterested in eating altogether
  • Exhibiting finicky eating habits when she normally eats heartily
  • Suddenly demonstrating an insatiable appetite
  • Vomiting after eating

Changes in energy levels

Just like their human pals, dogs’ energy levels increase or decrease daily depending on factors such as weather or activity. Contact your vet if your dog displays these characteristics over a period of several days:

  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Acting lethargic
  • Seeming indifferent to activities he’d normally enjoy, such as fetching a ball or going for a walk
  • Acting restlessly or paces

Other physical and behavioral symptoms

There are too many possible physical and behavioral indications to list, but there are telltale signs of sickness in your canine:
  • Watery or sunken eyes
  • Tripping or loss of balance
  • Urinating in the house or other place where she’d normally not
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Ear discharge or odor
  • Frequent and irregular bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Lack of bowel movements
  • Panting throughout the day, especially when trying to go to sleep
  • Coughing
  • Drinking water excessively

Mood changes

A dog who is usually very outgoing but suddenly begins loafing in a corner of the house may be feeling down and out. Likewise, a dog who is normally friendly and gentle with children may show aggression when illness strikes.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian for an appointment. And remember: you know your pet better than anyone. If none of the above symptoms apply to your pet but your instincts tell you something isn’t right, have him checked out anyway. The resulting peace of mind will make everyone feel better!