When a beloved pet seems a bit “off,” it might be more than just a bad day; it could be a sign of mild sickness or a more serious illness. Here are some tips for recognizing the symptoms of sickness in pets and getting your pet the care he needs to recover.
Keep in mind that animals will generally attempt to mask signs of illness. This behavior is a natural instinct that is used for protection in the wild, where any animal showing signs of weakness is likely to be shunned by its own kind or attacked by predators.
Be aware that any subtle change in your pet’s appearance or behavior could indicate illness. Some signs to watch for include:
Know which signs indicate an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care and which require veterinary care if they continue for more than a day or two. Symptoms that indicate an emergency include the inability to urinate, a bloated hard abdomen, excessive vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, and the inability to stand up. Other less severe signs of illness should be checked by a veterinarian within 24 to 48 hours.
Once you have taken a sick pet to your veterinarian, you may need to continue medical care at home in the form of medication, special foods or supportive physical care. Here are some tips on handling the daily care of a sick pet:
Report any worsening symptoms or new symptoms to your veterinarian immediately, as these could indicate that your pet’s illness has become more serious. New symptoms could also be side effects of your pet’s medication. Your veterinarian may want to re-examine your pet, or he may simply change your pet’s medication.
Be sure to finish all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian and take your pet back to your veterinarian for any recommended re-check exams or diagnostic tests. Even if your pet seems completely better to you, it is very important that you adhere to your veterinarian’s instructions. Even if your pet does not look or act sick anymore, there could still be an underlying illness that could recur if you don’t follow through on all of your veterinarian’s recommendations.