Every pet lover has faced the question of “Is it serious? Should I take my dog (or cat) to the vet?” After all, you don’t want to rush to the emergency room at 2 in the morning if it’s not an emergency.
To make it a little easier, here are some common symptoms dogs and cats show when they’re sick.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea are two of the most common symptoms in pets. In fact, it’s so common that you may not even think anything of it. After all, it seems everyone knows at least one chowhound who’s gotten into the trash or eaten some other ill gained item that makes them sick. As to whether it’s serious or it’s a one-off, start with these questions:
1- Do you know what the dog (or cat) ate? Antifreeze? Call the veterinarian. Got into the trash? What was in the trash? Chicken bones? String? Wrapping paper?
2- How many times did they vomit? Do they have other symptoms too? Shaking? Seizures? Persistent diarrhea? Choking or gagging? These are all reasons to call the vet.
If your dog or cat has either become a ravenous beast or suddenly decided food is of little interest, then call the vet. Changes in appetite can signal serious issues like kidney disease, diabetes, or hypothyroidism.
Has your pet started coughing? If so, this is also a sign of potentially, a serious disease. In dogs it can be simple kennel cough which is easily treated. However, it can also be a sign of asthma or lung disease. You’ll want to get your pet evaluated.
Lumps and Bumps
Fluid buildup, insect bites or even the dreaded cancer – all are accompanied by lumps and bumps. Lymphoma, for example, creates highly visible lumps. You won’t know what it could be until you have your pet evaluated.
If your dog or cat is itching all the time and you’ve determined it’s not fleas, then make a vet appointment because it could signify a rash, infection or allergy.
General Disposition Changes
If an active animal suddenly wants to sleep all the time, that’s a definite sign that something is off. If a usually friendly animal develops a cranky attitude it could be a sign they’re not feeling well. If they’ve stopped showing interest in things they usually enjoy – like food or walks – that’s a sign they’re not feeling themselves. And if they start acting confused or walking into things, that’s another sign.
Ultimately, you know your pet best and know when they seem unwell. But for emergency situations where you know or suspect your pet got into a poisonous substance (like antifreeze or a certain plant) then you can call the pet poison hotline at (888) 426-4435.