Animals are very good at hiding signs of illness and weakness.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  Critters living out in the wild that are not at the top of their game are often called dinner.  Our family friends are not living out in nature, however.  It is our job to pay close attention so that we are conscious of subtle signs of problems early in their course.  The following is a list of some obvious and not-so-obvious signs that a problem could be lurking:

  • Sustained changes in attitude or activity level
  • Changes in drinking habits (increased or decreased consumption)
  • Changes in appetite (increased, decreased, or absent)
  • Changes in urination habits (increased, decreased, straining, blood in urine)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Decreased vision and/or hearing
  • Changes in the appearance of the eyes
  • Harder time getting around, stiffness
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Bad breath, drooling
  • New lumps or bumps
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Lameness, especially that lasting over 5 days or in more than one leg
  • Excessive panting
  • Breathing heavily or quickly while resting
  • Hiding, especially for cats

When you are familiar with your pet’s normal habits and behavior, it becomes much easier to identify a problem.  If you are able to draw these types of issues to your veterinarian’s attention, you offer valuable information that just might help detect a problem before it becomes detrimental to your pet’s health.