It's no secret that we quickly develop lasting bonds with our pets.
For many pet owners, our cats and dogs are considered members of the family. They feel like kids to us, but when it comes to our pets' health and safety, they can't exactly speak out in their time of need. So how do we know when it's the right time to take your cat or dog to the vet? What signs or changes in behavior should you look for?
Never fear, pet lovers. We've got the answers you need. Here are the major behavioral changes in cats and dogs that mean they may require immediate medical attention.
1. Bad breath in cats
If your feline's breath smells like ammonia, it could be caused by kidney disease or a kidney infection.
2. Change in appetite
If your animal is finding it harder to make time to eat or drink water, it could be caused by one of many illnesses or conditions. Informing your vet ASAP can help them quickly narrow down the cause of their change in eating habits.
3. Change in sleeping behaviors
If your overly active pet suddenly starts taking naps for hours at a time, or vice versa, such a large change in behavior is worth having checked out.
4. Repetitive coughing
If your dog experiences prolonged coughing, gagging, sneezing, or vomiting during meal time, it might be caused by an allergic reaction. If the coughing continues, it may be a sign of kennel cough, which if not treated immediately, can become serious.
5. Change in grooming habits
Is your animal's fur suddenly less soft and shiny than it usually is? Has your cat taken less of an interest in grooming itself? This could be a valid indicator of a skin condition or other illness.
6. Itchy skin
If your animal starts experiencing signs of dermatitis, it might indicate an allergic reaction or possible fleabites. Get the pup looked at immediately!
7. Swollen or red gums
If your dog's gums are suddenly swelling and you notice the pooch's breath is smelly, it may have gum disease. In the most extreme cases of gum disease, dogs may also develop trouble chewing their food and may have unexplained tooth loss.
8. Changes in vocalization
Any major changes in the sounds your cat makes could be worrisome. If your once quiet feline is suddenly purring louder and is much more vocal overall, it might be worth taking them to the vet.
9. Sudden changes in weight
If your cat or dog is suddenly shedding the pounds without a change in diet or exercise, it could be the result of a thyroid problem or even cancer. However, if your pet is suddenly gaining weight, that could point to heart problems or arthritis.
10. Runny eyes and nose
When your dog has a runny nose or eyes and has no other symptoms of the flu, it might actually be caused by respiratory problems. These symptoms, along with an increase in gasping for air or struggling to breathe, are major warning signs.
11. Not using the litter box
Cats don't enjoy leaving their waste exposed, so if your kitty stops using the litter box, urinary blockage could be to blame. When your pet starts going to the bathroom around the house, it's best to be safe and have it checked out. Similar behaviors in dogs could indicate infection or kidney problems.
12. Repetitive licking
Cats and dogs are both known for grooming themselves, but when the licking becomes repetitive to one area of their body, it is best to take them to your local vet.
13. Pushing head against objects
If your dog constantly stands with its head against the wall or other objects, it may be suffering from a serious head injury. Your pet's nervous system may be out of whack because of a infection, severe damage, or even a tumor.
14. Stooping and other unnatural positions
A severe arching of the spine, keeping their tail between their legs, or other unusual bodily positioning could indicate that your pet is in extreme pain. While such positioning could be the result of many different illnesses, one major cause of such behavior is often kidney stones.
15. Visible third eyelid
If your cat's third eyelid becomes visible for any extended period of time, it may be caused by viral infections such as panleukopenia.
16. Hiding and avoiding contact
If your dog or cat begins avoiding human contact and starts hiding, your furry friend may be in pain. These changes in behavior might also be caused by a major illness.
Severe limping is the easiest physical sign to notice in your pets. Unless you are positive of the limp's origin, it's best to have the injury checked out. Failure to do so may result in limited mobility or even amputation.
18. Bowel disorders or constipation
Major bowel disorders or constipation without change in diet could be a sign of various illnesses, including spinal cord trauma, tumors, or even poisoning. If your pet is experiencing fever or bleeding in any capacity, contact your vet.