If you consider your pets as family members, you'll agree that their health and well-being are top priorities.
But as diligent as you may be about making sure they're happy and healthy, they can't outright tell you when they aren't feeling their best. That's why it's so important to watch out for symptoms that may indicate bigger problems. If your cats or dogs are experiencing any of the 10 warning signs below, it's definitely a good idea to take them to the vet.
1. If your cat or dog uncharacteristically starts having accidents in the house and drinks much more than usual, it may be a sign of diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or adrenal gland disease. Alternatively, if they're urinating much less frequently than normal, they could be dealing with a urinary tract problem or bladder stones. All of these symptoms are urgent and require a visit to the vet.
2. Occasional vomiting, especially with cats, isn't too out of the ordinary. However, if your pets are vomiting or having diarrhea multiple times a day, feeling lethargic, and don't have much of an appetite, it's time to see the vet. These symptoms could be signaling gastrointestinal illnesses or parasite infections that include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, or giardia. Blood in their stool or vomit could also indicate a foreign object in the stomach.
3. Pets experiencing stiffness, lameness, or difficulty rising could be suffering from hip or spine arthritis, disc disease, ruptured ligaments, or hip dysplasia -- all of which need attention and treatment from their vet.
4. A persistent lack of appetite could indicate fever, pain or stress, so it's important to bring your pet to the vet if it lasts for more than 24 hours. This is especially critical for cats as they can develop fatty liver, a potentially fatal disease. Decreased activity can also be a warning sign for major problems such as heart disease.
5. According to Dr. Karen Becker, "If the white area of your dog’s eye turns bright red, it’s a sign of inflammation or infection that signals one of several diseases. Certain disorders of the eye can lead to blindness, so any significant change in the appearance of your dog’s eyes should be investigated.”
6. Hair loss or itchy skin and ears could mean anything from fleas, ticks, mange mites and ear mites to endocrine problems, staph infections, fungal or yeast infections. Your vet can identify and work to treat the cause.
7. Persistent coughing should never be considered normal. It can be a symptom of heart disease, heartworms, bronchitis, pneumonia, lung diseases and kennel cough.
8. Dogs with a distended abdomen should get veterinary attention immediately. They could be suffering from internal bleeding or bloat, a life-threatening condition that happens when a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid.
9. Unexplained weight loss could be caused by metabolic disorders, neuromuscular diseases, cancer, and heart disease. If your pet loses more than 10 percent of their body weight, take them to the vet.