Recognising When You’re Pet Is Unwell and When The Time Is Take Them to A Veterinarian

October 15, 2023

Author: Mark Ehrman

worried owner checking her dog

Our pets are cherished members of our families, offering companionship and joy that enriches our lives. It’s natural we want to keep them healthy and happy. But what do you do when your pet isn’t feeling their best? Regular check-ups are a crucial step in preventing your pet from falling ill.

At Matraville Veterinary Practice, we provide caring general veterinary care to ensure your pet’s well-being.During each appointment, your veterinarian takes the time to perform a thorough physical examination of your furry friend. This examination covers the assessment of their eyes, ears, oral health, teeth, skin, coat, chest listening, abdominal examination, and temperature check.

This article explores the signs that your pet might be unwell and offers guidance on when it’s time to seek professional help from a veterinarian.

Signs Your Pet is Unwell And Needs To Go To The Vet

Woman With Her Dog On A Visit To Vet

1. Changes in Appetite

One of the most common indicators of a potential health issue in your pet is a significant change in their appetite. If your usually voracious eater suddenly loses interest in food or, conversely, starts consuming more than usual, it may be a sign of an underlying problem. For example, sudden loss of appetite can be linked to dental issues, infections, or gastrointestinal problems, while overeating can lead to obesity or other health concerns.

2. Lethargy and Weakness

If your pet is typically lively and active but suddenly becomes lethargic and weak, this can be a red flag. Lethargy may manifest as reluctance to play, exercise, or even move. These symptoms can be indicative of a range of issues, such as infections, pain, or even more serious conditions, and should not be ignored.

3. Changes in Behavior

Animals are creatures of habit, and abrupt changes in their behaviour can be a signal that something is amiss. Aggression, excessive vocalisation, hiding, or other unusual behaviour patterns may suggest pain, stress, or illness. Paying close attention to your pet’s behaviour can help you identify issues early.

4. Respiratory Distress

Laboured breathing, coughing, or wheezing are signs of respiratory distress in pets. This can be indicative of respiratory infections, heart problems, allergies, or other pulmonary issues. Respiratory problems can escalate rapidly, so if you notice any of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian promptly.

5. Digestive Problems

Vomiting, diarrhoea constipation, or blood in stool are all clear indicators that your pet’s digestive system is not functioning as it should. These issues can result from a wide range of problems, including dietary indiscretion, infections, or more severe conditions.

6. Excessive Thirst and Urination

Changes in your pet’s drinking and urination habits can be a sign of underlying health issues. An increase in thirst and urination might indicate diabetes, kidney problems, or hormonal imbalances. Monitoring your pet’s water intake and bathroom habits is crucial in recognising these signs.

7. Skin and Coat Issues

A dull, unkempt coat, excessive shedding, rashes, lumps, or bald patches are all signs that your pet’s skin and coat may be in distress. These symptoms can be attributed to allergies, parasites, skin infections, or underlying medical conditions.

8. Weight Changes

Unexplained weight loss or gain can be an early warning sign of health issues. It might be due to a lack of appetite, metabolic changes, or more severe conditions like hyperthyroidism or cancer. Regular weigh-ins and monitoring of your pet’s body condition can help you catch these issues in their early stages.

9. Swelling and Lumps

Finding unexplained lumps, bumps, or swellings on your pet’s body can be a cause for concern. These could be benign growths, cysts, or, in some cases, tumours. It’s essential to have these examined by a veterinarian, as early detection and intervention can be critical.

10. Changes in Urine or Faecal Output

Alterations in the colour, smell, or consistency of your pet’s urine or faeces may indicate kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal issues. Pay attention to any changes and consult your vet if necessary.

If you notice one or more of these signs in your pet, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian. Early detection and prompt treatment can often lead to better outcomes. Trust your instincts as a pet owner, and if something doesn’t seem right, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can also help identify potential problems before they become serious.

Most Common Reasons Pet’s Become Unwell

Fluffy Sick Cat

Pets can find themselves unwell due to a variety of reasons, just like humans. While it’s essential to remember that every pet is unique, some common reasons for pets becoming unwell include:

Infections: Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can affect pets. Common examples include respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.

Parasites: Fleas, ticks, mites, and intestinal worms can infect pets, leading to a range of health issues. Parasite prevention and regular deworming are essential.

Dietary Issues: Poor diet, overfeeding, or ingesting toxic substances can result in gastrointestinal upset, food allergies, and nutritional deficiencies.

Age-Related Conditions: Older pets are more prone to age-related conditions, such as arthritis, dental disease, and organ dysfunction.

Allergies: Pets can develop allergies to various substances, including food, pollen, or environmental allergens. Allergies often manifest as skin problems or gastrointestinal issues.

Injuries: Accidents and injuries can happen to pets, resulting in wounds, fractures, or other trauma.

Toxic Exposures: Ingesting toxic plants, chemicals, or medications can be life-threatening. Some common toxins for pets include chocolate, antifreeze, and certain houseplants.

Dental Problems: Dental issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and oral infections can cause pain and discomfort for pets. Regular dental care is essential.

Obesity: Obesity is a growing concern among pets and can lead to various health problems, including diabetes, joint issues, and heart disease.

Stress and Anxiety: Environmental changes, separation anxiety, or fear can lead to behavioural and physical health issues, like hair loss, gastrointestinal problems, and aggression.

Cancer: Pets, like humans, can develop cancer. It’s one of the leading causes of death in older pets. Early detection and treatment are critical.

Inherited or Genetic Conditions: Some breeds are predisposed to specific genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia in certain dog breeds.

Lack of Vaccinations: Failure to keep up with vaccinations can leave pets susceptible to preventable diseases.

Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal issues, like thyroid problems or diabetes, can disrupt a pet’s overall health.

Organ Dysfunction: Liver, kidney, and heart diseases can affect pets and may not show obvious symptoms until the disease is advanced.

Environmental Factors: Extreme weather conditions, such as heat stroke during hot weather or frostbite in cold weather, can pose a risk to pets.

Inadequate Exercise: Lack of physical activity can lead to obesity and associated health problems.

Poor Hygiene: Neglecting grooming and hygiene can result in skin issues and discomfort for pets.

It’s crucial for pet owners to be vigilant about their pet’s health, seek regular veterinary check-ups, and be attentive to any changes in behaviour, appetite, or physical condition. Prompt veterinary care can often prevent minor issues from escalating into serious health concerns and ensure that your pet lives a long, healthy, and happy life.

What Happens If You Don’t Take Your Unwell Pet To The Vet?

Vet Nurse Examining Cat Ears

If you don’t take your pet to a vet when they are showing signs of illness, there can be several negative consequences, both for your pet and for your peace of mind. Here are some of the potential outcomes of not seeking veterinary care when your pet is unwell:

Worsening Health Conditions: Many illnesses and health issues can progress and worsen over time if left untreated. What might initially be a minor concern could escalate into a more serious, potentially life-threatening condition.

Prolonged Suffering: Your pet may experience prolonged discomfort, pain, and distress without treatment. This can lead to a decreased quality of life for your furry friend.

Missed Opportunities for Early Intervention: Early detection and treatment are often crucial for successful outcomes in many health conditions. Delaying a visit to the vet can result in missed opportunities to address the issue in its early stages.

Increased Treatment Costs: In many cases, treating an advanced or complicated health issue can be more costly than addressing it in its early stages. Not only may you have to pay for more extensive treatments, but your pet’s recovery may also be more challenging.

Emotional Stress: Watching your pet suffer or seeing their health deteriorate can be emotionally taxing for pet owners. Seeking timely veterinary care can provide peace of mind and alleviate the emotional stress associated with your pet’s health.

Risk of Spreading Infectious Diseases: If your pet has a contagious illness, not seeking treatment can put other pets, and even humans in your household, at risk of contracting the disease.

Legal Implications: Neglecting your pet’s medical needs might, in some cases, have legal implications. Failing to provide necessary care could result in legal consequences depending on local animal welfare laws.

Strained Bond: Your bond with your pet may be strained if they associate you with discomfort and distress due to lack of care. This can lead to behavioural issues and a breakdown in the human-animal bond.

Neglecting to take your pet to the veterinarian when they are unwell can have severe consequences, both for your pet’s health and your relationship with them. To ensure the best possible quality of life for your beloved companion, it’s essential to prioritise their well-being and seek professional veterinary care when needed. Regular check-ups and open communication with your veterinarian can also play a vital role in maintaining your pet’s health and addressing issues before they become serious. Book an appointment with Matraville Clinic today!

Got a question?

We’re here to help you with any urgent enquiries or assistance you might need. Need a little extra help, or not sure if you should bring your pet in for a check-up? Give our team a call and we’ll happily answer your questions.