It’s not always easy to tell when your pet is feeling under the weather. Your puppy, for instance, may be sleeping for longer periods of time during the day. But is it ill or just slowing down with age? Or, perhaps, you’ve noticed that your dog is constantly lapping up water. Again, is your canine sick, or is it just thirsty because the weather has been unseasonably warm? Unfortunately, many symptoms – including the following five – can be very subtle and easily dismissed as a normal, everyday issue, when in actuality, they could be signs of a serious health issue.
1. Frequent Urination
Tammy’s eight-month-old Labrador Retriever was suddenly having numerous bathroom accidents, even though it had been house trained for several months. Fortunately, Tammy was an experienced dog owner who sensed that her pup was not just regressing in its bathroom training but that there might actually be something seriously wrong with him. A vet check revealed that her pup had become infected with the leptospirosis bacteria, which had damaged its kidneys. Treatment eventually cured the lepto, but the pup’s kidneys were irreversibly damaged.
Frequent urination can also be a sign of a number of other health conditions, including urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney stones, or Cushing’s disease. So, it’s important never to assume that a pet that is having “accidents” is doing so because it is lazy or is a “bad” cat or dog. Instead, this type of behavior typically warrants a trip to the veterinarian for a thorough examination.
Is your normally active pet suddenly sleeping more than usual? Of course, most cats and dogs will gradually slow down with age. But if you notice that your pet has become very lethargic, it may be a sign that it has a serious illness, such as parvovirus or Lyme, or that its body is battling an aggressive form of cancer. In dogs, lethargy can also be a sign of heartworm disease, which can be fatal.
3. Coughing and/or Trouble Breathing
Coughs can be a symptom of a mild cold or a sign that your pet may have a serious health condition. Persistent coughing, for example, can be a symptom of heart disease in both cats and dogs. Unfortunately, heart disease is not an uncommon problem for pets. In fact, it’s estimated that heart disease affects about 7.8 million dogs in the U.S. – or approximately ten percent of the population. As for cats, it is estimated that about ten percent of the world’s cat population is also affected by heart disease.
Coughing can also be a symptom of heartworm disease in dogs or asthma in cats. Asthma is in fact one of the most commonly diagnosed respiratory problems in felines.
4. Unexplained Weight Loss
Do you have a pet that has a tendency to eat items that it shouldn’t, such as socks, or have you given your dog rawhide toys to chew on? If that pet has suddenly stopped eating, is vomiting, and/or is losing a lot of weight, it’s possible that it could have an intestinal blockage. Rapid weight loss could also be a sign that your pet is battling a serious health condition, such as lymphoma, diabetes, or a worm infestation.
Has your pet suddenly developed a limp? If you’re lucky, your pet may just have a burr stuck in its paw. But limping can also be a sign of a serious issue, such as a broken bone, a ligament tear, or a spinal injury. Lameness can also be a symptom of osteosarcoma or cancer of the bone.
Limping that changes from one leg to another can be a sign of Lyme disease in a dog. The inflammation caused by this disease may affect different joints at different times, which is the reason why the location of your pet’s lameness can appear so inconsistent.
If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, clearly you have the answer to the question “is my dog sick”. Keep a watchful eye on them, and if the problem persists or worsens, take them to the vet for a thorough examination. Hopefully, your pets’ condition will be minor and will be easy to resolve.
Even if the news is worse than expected, don’t despair. Many of the illnesses and conditions that were once considered fatal or required euthanasia are treatable today. And while some of the treatments can be very expensive, there are options available today that can help you pay for your pet’s medical care. For example, there are crowdfunding sites dedicated specifically for helping pet owners with high medical costs. In addition, some vets will offer a payment plan, but typically will do so upon request.