So what should you be keeping an eye out for?
Vomiting or Diarrhoea
While it can be perfectly normal for cats and dogs to vomit occasionally, a pet who is vomiting several times in a day needs to be seen by a vet. There can be a few reasons for vomiting, swallowing foreign objects, eating poisonous substances and gastric ulcers being a few.
We often get asked why animals eat grass. There is much debate on this topic, and one common school of thought is that perhaps it is soothing when they are feeling nauseous.
Ongoing diarrhoea too is a symptom that requires urgent attention, it can also be caused for several reasons, dietary indiscretions, internal parasites, infections, and gastro intestinal obstructions.
In the cases of both vomiting and diarrhoea it is important to get your pet to a vet promptly. Even aside from the original cause prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea can cause serious dehydration and electrolyte loss.
Difficulty urinating/More frequent urination
This is something to look out for in both dogs and cats.
In dogs, look out for changes in behaviour, for example: waddling, rather than walking, frequent urination, straining to urinate, or blood in the urine. Act immediately if you see any of these symptoms as your pet can decline rapidly from this point.
In cats, look out for the same symptoms as above, especially where a cat is attempting to urinate, and nothing is produced. Crystals or stones in the bladder create inflammation which can cause blood in the urine and inappropriate urination. If left untreated this can cause the urethra to block completely, which needs urgent medical attention as this can become life threatening within 24 hours.
Dogs and female cats are not prone to urethral obstruction it is most common in male cats. Keep an eye out for grumpiness, a large, painful tummy and vomiting. Not all these symptoms may occur together, but any combination of them is cause for concern.
Excessive thirst and urination can be an indicator of diabetes, but also of kidney disease. Both diseases can be well managed through regular medication.
This can be a sign that something is going on in both cats and dogs. In dogs, open mouth drooling can indicate jaw pain, from causes such as infection or fracture.
In cats drooling can be a sign of acute illness and should not go unchecked. It may indicate nausea, a sore mouth, or stress. Keep in mind too that purring in a cat is not always a sign of happiness, research shows that it can also be a sign of pain or stress. Don’t dismiss your cat’s symptoms as nothing to worry about if they are purring, as they may still be telling you all is not well.
Appetite or decreased activity
When these two symptoms persist concurrently it is best to seek advice. Lack of appetite can occur for several reasons including fever, pain or stress. If you see lack of appetite lasting more than 24 hours, call your vet clinic.
Increased appetite can be an indicator of several different illnesses which can be tested for by your vet including diabetes, cancer or thyroid disease. Diabetes and thyroid disease are generally conditions that can be well managed though regular medication and your pet can enjoy good quality of life.
A decrease in activity, or a change in exercise tolerance can be pinned on illness such as heart disease or arthritis. Has the change in tolerance come on suddenly or gradually over time? This is a situation where it is helpful to know what is ‘normal’ for your pet so we know how marked the decrease in activity is for them.
A cough, like so many things is far more concerning if it comes with another symptom such as a deceased appetite, lethargy or reduced exercise tolerance. If your pet has a prolonged cough, with co-existing symptoms it is definitely cause to see your vet.
There can be many reasons for a cough, kennel cough being one of the more well known and common, protective measure can be taken in the form of a vaccine for this. While the vaccine may not always prevent your pet contracting kennel cough, it will reduce the length and severity of the illness.
A cough is a common symptom of illness in dogs but is not necessarily a cause for concern, a judgement needs to be made based upon other presenting symptoms.
Stiffness and Lameness
Pets that have trouble with stiffness, lameness, inability to bear weight on one leg, or trouble rising from the ground may have hip or spine arthritis. Owners often seem to accept these symptoms as an inevitable sign of ageing, however the condition can be very well managed to keep their quality of life and mobility excellent. There are treatment options ranging from nutraceuticals to anti-inflammatories to assist with easing the symptoms of arthritis.