Minor symptoms like bad breath or smelly discharge may not be so minor after all. They could indicate the onset of a serious ailment. To keep your pet healthy, learn how to detect these tiny warnings.
By Dr. Sangita Vengsarker Shah
Just as diagnosing an illness is the vet’s job, detecting signs of any ailment is yours! The following are some of the most common signs of pet illnesses.
However, these are not all inclusive and any irregularities should be discussed with your vet.
Discharge or odorous pus from the eyes, nose or ears may suggest an infection.
Bad breath or halitosis can be due to ulcers, inflammation of the gums or bad teeth.
Pale or bleeding gums may indicate a nutritional deficiency.
Coughing or sneezing may indicate a number of illnesses ranging from a mild upper respiratory infection to a serious heart problem.
Dandruff, loss of hair and a dull coat may occur due to any skin problem, a nutritional deficiency or a systemic illness.
Lumps or growths on the body, either malignant or benign should be checked promptly. They could suggest allergy or skin diseases.
Limping or lameness may be due to a sprain, fracture or arthritis.
Loss of appetite: If your pet skips a meal or two, do not be unduly worried. But if he stops eating for more than two days, he could have a viral infection, a gastro-intestinal upset or fever.
Increased appetite: An increase in appetite may be due to worms, calcium or phosphorous deficiency or a thyroid problem. Increased water intake maybe due to diabetes or a kidney disorder.
Increased urination or straining to urinate can indicate stones in the urinary tract, or a prostrate or vaginal infection. Check if there is blood in the urine. If present, see if it is before, during or after urination.
Urinary Incontinence is often seen in spayed females as a result of hormonal imbalance. It could also be due to a urinary tract disorder, injury, a congenital defect or bladder stones.
Vomiting: A dog or cat may vomit after overeating or eating too fast. A single instance is no cause for concern, but if vomiting persists, it could mean that your pet has eaten spoiled food. Vomiting may also be due to a variety of other cause like worms, kidney or liver disease, ulcers, poisoning or even viral diseases like distemper. Tell your vet the contents of the vomit; i.e. food, bile or blood. Blood may be seen as a red, brown or black discolouration.
Diarrhoea: This may be due to spoiled food, bacterial and viral infection, intestinal parasites or poisoning. Observe the colour and consistency of the stools and whether blood is present.
Constipation: This is usually due to a lack of fibre in the diet. If your pet is straining and has hard stools, try adding vegetables to the diet. Increasing his exercise will also help in relieving constipation. However, if constipation is accompanied by stomach rumbling, bloating and obvious discomfort, take your pet to the vet, since the digestive tract may be blocked.
Increased frequency of bowel movements: The most common cause of this is worms, so ensure that your pet is dewormed. It can also be caused by anxiety, stress or inflammation of the colon.
Excessive head shaking maybe signs of an ear infection, ear parasites or water in the ears.
Breathlessness: Heavy breathing after exercise is normal in dogs, but if breathlessness persists or your pet gets bouts of breathlessness, it may be signs of a respiratory or cardiac disease.
Behavioural changes: Hiding under beds and anxiety is seen just before delivery. Any other behavioural changes like biting, growling or excessive affection could be due to rabies and should be reported to your vet immediately.