Think Pet Is Sick? How To Tell

on November 9, 2009
Posted in Cats

I’m usually in top dog shape! But every once in a while I over-eat something, over-scratch something, or over-lick something. And then, I end up feeling like one poopy-pup.

Lucky-dog me, my human Sage always knows how to help me. But for most humans, recognising when a pet has a case of the yacks can be hard to tell.

Lately I’ve been running around with my dawgs at doggie daycare. Like most preschoolers, we tend to pass bugs back and forth (I blame the red-headed bitch with the long, silky ears – she always has a runny nose. She’s cute, but contagious. We don’t share toys). This morning I woke up, not feeling my normal bouncing border collie self. I felt achy, droopy, sleepy, and just generally wrong.

Even though I ate my breakfast (it takes a lot for me to deprive myself) I almost hacked it up. Which I never do.
By mid-morning I was a coughing, wheezing mess. In my case, I had developed a crazy case of kennel cough. In addition to diffusing a lovely smelling aromatherapy blend of lavender, my human Sage went to work to make me as comfortable as possible.
A long stroke-session and a course of Respiratory Aid have done wonders, obviously.
Since most pets can’t speak human, and vice versa, we have no “OMD (OMCat, OMHamster, OMRat etc) I’m sick, get me some hot beef broth stat” – speak abilities. Thankfully, my human Sage is hip to my wag-less-ness, which she always wisely takes to mean I’m sick.
Some things humans should look out for:
– We don’t eat – show me a dog or a cat who can say no to something stinky, and I’ll show you a sick animal. Same goes for the little guys and their pellets. Enough said.
– We don’t want to move – come on, we love to play. Go out of your way to tempt us with a new toy – if we don’t bite, bark for the vet.
– We withdraw – while some of us are Scorpios (withdrawal is a typical trait, confirm it with this month’s horoscope), most of us just want to be alone when we’re sick. It’s not you, it’s us – and it always means something’s not right!
– We’re burning up – if we’re not eating and we’re not playing, we’re not busy burning calories. Clearly then, a fever is a sign that our bodies are burning up to fight a germ.
– We’re limping, swelling, oozing, bleeding, or smelling – translation: we have a serious infection, and we have pain! Help, help, help, help, help!
Any symptom above is reason to take your beloved beast to the vet, to ensure a proper diagnosis. In most cases it’s probably an allergy, virus or bacteria. The latter set, though, can indicate more than a nasty cold: some of us eat things we shouldn’t, or dig around in places we shouldn’t. Swellings shaped like shoes, infected wounds and broken bones need to be attended to immediately, so don’t delay!
Air-licks (I’m not getting you pals sick), Buster

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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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