As a pet parent, I have strong maternal feelings and intuition when it comes to my furkids’ health. I am sure that parenthood is the same. Often, I know my pet is sick before they do! My dog might be lying beside me resting, and I get a feeling in my gut that something is not right. In five minutes, he will vomit. I am astonished, as is he since I was just asking if he was OK.
In the case of my cat, Monty, I became alarmed by his sudden weight loss, even though he was eating his normal portions. Blood work revealed his hyperthyroid disease. And recently, as readers are aware, Monty stopped eating altogether, became severely dehydrated and critically ill. He received two treatments of SubQ fluids and a steroid injection. An x-ray revealed a mass in front of Monty’s heart. I had been force-feeding him in an attempt to keep him alive. After receiving fluids, Monty began eating. I am happy to report that Monty is currently stable, eating, happy, and even playing! I am so grateful for each day that he feels well. Monty is 13 years old.
Do a visual check
Examining your pet’s body is an integral part of their wellness check. One night when my Cairn Terrier, Whitney, was lying beside me, I was stroking her and was alarmed to feel a large lump in her left rear leg. She had some fatty tumors, but I knew that this lump felt different, hard and attached. And this dreaded tumor was diagnosed as a sarcoma. It was thought that removing the tumor would buy Whitney some time. But it was not meant to be. She seemed to do great after the operation, but it was learned that, tragically, the cancer had spread. Whitney was 14½. I have no regrets about giving Whitney that chance. She had a quality of life right up until the end.
My Aussie, Ty, had developed an occasional cough, but he seemed otherwise OK. His energy level and appetite appeared normal. I was about to take Ty for a check up when Whitney became ill. Ty’s cough quickly intensified, and he began to collapse with the slightest exertion. He was diagnosed as having pulmonary hypertension, and I had to let him go at age 14.
Many years ago, my beloved horse, Toby, developed colic. This is a chronic stomach upset that can kill a horse. The local country vet came in the middle of the night and stayed there, giving Toby an injection and closely monitoring his condition as I walked, and walked, and walked him throughout the night. This veterinarian passed away many years ago, but I will never forget his commitment and dedication to the animals he served. I remember he charged me next to nothing after his all-night vigil. This was a true country vet, in all his finest, and he saved Toby’s life.
Watch for unusual signs
Your primary concern as a caregiver is to monitor your pet’s health for symptoms that are out of the ordinary. In my dogs’ cases, their conditions were terminal. Although Monty has serious health issues, treatment is giving him quality time, and for this I am very thankful.
Pets are affected by various health conditions, and some of them can be fatal. One of the best ways of keeping your pet healthy is by understanding the signs and symptoms of various health conditions. This way you will be able to take your pet to your veterinarian when you realize that he or she is not feeling well. You should also realize that the health of your pet will change with age. The older it becomes, the more frequent the visit to a veterinary clinic. Here are some of the ways that you can check for various conditions in your pet. As a senior, I can relate!
Take responsibility for your pet’s wellness
Regardless of the age of your pet, it is you who plays a major role in helping to fight illness and ensure that the pet remains as healthy as possible. You should bear in mind that the pet cannot describe its symptoms, but he or she can show signs of the disease. It can be scary to find out that around 10 percent of the pets that appear healthy to owners and even veterinarians are found to have diseases during the annual checkup.
There are certain symptoms that you can check for to determine whether your pet is unwell. For instance, if you find that your pet is biting or chewing more than usual, it could be a sign that it is suffering from allergy dermatitis. Here are the other signs that your dog may not be well. These are:
- Drooling or bad breath
- Excessive drinking and urination
- Change in appetite as a result of weight gain or weight loss
- Change in activity level. For instance, the pet may lose interest in things it formerly enjoyed
- Stiffness or being unable to climb stairs or rise
- Oversleeping or change in behavior or attitude
- Sneezing, coughing, excessive panting as well as difficulty in breathing
- Itchy or dry skin, lumps, sores or shaking head
- Red, cloudy, dry or runny eyes
- Digestive upsets occurring frequently/change in bowel movements
If your pet shows one or more of these symptoms, you should immediately contact a veterinarian. Unfortunately, you may be unable to immediately realize that the pet is sick. It is common for pet owners, including the most well-intentioned, to attribute these subtle signs with aging. And often, our pets will be very stoic and not reveal signs that they are sick.
How to diagnose and treat symptoms
Since the disease symptoms may not be obvious, your veterinarian may recommend certain testing for preventative care as part of the annual exam. The preventative care testing includes:
- Electrolyte and chemistry tests that are meant to evaluate internal organs and ensure that the pet is not dehydrated or that it is suffering from electrolyte imbalance.
- Tests to confirm whether the pet has infectious diseases such as tick borne illnesses or heart worm.
- A full blood count to rule out any chances of the blood related illnesses.
- Urine tests to check out for any cases of urinary tract infection as well as other diseases.
- X-rays to view internal organs/bones.
With these tests, the veterinarian will be able to confirm the status of your pet’s general health. No one knows your pet better than you do, and their care lies in your loving hands. Remember to be vigilant, feed a quality food and incorporate exercise to give your pet a long, healthy, and happy life.
Judy Endo is the author of Paws-itive Pet Tales. A lifelong resident of the Wilkes-Barre area, she has been a professional dog trainer/competitor as well as a lifetime animal lover and strong supporter of animal rescue. Contact: email@example.com