Pets enrich our lives each day by providing love and companionship, but they require care and attention in return. Observing your pet and remaining vigilant about physical or behavioral changes can help you detect health problems before they snowball into advanced conditions, helping to safeguard their quality of life and extend your furry pal’s healthy years. The Town & Country Animal Hospital team explores crucial signs that indicate your pet requires veterinary attention.

1: Appetite or weight changes in pets

Increases or decreases in appetite or weight are clear signs that your pet’s body is malfunctioning. Sometimes the problem is simple and requires only a diet change, but often veterinary investigation and treatment are required. Common causes include metabolic disorders, hormonal disorders, organ dysfunction, gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, infections, or digestive disorders.

2: Altered activity patterns in pets

A lack of interest in play, increased sleepiness, or reduced ability to exercise may indicate pain, acute illness, or a chronic disease. Heart problems, anemia, low thyroid, or pain are a few of the many possible lethargy causes in pets. Alternatively, an energy increase in an older pet without explanation can also indicate a problem, usually with hormone balance.

3: Drinking or urination habit changes in pets

Water intake and urination frequency are closely linked, and increases in both can indicate possible urinary or endocrine difficulties, such as kidney disease or diabetes. Most people think that increased urination or accidents in the house are because pets drink too much, and they try to limit their water intake. However, a pet whose drinking increases is usually compensating for excess water losses, so limiting water only worsens their condition.

4: Breathing changes in pets

Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing are common in acute respiratory infections or chronic conditions, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis. Additionally, subtle changes in breathing rate or effort can indicate significant heart or lung problems, such as fluid build-up. 

5: Digestive disturbances in pets

Vomiting and diarrhea are obvious signs that your pet is sick, but they’re not always a cause for concern. One-off episodes are typically nothing to worry about, but chronic issues or recurrent episodes require investigation into possible causes, which could originate from the GI tract or elsewhere in the body, such as the liver or pancreas.

6: Skin and coat abnormalities in pets

Skin and coat changes are among the most common reasons pets visit our veterinary clinic. A variety of diseases affect the skin, including allergies, parasites, and auto-immune disordersthe reason why the veterinary dermatology specialty exists. Contact us if you notice hair loss, itching, redness, flaking, excess oil, dark patches, or other skin abnormalities.

7: Behavior changes in pets

New or increased aggression, anxiety, restlessness, or social withdrawal often signals an underlying physical health problem. Without looking for and treating the behavior’s cause, your pet is unlikely to improve. Common explanations for behavior changes include thyroid disease, neurological disorders, and cognitive dysfunction.

8: Bad breath in pets

Bad breath isn’t normal in dogs and cats, despite popular opinion. Foul breath is occasionally caused by your pet’s food, but a buildup of plaque and bacteria causing dental disease is the most likely explanation. Other possibilities include acid reflux, kidney disease, and diabetes.

9: Mobility problems in pets

Reduced mobility is a telltale arthritis sign, but your pet doesn’t have to slow down. Many treatments are effective in reducing arthritis-related pain and inflammation, including medications, alternative care, rehabilitation, and supplements. In some cases, mobility issues are caused by other disorders that may benefit from surgery.

Understanding and recognizing potential health issues in your pet helps to ensure early disease diagnosis and a longer, healthier life. Contact the Town & Country Animal Hospital team if you have questions about your pet’s “normal,” to schedule a routine wellness care visit, or whenever health issues arise and your furry pal needs urgent attention.