Because you want your furry friend to be happy and healthy, you do your best to ensure you meet all their needs. However, pets can’t verbally communicate when something is wrong, and their owner is responsible for recognizing pain and illness signs. Knowing what to look out for can be crucial in catching potential health problems early, allowing for an easier treatment and better prognosis. Read our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team’s guide to common pet health issues and learn about 11 warning signs that you should never ignore.

#1: Your pet shows a sudden appetite change

If your pet suddenly loses interest in food or water, or conversely, starts eating or drinking excessively, they likely have an underlying issue such as dental problems, gastrointestinal (GI) issues, endocrine disorders, or organ failure. While minor fluctuations in your pet’s appetite and thirst are normal with weather and activity level changes, sudden significant aberrations require a veterinary exam.

#2: Your pet appears lethargic

You know your pet best and understand their daily routine. If your furry pal is normally active and playful, a sudden decrease in their energy level or the onset of unusually lethargic behavior could be an illness or pain sign. Lethargy paired with other illness signs, such as vomiting or diarrhea, warrants a veterinary visit.

#3: Your pet has persistent vomiting or diarrhea

While the occasional upset stomach is typically not a cause for concern, a pet’s persistent vomiting or diarrhea can indicate a serious issue such as infection, toxin exposure, GI problems, organ dysfunction, or a multitude of other significant issues. If your pet is experiencing frequent or prolonged vomiting or diarrhea episodes, seek veterinary care.

#4: Your pet is having difficulty breathing

Difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, or any other respiratory distress signs should never be ignored. These signs could indicate a range of problems including asthma, heart disease, or respiratory infection. Immediate veterinary attention is crucial if your pet is having trouble breathing to prevent the problem from taking a rapid turn for the worse.

#5: Your pet is drinking and urinating more than usual

Increased thirst and urination could be indicative of several health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalance. Monitoring your pet’s water intake and bathroom habits can lead you to suspect any issues before they become severe, allowing our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team to make a prompt diagnosis and begin intervention.

#6: Your pet experiences sudden weight loss or gain

Unexplained changes in your pet’s weight could be cause for concern. Whether your furry pal’s weight loss is rapid or their weight gain is sudden, our team must diagnose the underlying cause, which could range from dietary issues or metabolic disorders to heart disease or cancer.

#7: Your pet’s urine or stool changes

Any changes in the color, odor, consistency, or frequency of your pet’s urine or stool should be addressed promptly. Blood in the urine or stool, straining to urinate or defecate, or inability to do either could signal a urinary tract infection (UTI), GI problem, urethral obstruction, or other serious condition.

#8: Your pet’s behavior changes

Pets often exhibit behavior changes when they’re not feeling well. This could include aggression, withdrawal, agitation, or reluctance to engage in activities they previously enjoyed. Pay attention to any significant shifts in your pet’s behavior, as they can be clues that your four-legged friend is in pain or ill.

#9: Your pet has difficulty moving or persistent lameness

A mild muscle sprain can result in a slight limp for a few days, but minor injuries should resolve quickly with rest. Chronic or recurring lameness can be indicative of arthritis, tick-borne illnesses, ligament damage, orthopedic abnormalities, or neurologic issues. If your pet appears weak, is limping, or is having difficulty moving, seek prompt veterinary care to alleviate their discomfort and prevent complications.

#10: Your pet has developed a lump or bump

Regularly check your pet for any unusual lumps, bumps, or swellings on their body. While not all lumps are cancerous, your Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital veterinarian must evaluate your furry pal to rule out serious conditions and determine the appropriate treatment. Ongoing monitoring is also essential to catch early changes in a mass, such as sudden growth, discharge, or inflammation. 

#11: Your pet is experiencing eye problems

Pets can experience many ocular issues, including discharge, redness, irritation, swelling, and vision loss. These eye problems can rapidly worsen without prompt veterinary attention, causing significant pain and potentially leading to permanent damage. If you notice any changes in your pet’s eyes, schedule an appointment immediately.

By learning how to recognize pets’ illness warning signs, you can ensure your furry pal receives prompt veterinary care, preventing health issues from becoming serious. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when considering your pet’s health and well-being.

If you notice any abnormalities in your pet’s behavior or habits, schedule an appointment with our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team.