My tummy hurts. I don’t feel so good. I gotta go lie down.
This article deals with Fermo, the Scottish terrier primarily. However, many of the suggestions are universal apply to both dogs and cats.
Observe your pet. Learn its normal habits and when they is a change from the normal routine, consider the possibility of an illness.
Unfortunately, when your pet is ill, it cannot describe the symptoms to you. Therefore, you must do some analysis and observation to determine if the symptoms indicate something serious warranting a call and/or trip to the vet. Stay calm, don’t panic but do act.
Before calling or taking your pet to the vet, get as much information about your pet’s symptoms as possible to help your vet with his/her diagnosis.
- Obvious physical problems
Check your pet physically for cuts, a wound, a lump. With your fingers, gently prod, probe and skim over its body to see if there any sensitive spots. Do this cautiously and very gently. Examine the entire body, the underside, between the paws, inside the ears but do so very gently to avoid exacerbating the injury if there is one.
- Observe your pet’s actions
Has your pet been scratching, gnawing or biting any areas, indications that there are areas of discomfort? If your pet has been scratching or biting a specific location, examine that area for a visible cause. Sometimes the spot of the irritation may have a tick, a flea or a mite embedded beneath the skin and the pet is scratching to remove it. Have your vet teach you how to deal with ticks as there is an easy to learn procedure for tick removal.
- Behavioural changes differing from regular routines
Has your pet been acting differently than normal? Is it lethargic, less active than normal? Perhaps not as enthusiastic about going for a walk as normally? Is your pet isolating itself from the family more than usual? In a spot other than its normal favourite ones? Is it avoiding certain locations in your home where it normally rests, snoozes or naps?Has your pet’s sleep pattern changed? Not sleeping in its regular way? Waking much earlier? Awake much more often? Or the opposite, sleeping much longer than the norm? Not waking at its normal time?
- Changes in bowel movements and urination
As unappealing as it may be, you must observe your pets bowel movements. First, is your pet urinating differently or having bowel movements which differ from the past? Is there a change in how it does its routine? Does it look like it is straining, having some kind of discomfort? Going more frequently than normal, maybe less frequently?Examine the stool or urine for visible irregularities. Is the pet’s stool significantly different than normal? Colour? Density? Consistency? Volume? Diarrhea? Same with the urine. Colour? Is it darker? Volume? Frequency?
These are very noticeable and observable routines which can indicate your pet has a problem. Your vet will want to know as much as possible about them when you attend their office.
- Change in eating habits
Is there a change in appetite? Is your pet eating in its normal way? Is it eating significantly more? Less? Drinking significantly different volumes of water than usual? Is it retaining the food or is there vomiting? Vomiting is not necessarily an indication of something serious. Pets will occasionally vomit if they have eaten something disagreeable. It may be a food that was too rich for its diet, perhaps too acidic, perhaps too different from what it normally eats. If your pet vomits, examine the vomit for discolouration, blood. How frequently has your pet vomited? A daily occurrence or frequent vomiting may indicate a gastrointestinal illness which needs professional attention without delay.Blood or dark bits in the vomit can be indications that your pet has eaten something toxic or dangerous. In this case, contact your vet immediately.
- Respiratory problems
Is your pet sneezing, coughing, wheezing? Is it having difficulty breathing? Again, an occasional sneeze usually is not worrisome but a repetitive or very frequent sneeze or a cough needs vet contact right away. Ant problem with breathing is an emergency situation and needs appropriate action immediately.
- Stay calm, act in a constructive, structured way
Just as we do, every pet will have the occasional “off day” where they do not seem to behave in their regular, normal way. Stay calm and assess the problem. If it does not seem to be life-threatening such as a breathing issue, give it a day for recovery. The next day, if the symptoms continue, call the vet and make the trip.Don’t jump the gun and overreact. Depending on your pet’s age, animals have strong resiliency and good recovery. Of course, as they age, these dynamics do not have the same vim and vigour of youth. Act accordingly.
We wish you and your pet continued good health.