When Illness Strikes: Caring for Your Sick Animal - Mature Health Center

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Originally published May 9, 2016, last updated June 1, 2016

When Illness Strikes: Caring for Your Sick Animal

When Illness Strikes: Caring for Your Sick Animal

You know your pet better than anyone else. And, in cooperation with your veterinarian, you can recognize signs of illness and provide the care and love your beloved pet needs to get well and stay healthy.

Jennifer Wilcox, a veterinarian who works with the Humane Society for Southern Arizona, says changes in behavior are the most common indicators of potential sickness.

“Decreased appetite plus decreased or increased thirst are major flags,” Wilcox said. “In cats, a ravenous appetite despite weight loss should have you calling your vet pronto.”

When in doubt, she adds, measure the volume of food and water your pet is consuming.

Additionally (though unappealing to some), every pet owner should know what normal pee and poop look like.

“Discolored, odorous urine or unformed stool are not normal and should be reported to your vet,” Wilcox said.

Reduced activity is also a key indicator.

“Dogs that don’t want to go for their daily walk or cats that ignore their favorite laser toy are cause for concern,” she said. “Cats hide illness better than any other pet. Your routine annual vet visit is crucial for catching subtle, early problems in your cat’s health.”

Wilcox says it’s never too early to contact your veterinarian if you suspect a problem.

“Don’t delay, but call your vet office or an emergency clinic right away,” she said. “It’s free, and they can help you decide if you’re dealing with a true emergency situation.”