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Symptoms that Dog and/or Cat Owners Should Not Ignore

SYMPTOMS THAT DOG AND/OR CAT OWNERS SHOULD NOT IGNORE
 
This is Part 1 in a 2 part series of symptoms that dog and/or cat owners should not ignore, and should seek veterinary attention right away. They are not in order of importance, as they are all important.
 
In these tough economic times, pet owners are looking for ways to save money on their pets. Unfortunately, this also leads people to delay seeking medical care because they’re uncertain if a visit to the vet is absolutely necessary. Most people know if a pet has collapsed, had a seizure, is bleeding, bloated, unable to walk, or has been injured they should see their veterinarian quickly.  But what about other, more subtle symptoms? When should you absolutely, positively take your pet to the veterinarian?  

We all want our pets to be healthy and well, but there are times in every pet parent’s life when one of our beloved pets may have an illness, injury, or medical condition necessitating a trip to their veterinarian.  I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Dwight Sinner of Siskiyou Veterinary Hospital in Medford, Oregon. *For more information, see bottom of blog*.   Dr. Sinner was kind enough to list the following symptoms in your dog or cat that pet parents should NEVER ignore and should contact their veterinarian right away.
 
 
Vomiting and/or diarrhea   Diarrhea:  A single bout of diarrhea is generally not a concern in dogs, but if it persists for more than a day, it can lead to dehydration, or it may indicate an underlying health issue and should be checked out by your veterinarian.  Bring your dog to the vet if his diarrhea continues for more than a day, or if you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, straining to defecate, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss.  Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy has diarrhea, as it can be an important indicator of serious diseases in young dogs.  There are many causes of diarrhea in dogs.  Some of them include: change in diet or food intolerance, ingestion of spoiled food, poisonous substances or toxic plant material, ingestion of an object.  Diarrhea can also be due to an allergic reaction, bacterial or viral infection, internal parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer or tumors of the digestive tract, colitis or gastroenteritis.  Stress can also cause diarrhea so having your pet sitter monitor your dog for diarrhea is very important since being away from you can cause stress.  Vomiting:  An occasional, isolated bout of vomiting may not be of concern. However, frequent or chronic vomiting can be a sign of a more serious condition such as colitis, intestinal obstruction or parvovirus.  If your dog’s vomiting is not an isolated incident, please bring him to the vet right away for a complete exam and diagnostic testing. Any of the following symptoms along with the vomiting would indicate contacting your vet right away: diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, blood in vomit, weight loss, change in appetite , increase or decrease in thirst or urination.  Your professional pet sitter at Kelly’s Pet Sitting will monitor your dog’s food and water intake, bowel and bladder habits and keep you and your veterinarian informed of any change in habits.
 
Seizures or convulsions Seizures can look like a twitch or uncontrollable shaking and can last from less than a minute to several minutes.  Some of the causes of seizures are: epilepsy, eating poison, liver or kidney disease, low or high blood sugar, strokes, or other conditions.  When the seizure stops they usually appear confused and unsteady.  Call your veterinarian right away to have him evaluated.  Some dogs may need to take medication to help control the seizures.  Your professional pet sitter will be able to administer medication while you are away and to notice any seizures and let you and your veterinarian know what transpired. 
 
Blood in urine or stool  If you notice your cat litter box has any blood in urine or stool, or if you notice blood in urine or stool of your dog, contact your veterinarian right away. There are many illnesses that may be causing this and it is best to get your pet evaluated and treated as soon as possible.  Your Professional Pet Sitter monitors your pet’s stools for any sign of illness.
 
Not eating for 1-2 days Because loss of appetite in dogs or cats can indicate illness, it is important to seek veterinary care if you notice changes in your pet’s eating habits, especially if your dog usually gobbles up their food & suddenly does not eat.  We have noticed in our pet sitting service that some pets may not eat the first day or possibly, the second day their owners are away.  We also know of various methods that may help your pet to eat.  At Kelly’s Pet Sitting, we ask if your pet normally nibbles or gobbles their food so we can maintain records of how your pet is eating.  That way, we can keep you informed and seek veterinary care if needed. We send daily updates to let you know how your pet is doing for your peace of mind.
 
Inability or painful urination and defecation There are many causes of inability or painful urination or defecation.  The treatment might be as simple as feeding a high fiber diet, giving plenty of water and laxatives as prescribed by your vet.  But it could be something more serious.  Get to know your pet’s normal pee & poop schedules so you can determine what is normal for your pet.  When you hire Kelly’s Pet Sitting to care for your pets, we always monitor your pet’s elimination and look for any signs of abnormality so we can alert the pet parent and take your pet to your veterinarian if indicated.
 
Unexpected weight loss or weight gain If you are feeding a regular, healthy diet to your pet that is appropriate to their breed, activity level, and size and suddenly your pet has an unexpected weight loss or gain, it is imperative that you take your pet for an exam with your veterinarian.  There are many causes for this ranging from thyroid disorders to diabetes, and many others. Your vet will let you know what diet and/or meds your pet may need in order to maintain their weight and health.
 
Increases in water drinking or urination or accidents in the house If you notice your pet drinking more water than is normal for them, or suddenly having accidents in the house with a house-trained dog, this can signal a lot of potential problems. For cats that are suddenly urinating outside of their litter box, this could be a symptom of a urinary tract infection, or other problem.  Excessive water intake and urination could be a sign of diabetes, kidney disease or other problem in your pet.  Please have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian, who will provide treatment. 
 
Weakness or collapse  In hot weather, heat stroke is a definite possibility. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of water if it is hot outdoors.  And keep them in a shady place out of the sun and be careful not to over-exercise them in the heat.  Keep them indoors when it is extremely hot.  Be especially careful with brachycephalic dogs (dogs with short noses) such as pugs, boxers, or any dog with a short snout, etc.) as they cannot breathe as easily as other dogs. If your dog should show signs of weakness or collapse, contact your veterinarian immediately.
 
Red or painful eyes and/or loss of vision Examine your dog and cat eyes and lids for signs of redness, discharge, cloudiness or change in eye color.  Be sure to protect your dog’s eyes from shampoo during bathing and please drive with your dog’s head inside of the vehicle, as debris or insects, as well as the wind drying out their eyes, can cause injury. If you notice your pet bumping into things, have your veterinarian do an exam.  They may have cataracts or other eye problems affecting their vision.
 
Tumors or lumps  You may be snuggled up with your canine buddy, and all of a sudden, you notice a lump. Before you freak out that it may be cancer, realize that most lumps are fatty tumors, and are more common in older pets.  Often these are benign, meaning not cancerous.  Fewer than half of lumps and bumps you find on a dog are malignant, or cancerous.  Still, it is best to let your vet evaluate the lump to determine if it is nothing to worry about or something that needs to be further evaluated.
 
*Dr. Dwight Sinner graduated from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, WA in 1982.  He has owned Siskiyou Veterinary Hospital since 1984.  He has special interests in dog and cat surgery, dental procedures, and knee stabilization procedures.  Siskiyou Veterinary Hospital is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM, and Saturdays, 8:00 AM – Noon and 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM.  After hour emergencies are referred to the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center at (541) 282-7711.  In his spare time, he enjoys time with his family, bicycling, hiking, and volunteering at his church.

DISCLAIMER: Of course, this list cannot explain every symptom that could indicate an emergent situation, so if in doubt, ALWAYS call your vet if you have concerns. 

At Kelly’s Pet Sitting in Medford, Oregon we have every client fill out a Veterinary Authorization listing the name and contact information for their vet, as well as names and descriptions of their pets.  All of our pet sitters are experienced in what symptoms to look for in your pets while in our care and to contact you and/or your veterinarian for advice and/or treatment.  We also have the number of the Emergency Vet in Medford should your veterinarian not be able to see your pet after hours

Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center 541-282-7711.  Pet Poison Number (1-888-426-4435 or 1-800-548-2423.  Sources: pet.webmd.com, dogtime.com