Feed your pet at specific times and pick up any remaining food after an hour as opposed to leaving food down all day long. This feeding approach will keep you more in touch with your pet’s appetite and will allow you to more quickly discover the presence of’ disease.
If you have more than one dog or cat and can’t tell which one is sick then separate the two animals so you can tell which one may be vomiting, having diarrhea, or soiling the house, etc.
Make sure you regularly observe your pet’s urination and bowel movements. If you do not accompany your pet outside to eliminate or regularly check the litter box it may take several days before you realize he or she is having elimination problems..
Weigh and record your pet’s weight weekly. If your pet is not overweight and is found to be progressively loosing weight, you should become suspicious that there is a significant health problem.
Examine your pet from head to toe once weekly. And be aware of the warning signs of illness. See guidelines for a physical exam on the Woodside Animal Clinic wall chart.
Be able to recognize when your pet is in pain. Pain can show up as restlessness, panting, whimpering, lethargy, a rapid heart rate, lameness, a change in posture, an abnormal gait, a tense abdomen, reluctance to eat although hungry, head shaking. The presence of pain necessitates veterinary intervention.
Dehydration can be detected by checking skin elasticity. Pull up on your pet’s skin over its mid back and note how quickly it returns to its normal position. In a normally hydrated animal this should happen almost immediately. If your pet appears dehydrated make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Dry gums may also be evidence of dehydration.
Anemia may be detected by examining your pet’s gums and conjunctiva. If they are pale and not pink a serious problem may be present.
If your pet has an abnormal body odor then you should suspect that disease may be present. Such odors may result from an ear infection, heavy tartar and gum infections, mal-digestion and gas expulsion, anal gland disease, skin infections, abscesses or infected wounds, and stool or urine on feet, under tail, or smeared on hair coat.