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Signs to Never Ignore in Pets

Every pet owner tries to give their pet the best possible life by providing nutritious food, a safe environment, and proper veterinary care. Pets can’t tell us when they aren’t feeling well, don’t like something, or are scared, stressed, or in danger, however. A savvy pet owner will continually be on the lookout for clues about their pet’s well-being, and will take quick action to handle any problems that arise.

Top 25 Warning Signs Pet Owners Should Never Ignore

All pets are different, and while some pets will react quickly to problems, others may mask the symptoms of discomfort, illness, or stress. Pet owners should always be aware of their pets and watch for red flags such as…

  1. Appetite Changes If a pet’s appetite changes, either becoming ravenous or suddenly rejecting favorite foods, this can be a sign of illness, pregnancy, or tainted food, as well as mouth injuries or dental problems.
  2. Extreme Fatigue It’s perfectly normal for a pet to nap, especially after exercising, but excessive exhaustion can indicate injuries, illness, joint problems, anxiety, depression, or stress.
  3. Coughing The occasional cough is no problem, but if a pet continues coughing they may have a throat irritation. Different illnesses, heartworm, or toxic fumes can also cause coughing.
  4. Fever Any fever is a sign of an infection, and high fevers can be deadly. If a pet is panting excessively, has dry mouth, or dry, hot nose, they may be running a fever.
  5. Breathing Trouble A pet that can’t catch its breath, is gasping or choking, or is panting excessively could be suffering from throat obstructions, heart problems, heatstroke, or other dangerous issues.
  6. Urination Changes Changes to a pet’s urine output, either more or less, as well as darker than usual urine or difficulty urinating, could indicate kidney problems or urinary tract infections.
  7. Blood Any blood, anywhere, is always cause for grave concern, whether it is blood in a pet’s stool, urine, saliva, or vomit, blood from a wound, or blood from the mouth, ears, or nose.
  8. Fainting or Collapse While pets may recover from a simple faint in minutes, any collapse can still be a sign of epilepsy or other neurological disorders, as well as heart or lung problems.
  9. Bad Breath While a pet’s breath won’t smell minty fresh, a strong, foul odor is cause for concern and may indicate diabetes, dental problems, gum disease, kidney failure, or tainted food.
  10. Behavioral Changes If your normally friendly pet becomes aggressive, or an active pet suddenly slows down, or a docile pet is scared, this can be a sign of abuse or reacting to pain from injuries or disease.
  11. Bowel Changes All pets occasionally have diarrhea, but persistent problems including constipation or bowel color changes may indicate bad food, ulcers, or parasites.
  12. Swelling If any part of a pet’s body – abdomen, leg, joints, ears, throat, etc. – shows noticeable swelling, it should be checked immediately for internal bleeding, infection, tumors, or other problems.
  13. Eye Color Change If the whites of a pet’s eyes suddenly darken or turn red or yellow, that may indicate jaundice, ruptured blood vessels, infections, or irritations that could lead to blindness.
  14. Vomiting Vomiting should always be carefully noted, and excessive vomiting or dry heaves can be a sign of food allergies, parasites, diseases, or digestive problems related to feeding schedules.
  15. Pale Membranes If a pet’s gums, eyes, nasal membranes, or naturally bare skin is unusually pale, that can be a sign of anemia, blood loss, or shock and should be investigated.
  16. Limping A pet that is limping may have a strain, sprain, or even a broken bone. Limping can also indicate ligament or tendon tears, muscle pulls, arthritis, or other joint problems.
  17. Ear Problems An animal’s ears are very sensitive, and any foul odor, heavy discharge, swelling, or insistent shaking or scratching could mean an injury, abscess, or infection, or pests such as ear mites.
  18. Skin Irritation Any skin problems, such as hot spots, rashes, patchy hair loss, raised bumps, or nervous scratching or nibbling at the skin, could be a sign of mange, fleas, or skin allergies.
  19. Restlessness If a pet is unusually restless and may be pacing, whining, or agitated, they may be in pain or sick, or could be detecting dangerous odors or other threats, such as an intruder.
  20. Excessive Drinking It’s natural to be thirsty on a hot day or after exercising, but if the pet is never away from the water bowl, it could be a sign of kidney problems, diabetes, or heatstroke.
  21. Seizures A seizure may be as simple as a pet freezing unexpectedly or gazing off into space, or it can be as violent as convulsions. This can indicate nerve disorders, tumors, or toxic exposure.
  22. Bite Wounds If a pet has been bitten, it is important to investigate for possible infections or contamination, as well as to be aware of nearby dangerous wildlife, feral animals, strays, or pet escape routes.
  23. Eye Discharge If a pet’s eyes suddenly begin having a milky, pus-like, or colored discharge, they may have an irritant in their eye, or it could be a sign of infections, and if untreated, can lead to blindness.
  24. Vocal Changes Every pet owner knows their pet’s voice, but if that voice changes dramatically in tone, pitch, or pace, that can mean injuries, pain, distress, intruders, or other problems.
  25. Disorientation If a pet seems confused, loses balance, or becomes unresponsive to signals and commands, this can indicate excessive stress, mental declines, or different injuries.

No matter what the sign, it is important that pet owners always pay careful attention to their feathered, furred, and scaled friends, and take appropriate action to get their pet to the veterinarian for proper care when any warning signs appear.