Your pet may not be able to recite Shakespeare’s sonnets or sing the Star-Spangled Banner, but, believe it or not, your furry, four-legged friend can talk. If you pay close attention, your dog or cat can communicate with you when something is wrong with his health.
Check out this list of common pet health care issues, and learn how to identify when your pet is trying to tell you that something’s wrong.
Tooth decay is one of the most common health care problems for dogs and cats. If you neglect brushing your pet’s teeth regularly, bacteria living in the mouth can enter the bloodstream through decaying, infected teeth and gums. The harmful bacteria can cause swelling and bladder infections. Rotten teeth also make it painful for your pet to chew her food and get proper nutrition.
Dental hygiene problems are common, but can be easily avoided with regular brushing and veterinary care. In between vet visits, watch out for the signs of tooth decay. Notice whether:
- Your pet’s gums bleed when chewing on toys
- Your pet only uses one side of her mouth to eat food or doesn’t really chew at all
- Your pet pulls away when you massage her cheeks
These signs may let you know that your pet needs veterinary dental care.
Obesity is another of the most common pet health problems. You may be tempted to laugh off Fido’s “big-boned” heft, but obesity can actually cause a number of pet health problems including skin inflammation, heart disease, and diabetes, among others.
Your pet can tell you that he is overweight in a number of ways. If you see a large tummy from his profile view, can’t feel his ribs, or notice that he is often short of breath, it is probably time to consult veterinary care about a diet plan for your pet. The ideal size of a pet varies by breed, so rely on your vet’s help to determine the proper weight range for your particular pet.
Skin problems are another of the most common health issues that veterinarians treat. Your pet can tell you that his skin is bothering him if he licks, chews, or scratches a certain spot excessively. Look for skin patches that are red and irritated or have lost fur — these are possible indications that your pet has skin problems, perhaps caused by allergies, bacterial infections, or bug bites. Raw areas on the skin may also indicate an internal problem, such as a break or sprain, as dogs will lick a painful area in an attempt to heal themselves.
Fleas are a specific type of pet skin problem that you can also easily identify. More than just a nuisance for you and your family, the presence of fleas can lead to serious health care problems like anemia in pets.
Your pet will tell you if he’s got fleas: he’ll scratch! Also watch for the usual signs of skin problems and check his belly regularly for small, black spots known as “flea dirt.” You may even be able to see fleas crawling on his skin — especially around his hindquarters or neck.
Your Pet’s Demeanor
A pet’s health problems will often manifest as pesky behavior issues that might include destructive chewing, excessive barking, or urinating indoors. Fido isn’t simply being a bad dog when he does these things repeatedly; these behavior problems might be his way of telling you that there’s something wrong with him physically. When behavior problems persist, a vet visit may be a good idea to determine whether there’s a health issue behind the bad behavior.
Also keep in mind that a pet may “act out” when her routine is altered or she gets over-excited. As you live with a pet, you will come to recognize the differences in the clues that your pet’s behavior tell you.
How to Listen to Your Pet
The key to identifying pet health care issues is to pay close attention to your pets. Pay special attention to each animal every day, and watch for any sudden changes in a pet’s behavior. Be open to listening to what your pet has to tell you about his health; he’ll also be able to communicate to you when he feels great!