Like humans, pets need regular medical care, because health changes can develop suddenly or slowly. But unlike humans, pets can’t verbalize that something is wrong. Tuning in to subtle changes in your pet’s behavior or appearance can help you catch potential health concerns early—when they are easiest to treat. The Peak City Veterinary Hospital team shares eight health warning signs that pet owners shouldn’t ignore.

1: Appetite changes in pets

A sudden or gradual appetite decrease in pets could signal underlying health issues. Appetite changes can occur with pain or lethargy from general illness, or they can signal a more specific disease or disorder. Possible culprits include gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease or dietary indiscretions, dental disease, or systemic disorders, such as kidney disease, infections, or cancer. 

An appetite increase can also signal a health problem, most often attributed to hormonal imbalances. Cushing’s disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes are the most common causes.

2: Weight changes in pets

Similar to appetite changes, weight changes can indicate a wide variety of underlying disorders. The problem could be related to nutritional imbalances or a health issue like kidney disease, thyroid disorders, GI disease, or diabetes. Weight changes are best detected by scheduling routine visits when our team can provide a nutritional consultation or run tests to find the underlying cause.

3: Activity changes in pets

Noticeable activity or energy level changes can indicate that your pet doesn’t feel well or is in pain. Arthritis commonly causes pets to slow down or stiffen. Although often attributed to age, arthritis pain is treatable and should not be ignored. Lethargy is also a prominent feature of many other illnesses that require a veterinary visit for a diagnosis.

4: Water intake changes in pets

Increased thirst or frequent drinking is a warning sign that your pet’s water-balancing hormones are out of whack or that your pet has a disease that causes chronic dehydration and increased thirst to compensate. Diabetes, kidney disease, urinary tract disorders, and Cushing’s disease are common causes. Increased water intake may be because of a direct influence on thirst, or because a pet’s urine production has increased.

5: Vomiting or diarrhea in pets

Most pets’ occasional vomiting or diarrhea is a consequence of their curiosity and indiscriminate eating patterns, but persistent, chronic, or severe episodes warrant veterinary evaluation. Stomach issues that keep returning can indicate infections, parasites, food intolerances, systemic diseases, or primary GI disorders.

6: Coat changes in pets

Pets can suffer from a range of skin diseases and disorders, with allergies and external parasites, which can each lead to serious discomfort and secondary infections, the most common. Some skin problems can also signal a more sinister underlying health issue or systemic disorder. Any skin or coat change, including greasiness, dryness, flakiness, redness, thickening, darkening, itching, or hair loss, should prompt a veterinary visit.

7: Behavior changes in pets

Your pet’s behavior can provide clues to how they are feeling and can often indicate health changes. Many problem behaviors, such as house soiling, anxiety, or aggression, can be traced to an underlying physical cause, such as chronic pain or a urinary disorder. Always consult our veterinary team before you try to resolve a new behavioral issue.

8: Foul odors in pets

Most dog owners are familiar with standard pet body odors, which tend to be worse in breeds with naturally oily or thick coats, but your pet’s “dog smell” shouldn’t be overwhelming. A particularly foul or unusual odor coming from your pet could indicate dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or an infected wound that requires immediate attention. 

Proactive health monitoring is essential for maintaining your pet’s quality of life. Early disease detection can improve treatment outcomes and add healthy years to your furry pal’s life. Contact the Peak City Veterinary Hospital team for additional guidance regarding disease signs in pets or to schedule a visit for routine wellness care.