How To Tell If Your Pet Is Really Sick

The world of pets is a wonderful one. Your cute little (or big!) dog or cat can offer you health benefits from being around them, and tales exist of pets even saving their owners' lives. Once you've had a pet for a while, you really get to know them as individuals, especially as you care for them and learn all of their quirks, interests, routines, and more. For example, if you're a cat owner, you may notice your cat biting you to greet you. As it turns out, there's a reason why!

While taking care of pets is generally exciting and fun, it also comes with lower moments. Like humans, your animal partners can get sick, and it's not always as easy to tell. They can't verbally communicate their sickness to you, so how are you to know when they're under the weather, let alone what specifically is troubling them?

Pets offer some telltale signs when they're sick, but more than anything, you can tell they're sick by simply paying close attention to them. "What our sick pets can't say in words, they'll demonstrate through physical symptoms and behavior changes," explains Fetch by WebMD. Thus, if you notice your animal is acting "off" their usual behavior, you may want to pay them extra attention until you know for sure whether they're sick or not. Moreover, Fetch by WebMD notes that cat owners should be extra attentive. These feisty felines are more self-reliant and therefore don't present their sickness as clearly to their owners as dogs do.

These symptoms could mean you need to see a veterinarian ASAP

Sickness in pets can manifest in a number of ways just as it can in humans, and this makes it hard to always be able to tell if your pet is experiencing an illness. While you can — and should — pay attention to how your pet is acting and if they seem "off," there are also specific symptoms you can look for to determine if your pet needs medical attention.

According to American Humane, some clear signs of illness include a decrease in your pet's appetite, your pet hiding a lot when it doesn't usually hide, your pet having less energy than usual, your pet vomiting a lot or having a lot of diarrhea, and your pet having blood in its stool or urine.

Other symptoms to watch include any swelling on your pet's abdomen, your pet shedding more than usual (or balding), your pet having bad smells coming from their mouth or ears, your pet limping or having seizures, your pet having discharge run from its nose or mouth, and your pet being reluctant to use stairs.

All of these symptoms can indicate that your pet is sick either with an internal illness or a physical issue on the outside. If any of these are the case, you want to seek medical attention so that your pet's case doesn't worsen, especially if they've been occurring for 24-48 hours.

These pets should be watched, too

Pets outside of cats and dogs can require medical attention, too. Any number of animals can make good pets, after all, and they can all get sick. When it comes to fish, for example, Aquatic Veterinary Services warns that fish can exhibit several signs that they might be sick. Fish can experience changes in their coloration; they can grow bumps on their body; their fins can distort and become misshapen; their bodies can become asymmetrical; and they can grow ulcers. All of these signs indicate that your fish needs medical attention, especially before they have the chance to worsen. You should also watch their swimming movements. If their routine movements suddenly stop or they begin swimming in a confusing manner, they could be sick. 

Reptiles like lizards and snakes can get sick, too. According to Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection, signs that a reptile might be sick include increasing lethargy, too much time spent in its water bowl, sudden changes to its shedding schedule, and increased durations of hiding. You should also ensure that your reptile isn't limping, shaking, having strange saliva, struggling to climb surfaces, or growing any scabs or blisters. If any of these issues occur, you should seek medical advice. 

At the end of the day, we all want our pets to be happy and to live long lives. Now, you can keep an eye on your pets with these simple signs to give them the best chance at a long life with you.