As Summer is nearing an end and the holiday season is quietening down, you may have noticed some changes in your pet that you might have not seen before. In this article, we discuss changes to look for when you come home from your holidays. Read on to find out more.
Changes In Appearance
One thing you may notice in your pet, after being away from them, is a change in their weight. This can be due to a difference in routine whilst you were away which may lead to subtle weight fluctuations. However, in some cases, weight loss or gain could be a sign of something more sinister underlying. Marked loss of weight and muscle mass from the head can give a sunken appearance to the eyes and make the face look more angular. There may also be weight and muscle loss down the spine and around the ribs in both cats and dogs which if seen with a pot-bellied appearance can often be mistaken for weight gain. This can be a sign of fluid accumulation in the abdomen which can be a result of heart failure, liver failure, increased organ size in the case of tumours, or diseases such as Cushing's disease in dogs. These diseases need a prompt diagnosis to give your pet the best outcome. You may also notice a change in your dog or cat's fur. Their once glossy coat may now be dull and dandruffy. For cats, you may find matting that you have not seen before. Significant matting of the coat can indicate pain in cats where they have been overgrooming. Similarly, dogs may lick excessively in one area due to pain so both under-grooming and overgrooming should be further investigated. For cats who have lost weight and have an unkempt coat, this could be an indication of an overactive thyroid, whereas weight gain and loss of fur in dogs can indicate an underactive thyroid. Both of these conditions are treatable and can be diagnosed with a blood test.
Changes in Thirst and Appetite
Changes in thirst can also indicate an underlying condition in geriatric pets. Whilst it’s hard to measure what cats drink if you notice them drinking from a running tap, a glass of water, or even the toilet (and this is unusual for them), this could be a sign of increased thirst. For dogs, you may feel like you are filling up their water bowl more often, they may ask to be let out more or even have accidents in the home. An increase in thirst, in both cats and dogs, can be a sign of kidney or liver disease (which are increasingly common in older pets). It can also indicate diabetes, an overactive thyroid in cats, Cushing's disease in dogs, or a change in hormone levels released by certain cancers. For dogs, try to collect a urine sample into a clean pot to take to your veterinary appointment and if you can measure the water intake over a 24-hour period, this would be useful too. It is important not to restrict access to water even if your pet is having accidents in the home. They are drinking more than normal for a reason so diagnosis is important.
As we all know, cats can be very fussy about their food so they can have a reduced appetite for all sorts of reasons but, as with dogs, if this is sustained over more than a few days, it is best to have them checked over by your vet. This could be a sign they are feeling sick or in pain. Similarly, if you notice your dogs or cats eating all the time in a manner that is not normal for them, this could be an indication that they have diabetes or a tumour. For cats, it’s also another sign of an overactive thyroid, and for dogs a sign of Cushing’s disease.
Reduced or unusual activity in cats and dogs should be investigated.
Cats are notorious for sleeping all day, so reduced activity can be hard to spot but if you feel that they are becoming less active and sleeping more than you expect, or if they are hiding and choosing not to interact with you as they would normally do, this could be a sign of distress. Cats show their pain differently from dogs and often change their behaviour. For example, they may become timid, sleep more, or even become aggressive.
Dogs may slow down on walks, or refuse to go altogether. They may show signs of stiffness or reluctance to jump into a car. If they become more vocal and clingy, this could also be a sign of pain. You may notice them becoming unsteady on their legs, walking in an uncoordinated way (which is called ataxia), and struggling to hold their own body weight when toileting. These symptoms could be an indication of a neurological issue or arthritis. Your vet will be able to help you with diagnosing the problem and recommending appropriate treatment.
Both cats and dogs can start to display unusual behaviour, such as pacing, vocalising, bumping into objects, or staring at a wall during the day but also at night. These can be signs of senile changes, a bleed on the brain or in the eye, or a brain tumour which indicate a visit to your vet is needed.
When to Seek Veterinary Help
If you notice any of these changes in your pet, it’s best to get them checked out by your veterinarian. Early diagnosis, intervention, and advice from them will give your pet the best chance in life and prepare you for the road ahead. So how can Roundwood Pet Hospice help? We are here for those patients with inoperable tumours or life-limiting diseases where treatment is not an option. Our aim is to support pets and their owners so they can live their best lives to the end and to offer home euthanasia in peaceful surroundings when the time comes. To learn more about our hospice care and in-home euthanasia options, ring us today at 0800 0495944, or email us at email@example.com.