Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Pet Health Awareness means many things in my mind: It means, I'm aware of the need to save up for an
upcoming scheduled vet visit (and when you have six pets in the house, there is always an upcoming vet visit); it means knowing if I am going to be away for a day of meetings I need to make sure someone will be around to walk the dogs and make certain the water dishes are filled; if I travel it means I need to make certain that whomever is home will remember to feed the animals on the schedules they're accustomed to and that they will remember to give Henrietta her pill every morning.
What being "Pet Health Aware" meant to me last week was that I noticed Henrietta, the Diva Poodle, wasn't acting quite herself. I've been coping with her partially torn ACL and making sure she isn't dashing around the house like she's in an agility competition, making certain she gets her medication and making sure her steps are in place so she can easily get on and off the furniture.
On Tuesday, though, she was acting a bit lethargic and shied away when I went to pet her head, I knew something was up. In the afternoon she yiped when I petted her and then she burrowed into her bed and stayed there — not even coming out to beg part of my sandwich when lunch time rolled around.
On Wednesday, when I touched her anywhere on the head or shoulders she would spin away from my touch and yipe. Not normal behavior. I called the vet, they got us in three hours later and discovered Henrietta had a bad ear infection. She's had ear infections in the past and they manifested in head shaking and head rubbing. I now have to be aware that this is the new way an ear infection will show itself.
We got into the vet. She got treated and is on a new medication and ear cream for the next ten days. What if I hadn't been in tune with her moods and her behaviors?
As pet owners we understand and interpret our pet and his or her unique quirks. Henrietta, for example, will only stare when she has to go do some "outs." If you notice her staring and ask if she has to "do outs" she will dash to the door. If you didn't know her or her signals, chances are you'd have a mess on the carpet. When it's raining why does she stare at the kitchen drawer? It's where her rain coat is and she won't go out in the rain without it. A "successful" trip to do outs leads to a lot of spinning and dancing in front of the refrigerator. Why? That's where the carrots are and that is the treat for outs. Imagine if your pet had to live with, or stay with someone else for an extended period — or even a day — would you remember to tell the sitter about the quirks? Something to think about.
What can you do to make certain you are aware and in tune with your pet's moods and the signals he might be trying to send you if he doesn't feel well? Here are some tips I gleaned from my many trips to the veterinarian:
- How is his appetite? Loss of appetite or interest in food or snacks could be a sign that something's not right.
- Is she still drinking water?
- If you touch her does she shy away or yipe or give other signals that she is not enjoying your touch?
- Does he refuse to follow commands that he typically would?
- Do you notice any signs of a limp or of him favoring one part of his body?
- Are there outward signs like vomiting or diarrhea?
- Conversely do you notice that she isn't "doing outs" when you take her out?
- If she is typically gregarious, has her personality changed?
- Is your pet being growly with the other pets in the house?
- Is your pet seeking out places to hide? Henrietta will usually hide under a blanket or under the bed if she's not feeling 100%
Just as parents are the first line of defense and knowledge when it comes to their two-legged children and making a decision on whether a doctor is needed, so too is the pet parent the best, and most knowledgeable source for knowing that something "just isn't right." Our pets can't talk and tell us where, or if, they hurt. They rely on us to be loving pet parents and be able to interpret their silent pleas for help.
What quirks does your pet have? How can you tell if he or she isn't feeling well? I'd love to hear!