Cats and dogs can be surprisingly communicative with their owners, and pet lovers will often have a way of knowing when their animal companion wants to go for a walk or is thirsty or hungry. It may some as a surprise, however, that animals don't always let people know when they are feeling under the weather.
In fact, for dogs especially, showing weakness or signs of illness can be a sign of weakness. Because they are descended from wolves, dogs often hesitate to show this weakness for fear that the pack will abandon or turn on them as a result of their infirmity. Although dogs have been bred and domesticated for generations, some believe that a portion of this dislike for showing weakness remains strong today. This may help to explain why dogs often don't indicate to their owners that something is wrong until there is a big health problem.
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Because animals may not show obvious signs of illness and because they can't talk or tell their owners what is going on, it is very important that pet owners be watchful of potential problems. It is also important that pet owners know the signs that something might be wrong and that they learn when to ask a veterinarian about behaviors they are seeing.
When to Ask a Veterinarian
Although every animal is different, it is important to ask a veterinarian what is going on with your pet when your dog or cat is acting out of sorts for a lingering period of time. For instance, if your animal is lethargic, not eating or not interested in activities that he or she normally enjoys, you should considering speaking to a veterinarian to find out if there is some reason for the behavior. The longer your animal goes acting tired or refusing to eat or do routine activities, the more important it becomes to ask a veterinarian what is going on.
If your cat or dog is limping or favoring one let or paw, it may also be important to ask a veterinarianwhat is going on. Discomfort and problems walking can have a host of causes- some simple like simply getting something stuck in the paw pad and others more complicated and serious like arthritis or hip dysplasia. When the problems begin to become apparent, it is likely that your animal is really experiencing discomfort since the dog or cat may try to hide the difficulty for a while. As such, you should usually take action right away.
Excessive licking is another sign that you should consider speaking with a vet about what is going on. When a dog is licking itself repeatedly, this can be a sign of an allergic reaction or of a skin condition such as mange. Cats who like too often, on the other hand, may give themselves hairballs that can cause digestive issues.
These are just a few examples of situations where it can become important to ask a veterinarian what is going on. If you see any behavior out of the ordinary, you should consider having your animal checked. It may also be advisable to ask a vet online first about behaviors that you are seeing since a licensed and qualified online vet can help you to determine if behavior you are seeing is worth worrying about or not.