7 Important Symptoms that are Frequently Ignored

7 Important Symptoms that are Frequently Ignored

Tagged in: Dog , health , treatment , vet Author: Dr Robyn Chandler

As a vet, I’ve often seen a pet for a tiny cut on its paw when actually the poor animal has been suffering for a while from a serious chronic illness, whose symptoms have been largely ignored by the pet’s owners. It seems that the sight of blood tends to motivate people to get their animals to the vet, however they don’t realise the significance of the symptoms of the far more serious illness their pet has been suffering with for a while.


Here are some symptoms that you should not ignore:


Drinking more water


This can be a sign of kidney or liver failure, diabetes, Cushings disease, or even cancer. If you find yourself filling up your pet’s water bowl more often than normal, or that your animal is urinating larger amounts than before, you need to call your vet.


Weight loss


Unexplained weight loss is a serious symptom and can be caused by organ failure, cancer, thyroid disease or diabetes. If you notice that your pet has shed a few pounds too many, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.


Increase in appetite


Very seldom is a decrease in appetite ignored as a symptom, but an increase in hunger and food consumption is often not seen as a significant problem. This can be a classic sign of diabetes, hyperthyroidism or even cancer – do not ignore this.




A lot of cat owners assume that regular vomiting is due to furballs. Chronic inflammatory bowel disease is very underdiagnosed and is the most likely reason your cat is ‘a bit vomity’. As this can progress to intestinal cancer in time, it is important that you discuss this with your vet to get a diagnosis and a management plan in place. If the pattern of vomiting has just started or increased from what it used to be, it is extra important to take your cat to the vet soon.


Limping or stiffness


This is often seen as an ‘old age change’ and not recognised for what it means – your pet is in pain. People frequently say, “he’s not in any pain” when presenting a limping animal and vets remain perplexed by this. He wouldn’t be limping if that were the case - just as you or I would limp or struggle to stand up out of pain, so too does an animal.


In the case of limping or stiffness, please make an appointment with your vet to diagnose why your pet is painful, and to help keep them as comfortable as possible.


Exercise intolerance


Breathlessness or an increased effort needed for your pet to breathe is a serious and urgent symptom, and you should call your vet right away.


A sudden “slowing down” from your pet, no matter what their age, could indicate numerous diseases including heart failure, lung disease, liver or kidney failure, arthritis, cancer, or hormonal disease. So it’s a good idea to get your pet checked out.


Enlarged belly


A belly can be enlarged due to excessive gas, fat, fluid, an enlarged organ, or faeces. It can be a symptom of bloat, constipation, hormonal disorders, heart failure, a tumour or internal bleeding. It’s really dangerous to ignore this symptom so please be on the lookout for it and get your pet to the nearest vet if their tummy’s a bit bigger than usual.


Remember, the sooner your vet sees your pet the earlier they can make a diagnosis and start treatment, and the better the prognosis is for your beloved animal. If you see or suspect any of the above symptoms, don’t delay - get in touch.

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