We have all been in that position before. Keeping a watchful eye on that one spot that our furry friend keeps itching. Then the internal fight begins on whether you should take them straight to the vet or are you just overthinking this? Could it be a little irritation? As a concerned pet parent, making this decision is one of the hardest. To help you all out, we have answered this question once and for all: call the vet.

Our four-legged friends are experts at covering up any signs of illness so if you see them continuously itch that spot or limp on that leg, it is best to call the vet. The list below explains what some of the common symptoms mean and what signs to look out for.

  1. Itching and Skin Irritations:
    Noticing that your pet is scratching a specific area, biting their feet, redness on the skin or hair loss/bald patches, are signs that you need to take your fur child to the vet. Through scratching and biting the affected area, it does not take long for the skin to become damaged and infection can develop. Taking them to the vet when the signs first appear, means that treatment can begin to prevent the irritation from getting worse and fight any possible infection. Skin irritations usually come from allergies, insect bites, flea allergy dermatitis and yeast or bacterial infection.
  2. Eye or Ear Problems:
    We are going to keep this one straightforward – if you notice any problems with your pet’s eyes or ears, take them immediately to the vet. For the eyes, it is important to watch out if they appear red, swollen, watery or your furry friend is constantly squinting or rubbing. The signs of any ear problems are scratching at their ears, unpleasant/unusual discharge, scratching or shaking their head. Especially for the ears, early treatment reduces damage and any future ear infections.
  3. Lumps and Bumps:
    While some bumps are harmless, others can be dangerous if left untreated. The causes of lumps include bruises, fluid build-up, abscesses, insect bites, cancers and things that attach to the skin like parasites. If you notice that there is an usual lump or swelling on your pet, you should ask your vet to examine it.
  4. Vomiting and Diarrhoea:
    Vomiting and diarrhoea can have many different causes. While some can be mild, others can be life-threatening. As it can be difficult to know if your pet has a mild or a serious cause of vomiting or diarrhoea, it is best to seek the advice of your veterinarian. They can examine your pet and look for signs such as fever, abdominal pain and dehydration. Additional tests may be necessary to determine the severity and cause of your pet’s symptoms. These can include blood testing, faecal exams, abdominal x-rays and ultrasounds.
  5. Limping:
    Any changes in gait or limping means that your pet’s joints, muscles or bones could be damaged and causing some pain. Some key information will be age, breed, how long this ailment has been around for and how (if you know) your pet became lame. From here, a range tests will be arranged such as an x-ray. The reasons your pet could be limping can include arthritis, fractured bones, spinal problems, muscle soreness or cruciate ligament rupture.
  6. Coughing:
    There are multiple possible causes for coughing in our furry friends, and this can be extremely painful and distressing for your pet. Your vet will need to assess, test and treat this. Coughing could be a sign that your pet has kennel cough, heart disease, foreign body in trachea, worms, asthma, lung disease or breed-related problems with the upper respiratory tract.
  7. Urine or Defecation Changes:
    Behavioural changes in your pet can be seen through straining or struggling to urinate or defecate and going to the toilet in unusual places or more frequently. If there is any blood in the urine or faeces, then you should see your vet straight away. All of these symptoms can help your vet determine the cause and test that will help treat your pet. The common causes of this includes urinary tract infection, bladder stones, inflammatory bowel disease, constipations and kidney disease.
  8. Bad Breath:
    Dental disease is the most common cause of bad breath as it can mean that there is a build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Bad breath can also mean that your pet could be a diabetic or have advanced kidney disease. These diseases require urgent attention. When you take your pet to the vet, they will examine your pet’s mouth and may recommend dietary changes or a dental procedure to clean the teeth or remove anything that could be causing some pain.
  9. Lethargy or Change in Activity Levels:
    These changes can be seen in your pet through sleeping more, not being active or behaving differently. This can occur for a variety of reasons, and if the behaviour change occurs suddenly, it may be a sign of a serious problem. Our pets cannot tell us what is wrong, so lethargy or behaviour change is often them trying to let us know they are unwell.
  10. Changes in Appetite or Drinking:
    Commonly seen in older animals, you could notice that the amount your pet eats and drinks has dramatically changed. With senior animals, your vet will likely ask about their appetite and thirst levels to keep track of this. If your pet has an increased appetite or thirst, or they are not consuming any food or water at all, you should take your pet directly to the vet.

It is always best to have peace of mind and talk to your vet about any changes in your pet that are causing you concern. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best option in these situations and as mentioned above, there can be numerous causes for one symptom.

Included in the Best for Pet program is unlimited FREE consultations with your vet. This can bring some financial relief when we notice those worrisome changes in our furry family members.