Friday, November 18, 2011

Pet Health Questions

If you own a pet-be it cat or mouse, piranha or puppy-chances are, you have your share of pet health questions you've always wanted to ask. Each type of pet no doubt comes with its own share of specific health-related questions that would take pages and pages to answer, but you'll find a few of the most commonly asked health questions answered below.

Pet Health Question #1: Animals can't talk, so how do I know when my pet is feeling ill?

Health Check

While your pet may not be able to tell you in English what's ailing them, you can learn to interpret your animal's own language by paying attention to a few crucial signs. One of the first symptoms that something may be amiss with any animal's health is a decline in appetite, especially in young animals. It's very important, then, that you keep a careful eye on your pet's food and water intake. Some pets, like older dogs, may skip meals occasionally, but if your pet refuses more than two meals or if a free-feeding pet suddenly stops eating, start monitoring for other symptoms Common symptoms of illness include a marked decrease in normal activity, a sudden decline in self-grooming, anti socialness, an unusual loss of fur/feathers/skin resulting in sores and/or bald patches, diarrhea, markedly increased water intake, watery or mucous-y eyes and nose, pale gums, and dehydration. Check for dehydration by performing a simple skin elasticity test. Find a spot on your pet's body where the skin is normally tight (so, not the scruff of the neck) and pinch/lift a small amount. If the skin does not spring back immediately, dehydration may be a problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, don't hesitate to call your vet While most illness aren't serious at their onset, they can very quickly become serious, especially in very young or very old animals.

Pet Health Question #2: What steps can I take to ensure my pet's good health?

Above all, you must know your pet, inside and out, physically and emotionally. Learn about your pet's basic physical makeup so that you can pinpoint where problems might be originating. Also make a point of getting to know your pet's personality and normal behaviors by spending a time with them. Grooming is a great way to bond with your pet, as you'll get to know what's normal for your pet's body and what's not. As you groom your companion, check for any unusual lumps, abrasions, or changes in skin condition, such as sudden dandruff or yellowing. Of course, preventing illness in the first place should be your goal. Offer your pet every chance to to stay as healthy as possible by feeding him or her a proper, species-specific diet of quality food, making sure your pet's exercise requirements are met, going for annual vet check-ups, and guaranteeing that your companion is well-protected from the elements, predators, and other dangers of the outside world. Among these dangers are easily preventable, but extremely deadly diseases and parasites. Depending on the type of animal you own, you may need to have your pet vaccinated annually and have your veterinarian place them on a parasite prevention program to ward off worms, fleas, and West Nile virus.

Pet Health Question #3: Help I think my pet is sick, and I have no idea what to do

Your first task is to NOT panic. Pets are very perceptive of human moods, so if you're panicking, chances are, they might panic too. Your second task is to assess the situation. If your pet has ingested a chemical or other foreign substance, is bleeding heavily, choking or gasping for breath, making pained noises, or is lying down and won't or is unable to stand, you'll need to call a veterinarian immediately. All vets have after-hours emergency numbers to call, and many cities now have 24-hour animal hospitals. Always keep your vet's regular and emergency numbers in a handy place such as the refrigerator for instances like these. If it doesn't seem to be an emergency, you'll want to spend a few moments preparing a list of symptoms and asking yourself some questions so that you can tell the veterinarian as much as possible when you call to make an appointment.

What are your pet's symptoms? When did the symptoms start? Has your pet taken any water or food since the symptoms began? If your pet becomes ill after normal veterinary hours, but the situation doesn't seem to warrant a trip to the emergency clinic, then try to keep your pet as comfortable as possible. Offer a heat lamp, heating pad, hot water bottle, or blanket, but do not force them onto or under it. Does your pet want to hide? Let them, but monitor their condition regularly, even through the night. Bring outdoor pets inside, do not force your pet to eat or drink if they don't want to, and do not wake them up if they wish to sleep. If symptoms seem to worsen, don't hesitate to make an emergency call. That's what your veterinarian is for-to assist you no matter what.

Hopefully, you've just had some of your pet care health questions answered. Keeping yourself informed and prepared is one of your obligations as a pet owner, so read up on the health needs of your specific type of pet and ask your veterinarian should you have any further pet health questions. Knowledge is the best defense and medicine when it comes to your beloved pet companions

Pet Health Questions

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