Recognising Pet Health Problems

Pet health problems are a challenge for the pet, the owner, and very often also the consulted veterinarian.

The first problem that the pet owner faces is actually recognising that the pet does indeed have a problem. This might be quite easy in some cases, but in others it may take literally months before the owner realises that his or her pet has a health problem.

These types of pet health problems (that take a while to be recognised by the owner) often lead to some confusion on the part of the owner as the pet appears to become "suddenly sick", when in fact it has only "suddenly" started to show overt clinical signs after having been sick for quite a while. Unfortunately, many pets are often very sick indeed by this stage of the disease and have a guarded to poor prognosis.

The best way for pet owners to recognise these slow onset type of pet health problems is for them to know what is normal and to be vigilant for any deviation from the norm. This is easier said than done if the deterioration in a pet's health is very slow, but knowing what is normal (and therefore being able to recognise what is abnormal), together with keeping a frequent eye on the pet's appetite, water consumption and bodily functions is the best way to recognise slow onset pet health problems at a relatively early stage.

Slow onset pet health problems are also very challenging for the veterinarian charged with restoring the pet to health. Firstly, on presentation the history given by the owner is often patchy and inaccurate because they have not been aware of the extent and duration of the disease.

Secondly, the clinical symptoms now on show may not be directly linked to the original problem but might in fact have more to do with a secondary condition that has arisen as a consequence of the first problem. This can often lead veterinarians down the wrong path diagnostically.

Often it is only once these secondary conditions have been resolved, or the pet fails to respond to treatment, that it becomes apparent that there is a deeper underlying health problem.

Pet health problems are most likely to be resolved quickly if the owner recognises early on that there is a problem and can give a well documented account of the "abnormals" that has led them to believe that there is a problem.