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How Do I Know If My Pet’s Problem Is Severe?

Although your pet trusts you with its life, it will tend to hide its pain instinctively. It’s not that it does not trust you; rather, it’s just how evolution hardwired it. In their violent past, animals—including those that became human pets—that exhibited outward signs of weakness or pain were at risk of attacks from predators.


Over time, pets learned to mask symptoms of vulnerability or weakness. Essentially, many animals tend to hide their pain as a survival instinct. However, you can still learn to decipher what your pet is feeling without having a conversation with it. 


When to Worry About Your Animal Companion

No pet owner wants their animal companion to be in pain. But since your pet cannot tell you when they are hurting, it is up to you to recognize the signs and get your pet the help they need. Many physical changes and behaviors can indicate that your pet is in pain. If you are in doubt, you need to discuss your concern with your veterinarian. 


As your friend and part of your family, your pet deserves the best care possible. Unfortunately, they cannot complain, so how do you know if their problem is severe? How do you know when to take your pet to a vet? Some of the signs to watch out for include:


Odd Eating Habits

Are you noticing changes in how your animal friend eats? If your usually ravenous pet is refusing or unable to eat normally, it may indicate a severe medical condition. After all, they did not suddenly decide to go on a diet. Odd eating habits or a lack of appetite can mean that your pet is in pain or discomfort. Hence, there is a reason to worry about your pet turning up their nose to treats and food. 


Heavy Breathing

It is normal for certain pets to pant heavily during and after physical exertion. But sometimes, heavy panting can indicate poisoning, heatstroke, or pain. These make heavy breathing one of the pet illness symptoms you should watch out for.


Whining and Whimpering

The sound of your dog whining or whimpering is enough to break your heart. Some pets remain quiet even when they are hurting. But others may cry or whimper when they are in pain. Increased intermittent or constant vocalizations can indicate extreme discomfort or pain. So if you notice this problem, you should take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. 


Physical Problems

When your pet is experiencing a severe health problem or pain, you may notice some physical changes. Some of these changes include:

  • Holding the head below the shoulders.
  • Twitching or tight muscles.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Arched back.

Other signs that may indicate a severe pet problem include:

  • Behavioral changes. These include not wanting anyone to touch them, restlessness, aggression, or excessive licking.
  • Mobility issues.
  • Changes in sleeping habits.

Once you know how to tell if your pet’s problem is severe, the next step is to get them to a veterinarian for treatment. Several treatments can reduce or eliminate chronic and acute pain in pets.


For more on pet problems, visit Santa Monica Pet Medical Center at (310) 393-8218 to reach our office in Santa Monica, California.

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