Just like you, your pet is going to get sick from time to time. More times than not, you’re going to debate whether or not you’re sick enough to go to the doctor. You might have that same thought when it comes to your pets, although it’s good to know when you can hold off and when you can’t.
To start, with puppies and kittens, there’s a schedule of vaccinations and examinations that usually take place every three to four weeks until they are 18 to 20 weeks old. The frequency of the visits is because of the vaccinations. The antibodies the puppy or kitten received from its mother interfere with the vaccinations, but yet they’re not protective. Veterinarians give them the vaccines to outrun the antibodies they received from their mother to keep them protected during that period of time.
After that, visits to the veterinarian are usually once a year for physical exams, unless there’s a problem.
Warning Signs to Watch For if There’s a Problem
There are many signs to look for when it comes to pet health problems. Some signs to look out for are:
- Any changes in eating habits
- If they’re vomiting more than once
- Any changes in their stool or elimination habits, such as if they’re urinating frequently or in small or large amounts
- Any change in their appetite
- Any change in their willingness to do things, such as go for a walk, get up, or interact with you
There are all indications that something could very well be wrong. Granted, there are certain instances where it depends on whether or not you should take your pet to the veterinarian immediate.
If you know your dog is the kind of dog that can get into something, such as garbage, and they eat the garbage, you probably would want to bring them in to the veterinarian to make sure there are no obstructions and that they haven’t eaten anything toxic.
There are cases where the dog might have simple gastroenteritis that they’ll get over within 12 to 24 hours. More often than not, however, if you wait while the dog gets sicker and sicker, there are a lot of risks that could put your dog’s life in jeopardy.
Dangers of the ‘Wait and See’ Approach
Chances are, you’ve known your pet for a while. You know when they’re happy and health, and you know when they’re not feeling well. There’s a fine line between being cautious and putting your pet’s life at risk.
For example, if your dog eats something that causes a simple case of gastroenteritis, if you don’t treat it the dog will get sicker and sicker. They will continue to vomit, have diarrhea, get dehydrated, and feel worse and worse. If you take the dog to the veterinarian sooner rather than later, they can receive medicine that will help stop the vomiting and treat the condition.
Early intervention is the key to making any pet feel better. The worst-case scenario is that your sick pet could absorb bacteria and become really sick because they weren’t treated appropriately and weren’t given the medicine to treat the bacteria.
When It’s OK to ‘Wait and See’
There are times when, like humans, pets are going to get sick and it isn’t necessary to visit the veterinarian.
If your dog gets into the cat food and gets sick because of it, you know they can’t die from eating cat food. Chances are the food won’t agree with their stomach, they vomit the cat food once, and then they’re completely active and normal and happy in every other way, it might just be something you’d want to call your veterinarian just to see the best course of action.
It’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian to see what they think and get some advice on how to proceed. Usually though, if it’s just one instance of vomiting and your dog seems completely well and happy otherwise, it’s reasonable to put a call into the veterinarian just to see what they suggest.
When in Doubt, Call Your Veterinarian
Check with your veterinarian. Most times, your veterinarian will know your pet’s case well enough to say, ‘Your pet has a very sensitive upper GI tract and every time this happens, they end up needing IV fluids, so why don’t you bring them in so we can give them medication to prevent it from getting worse.’
Sometimes a veterinarian is going to say they don’t know, that they can’t tell because they can’t see your pet, so give it 12 hours to see if they get better. If they don’t, you can bring them in then. It’s better to stay in touch with your veterinarian so that they know.
If you’re in doubt about what you should do about your pet, it’s always best to call your veterinarian just to be sure. The staff will be able to advise you if they know what’s going on with your pet. They’ll be able to ask you pertinent questions, such as ‘Did you dog rip up his toy and is there anything missing?’ If your dog ripped up his stuffed animal and three quarters of the stuffing is missing, there’s a good indication your veterinarian is going to want to see them now because the stuffing could cause an obstruction.
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