Quick Tips to Determine if Your Pet is Sick

Quick Tips to Determine if Your Pet is Sick

Pet Health FAQs

These frequently asked questions are intended to help you learn information about common pet health problems, but are not intended to diagnose you pet. If your pet has ANY signs of illness, including constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, broken bones, bleeding or seizures, contact your veterinarian.

Q. My pet ate something that could be poisonous. Who do I contact?

A. Call your veterinarian immediately. If you have packaging for the substance, have it handy, so you can better answer your veterinarian's questions.

Q. My pet has swollen paws. What should I do?

A. Swollen paws can occur for a variety of reasons. Swelling can be the result of an insect bite or sting, infection, tissue damage, or other type of injury. If your pet has any signs of pain or discomfort, contact your veterinarian right away.

Q. I think my pet has a skin problem. How can I tell?

A. Your pet's skin is an indicator of overall health. If your pet is experiencing these following symptoms, or any other symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian:
  • Irritated red or inflamed skin
  • Scabs or scaly patches
  • Skin discoloration
  • Excessive scratching, licking or chewing of skin
  • Swollen patches or lumps

Q. How can I tell if my pet has mange?

A. Mange is a skin disease caused by several species of tiny mites found in skin and hair follicles. Mange symptoms usually depend on which type of mite is present, but some common symptoms include intense itching, bald spots, rashes, and scabs. All mites can cause mild to severe skin infections if they are not treated. Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs in your pet.

Q. What are the signs that my pet may have allergies?

A. Your pet can show allergic symptoms when its immune system begins fighting off everyday substances, or allergens, such as pollen, mold spores, dust, or cigarette smoke. If your pet has allergies, coming into contact with a certain substance, including eating or inhaling it, may result in a reaction. Look out for signs of allergies, including increased scratching, moist or reddish skin, runny eyes, sneezing, vomiting or itchy base of the tail (usually an allergy to fleas, called flea allergy dermatitis). If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Q. Is my pet at risk for parvovirus?

A. Parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral disease that can be fatal. The virus attacks the intestinal tract, but can also affect the heart muscle, causing lifelong cardiac problems. Puppies and young dogs, as well as unvaccinated dogs, are at risk for parvovirus. Common symptoms include fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, and bloody diarrhea.

Q. My pet has a persistent, dry cough. What should I do?

A. An ongoing dry cough may be a sign that your dog has "kennel cough"— highly contagious upper respiratory viral and bacterial infections that affect your dog's voice box and windpipe. If you suspect you dog has kennel cough, isolate them from other dogs right away, and call your veterinarian.

Q. My pet has gained a considerable amount of weight. Should I be concerned?

A. Speak with your veterinarian to determine if your pet is overnourished, not getting enough exercise, or is retaining weight. This may lead to obesity, which can eventually damage their joints, affect their ability to breathe or cause other serious health problems.

cat and dog

Q. My pet seems to be in pain while walking or running. What should I do?

A. This could be a sign of an injury, or a chronic condition like arthritis. If your pet is showing signs of joint pain, or has difficulty moving or standing up, let your veterinarian know right away.


  1. ASPCA. Skin problems. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/skin-problems. Accessed March 17, 2014.
  2. ASPCA. Mange. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/mange. Accessed March 17, 2014.
  3. ASPCA. Allergies. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/allergies. Accessed March 17, 2014.
  4. ASPCA. Parvovirus. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/parvovirus. Accessed March 17, 2014.
  5. ASPCA. Kennel cough. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/kennel-cough. Accessed March 17, 2014.
  6. Pet MD. Obesity in dogs. http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_multi_Obesity. Accessed March 17, 2014.

1 comment

  • Persephone de Vito

    I liked how you said that if my dog has a consistent dry cough, then that may be a sign of “a kennel cough” which is a highly contagious upper respiratory disease. I noticed that my pet beagle has been coughing like that for a while now, and I’m a bit worried that he might be in danger. You mentioned isolating him from other dogs and calling the vet right away. That’s exactly what I’ll do. Thanks! http://www.centersinaianimalhospital.com/our-services/time-saver-forms/surgery/

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