With the recent Menu Foods scare it might be a good time to review some of the symptoms pets show when they are ill with an internal disease. In some cases these symptoms are subtle and require careful observation on your part. Also, when a pet has multiple (and busy) owners it is easy to overlook the early signs of disease in pets.
Some symptoms of internal disease are obvious, the primary ones being lack of appetite and persistent vomiting or diarrhea, along with lethargy and a strong odor. Lets look at some of the more subtle symptoms that might indicate an internal problem.
A pet that does not eat its food as vigorously as it once did could indicate a problem anywhere from the mouth, to the brain, to the internal organs. Panting more than usual, even during the cooler time of the year, could indicate an internal hormone problem called Cushings disease or even discomfort or pain from arthritis or an internal organ problem.
Laying around more often, or gravitating towards warm areas could indicate another hormone problem involving the thyroid gland. Any eye or nose discharge that is persistent, and drains from only one side could indicate a number of problems. Subtle behavior changes that include a lack of recognition when your pet greets you, changes in sleep patterns, circling around a table in your house, staring into space, or wandering into a wall could indicate anything from an old age problem to a problem with a brain tumor or central nervous system infection.
A pet that drinks or urinates more than its usual amount is a potential symptom of many different problems. The same holds true if your pet experiences the opposite and drinks or urinates less. A significant change in the color of your pets stool, usually much darker or much lighter, is also a potential sign of many different problems.
One of the best ways to watch for any of these symptoms is to measure or monitor your pets drinking and eating habits. Use your calendar and mark your parameters down periodically. You can even weigh your pet monthly and write things down each time you weigh your pet. Any change that becomes apparent is an indication for a physical exam by a veterinarian.
Yearly Wellness exams that include a physical exam along with a fecal check for parasites and a routine blood panel go a long way towards identifying problems before they become well entrenched and difficult to treat. This is particularly true for our geriatric pets that commonly become ill but do not show any outward or apparent signs.