Anthony S. Johnson, D.V.M., Lists 3 Warning Signs that Your Pet Needs Urgent Veterinary Care

Carmel, Indiana

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From companionship to emotional support, pets play a vital role in our everyday lives. And while it may be difficult to distinguish between normal and abnormal behaviors, it is important to pay close attention to potential warning signs that your pet may require medical assistance.

According to Anthony S. Johnson, D.V.M., who is Board Certified in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC), here are three signs that your pet needs urgent veterinary care:

1) Unusual Eating Habits

On occasion — such as during especially hot and humid weather, after strenuous exercise, or after taking certain types of medication — your pet may decide to skip a meal or two (or conversely, want an extra helping). However, if unusual eating habits persist for more than a day or are extreme, then it’s definitely time for a thorough check-up.

“Unusual eating habits can be triggered by physical issues, emotional issues such as stress or anxiety, or sometimes both at the same time,” commented Anthony S. Johnson, who for more than a decade has served as Medical Director of the Veterinary Information Network headquartered in Davis, CA. “Taking a wait-and-see approach is definitely not advised, because the underlying problem is very likely to get worse rather than better.”

2) Breathing Problems

If your pet has trouble breathing, then your first reaction will probably be to inspect his or her mouth area for any stuck objects (e.g. broken piece of a toy, bone, etc.). While this is the right approach, beware of two important risks. The first is that you may accidentally push the object farther down your pet’s throat, which can lead to choking or cause internal damage. The second is that out of panic and not out of malice your pet may bite or lunge.

If inspecting the mouth area is difficult, and this can be the case with many pets regardless of size or breed, then remember that time is of the essence. Call an emergency veterinary clinic right away, and follow their instructions as you transport your pet to the clinic.

3) Unusual Lethargy or Restlessness

Just like people, some pets are laid back, while others are high strung. And of course, there are variations to the pattern based on everything from weather conditions to the availability of treats. However, if you notice that your pet is unusually lethargic or restless, then there is a very good chance that a health or wellness issue needs immediate attention.

“Pets are generally predictable and consistent, although these parameters change at different life stages,” commented Anthony S. Johnson. “If there is a sudden and seemingly inexplicable shift in behavior, it is important to contact your veterinary clinic. Make sure that you tell the staff that you are very concerned, and they will do what they can to book an appointment as soon as possible. They may even have the veterinarian call you back to ask some questions that will help her or him better understand what the issues are, and how to ultimately solve them.”

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