Because our pets can’t talk it is our job to know what is normal for them, so we can spot when there is a change – which could mean pain or discomfort.
Everyone has those slow to start days – those days when you just feel everything is that much more of an effort and you would rather crawl back under the duvet. And some days you just don’t fancy your food at all.
While your pets can sometimes choose to stretch out in the sun and laze a little, behavioural changes for them can be an indicator that something is amiss. And because our pets can’t talk it is our job to know what is normal for them, so we can spot when there is a change – which could mean pain or discomfort. Just because your pet is not crying, does not mean it is not in pain - they are often incredibly stoic.
If you have any worries, check in with your vet. They will be able to talk through your concerns and if necessary suggest you bring your pet in for an examination. Many vets now offer online or phone consultations, and these can sometimes be a good way to open a conversation.
Changes in movement
Osteoarthritis affects 1 in 5 dogs, and its prevalence increases as dogs age; it is therefore very likely your dog has or will get osteoarthritis.
The Canine Arthritis Trust, developed by veterinary surgeon Hannah Capon, is a charity dedicated to promoting better care for aging dogs. She asks if you have noticed your dog’s energy levels are decreased; their enthusiasm to exercise is reduced, or their normal habits of stretching, shaking and rolling have become infrequent, replaced with something new such as licking their front paws? Or maybe they just seem to want to be left alone more of the time.
These may seem like just old age, but they shouldn’t be ignored – they could indicate arthritis. While arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed, through things such as weight management, exercise changes, modifying your home, and anti-inflammatory medication, meaning you and your vet working together may well be able to manage the condition to ensure your dog can continue to lead a longer life, free from pain.
Changes in eating and drinking
Pay attention to your pet’s hydration needs. As much as not drinking can cause dehydration, many cats on wet food, for example, will drink very little water.
Changes to eating and drinking habits, or a change in their faeces or urine, can be an indicator something is wrong.
One of the biggest concerns and a symptom that can be linked to a few very serious diseases is drinking too much water. This can be due to kidney failure, liver issues, Cushings Disease, diabetes and more. Often owners do not pick this up as a problem, so it’s definitely a reason to visit your vet, who may recommend a blood test.
Just like for people, technology advances and innovation in the animal health sector means we can be even more able to be one step ahead of any problems. For example, smart collars help owners continuously monitor health data that can be used to optimise feeding and care.
Animals cannot communicate with us in the same way that people can, so we have to try and look out for different signs.
Always speak to your vet who will be able to support and give their professional opinion.