A woman and a vet are examining the cat.

Should My Pet Get to The Vet? Learn When It’s Time

6 min read

For better or for worse, animals can’t talk and can’t ask you to get them to the vet if they feel sick. That’s why you are the one who can notice any weird symptoms and consult the doctor. But is this really an emergency case or are you overthinking? In this post, we’ve collected the signs you should pay attention to: if you detect one or several of them, please contact your vet as soon as possible. 

Sudden Aggression

A cat is showing aggression with an open mouth.
Painful health disorders may make a pet become aggressive even to their owners.

It’s not the case if your pet has been a hellspawn all along but if your gentle and loving cat or dog suddenly started to show misplaced sparks of anger, it might be a sign of health problems. In most cases, animals become aggressive when they are in pain so make sure to contact the vet to find the cause of a problem. 


Some pets, especially cats, love to find a warm place in a closet and sleep there all day. But if your pet never showed such habits and just started hiding for no reason, it’s more likely a bad sign. Hiding might be a symptom of fleas, stress, or physical discomfort, especially if it’s combined with other symptoms. 

Unquenchable Thirst 

It’s better to watch how much water your pet is drinking during the day. Too little is bad and might lead to dehydration but too much is not good as well as it might be pointing at kidney problems or even diabetes — dangerous conditions that can only be managed if noticed early. The average recommendation is 50 ml/1 kg of body weight both for cats and dogs but the volume can slightly increase if you feed your pet with dry food.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

One episode of vomiting or diarrhea is usually a symptom of an upset stomach and shouldn’t cause any serious troubles. But if your pet vomits more than once in 12 hours or experiences continuous diarrhea, it might be a signal of virus, pancreatitis, organ failure, etc. Even if it’s something less serious, pets with constant vomiting and diarrhea require supportive care to avoid dehydration so better contact your vet ASAP.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination (more than 6 times a day), especially when accompanied by false attempts, is a symptom of kidney diseases or urinary tract infections (yes, humans are not the only creatures who suffer from this annoying problem). If your pet’s urine suddenly changed color, don’t ignore this fact too.

Refusal to Eat

A loss of appetite is the first and the most important signal of something going wrong with your pet. If your cat or dog started to avoid even its favorite food and the fasting lasts more than a day or two at max, it's time to consult a vet. But don’t get worried too early, besides many other reasons, lack of appetite can also be a sign of a cat’s or dog’s pregnancy.

Change in Activity Level

A dog is sleeping on the floor.
If you see that your pet friend is feeling tired or sleepy more than often, you should go to the vet.

Fatigue and sleepiness are the first signs of sickness both for humans and pets. For cats, excessive sleep can be a sign of stress, Lyme disease, and peritonitis while dogs sleep too much when they suffer from infections, diabetes, and thyroid gland issues. But hyperactivity can be a bad signal too — if your cat or dog is nervously running around, they are probably showing you that they are not feeling well and can’t find a way to get comfortable. It can be something as simple as skin itching but you can’t be too careful, you know.

Changes in Breathing

If you notice sudden difficulties in your pet’s breathing without any serious physical exercise, it’s time to make a vet’s appointment immediately. Fluid in lungs, heart disease, cancer, pneumonia, a variety of respiratory diseases — it’s not even the full list of conditions that go hand in hand with breathing problems.

Excessive Licking

When it comes to licking, there are several signs you should pay attention to:

  • For cats, excessive self-licking might be a symptom of anxiety, itching, fleas, and allergy. 
  • When a dog licks itself too much or starts licking unusual objects, it could be an allergy or gastrointestinal disorder. 
  • If your dog looks like it’s licking the air, it either feels nauseated or there is something stuck in their mouth so check it out before contacting a vet. 

Red Eyes

Whatever problem you notice with your pet’s eyes; it should be addressed to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Red or watery eyes, constricted or dilated pupils, swollen eyelids, or a third lid partially covering the eye are all the bad symptoms, especially if you see them repeating over a long period of time. 

Excessive Shedding 

If you are a cat or dog owner, you probably find their hair everywhere including your toothbrush and breakfast plate. But if the amount of hair suddenly increases for no reason, it can be a sign of avitaminosis, allergy, skin diseases, or, in rare cases, tumors. 

Change in Gums Coloration

A dog is opening its mouth.
If you see that your pet is feeling bad, the first thing to do is checking gums color.

Gums are the perfect markers of pets’ health. Normally, the gums of a healthy pet are pink, except for those cases when an animal is born with the black ones. Yellowish gums point at liver issues, white gums signal of blood loss, red ones indicate dental problems, fever, or infection while blue ones indicate a lack of oxygen.


When your pet is limping and you are sure it’s not just a thorn stuck in the feet, it’s better to make an appointment at vet’s to perform an X-ray as limping might be a symptom of trauma, bone tumors, fractures, arthritis, spinal problems, or just sore muscles. Pay special attention to limping or other gait changes if your pet is old. 

Lumps or Bumps

Remember a simple rule: whenever you notice a new lump or bump on your pet — you get it checked. Most of them are totally harmless and just naturally develop here or there as your pet ages but they also can be parasites, fluid build-ups, abscesses, or tumors. 


There is nothing wrong with occasional coughing once or twice a day as it’s most likely caused by the dry throat but you might want to get your pet checked if coughing persists. It might be a symptom of a variety of conditions from some object stuck in the throat to asthma and heart disease. 

Besides these symptoms, it’s also recommended to get your pet to the vet to check any wounds (except for minor scratches that you can treat yourself), dog or cat bites even if they seem harmless, and hot spots. For a healthy pet, it’s still necessary to have a regular check-up at least once a year and twice a year for older animals. 

by GetESA

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Pet Care