Be Aware of Changes in Behavior
Steve Duno (

When a dog or cat is ill, the first sign of it may not be physical change, but rather some change in behavior. For instance, if a dog has some sort of gastro-intestinal infection going on, you will most likely see an abrupt change in its elimination and feeding habits. The pet`s housetraining may deteriorate, and his appetite may fall off. A sick cat may become moody, and might isolate itself from the rest of the household, perhaps spending most of her time beneath a bed, or in a dark quiet place. A normally gregarious, friendly pet may suddenly become anti-social or short-tempered when ill, or could take on unfamiliar behavior patterns such as chewing incessantly on itself, or becoming excessively vocal.

The changes that might occur are too numerous to list; sufficed to say, strive to be aware of anything out of character for your pet. If you do notice changes from the norm that last for more than a few days, make a notation of them, then see your veterinarian, who should give the pet a once-over to check for hidden illness, infection, or injury.

Behavioral changes that can indicate a medical problem include:

• Sudden change in appetite

• A change in the pet`s level of sociability

• Incessant scratching, chewing, vocalizing, pacing or panting

• Hiding away in a dark, quiet area of the home

• Irritability, or uncharacteristic growling or biting

• A change in elimination habits

• Increased water intake

• Any new compulsive behavior

• A sudden onset of destructive behavior

• Any sudden increase in territorial behavior

• Altered sleep patterns

• An unwillingness to play or exercise.

By paying attention to your pet`s behavior (much as you would a child`s), you might help head off a serious illness or infection at the pass. At the very least, you will become closer with your furry friend`s emotional mindset.



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