Just like humans, animals experience lots of behavioral changes when they’re feeling sick. It might seem hard to recognize these signs, but if you truly know your pets, you’ll see when they’re becoming less communicative and playful or eating less than usual. These changes are signs that you should take them to the vet immediately, but if you’re not sure what to look for, here are some changes in behavior that occur in most domesticated animals.
Change of habits in cats
Cats are habitual animals, and they stick to their cleaning, playing, and sleeping routine no matter what. That’s why signs of sickness in cats are easy to spot because they’ll have sudden changes in moods and attitudes.
For example, if your cat drinks more water than usual, it might signify kidney disease or diabetes. With a sudden change in appetite, your cat might experience hyperthyroidism issues. Or if they’re having troubles with their litter box, expect anything from urinary infections to bladder stones.
Cats also need lots of attention or no attention at all based on their personality and breed, so if you’re thinking of adopting a cat, make sure they will easily adapt to your lifestyle. Otherwise, they’ll be unhappy. Stressed cats are less tolerant of people, and their health is seriously affected by it (vomiting, overeating, or not eating at all).
Wondering if you can prevent these issues? Besides taking them to the vet regularly, you need to provide basic care: change their water daily, brush their teeth, and choose to spay and neuter them. Also, clean their litter box and place it somewhere reachable and spacious.
When your dog’s temper is different…
Dogs usually change their temper only when they’re aggressive or fearful around other animals or humans. But if yours starts to behave differently than usual, it might be a sign of sickness. These changes are visible, especially when your dog is usually active and energetic, then suddenly they are lethargic and not engaging in playful activities. Some of them might become distant, and others cling to your presence at all times.
Consider dog insurance that offers both preventative and emergency coverage for your pup. Like with any insurance decision, read up on what isn’t covered before you sign up.
Dogs need to be walked regularly to keep them happy and healthy (helping the digestive tract). It’s important to give them the right amount of food because overdoing it to keep them satisfied will cause metabolic problems and cardiovascular diseases in overweight dogs.
Is your fish losing their balance?
The water tank you’re keeping your fish into will influence their health if it’s not proper. High nitrate levels might cause swim bladder disorder. You can recognize its symptoms when your fish loses balance, floating to the surface, or swimming on one side. If your fish is suddenly swimming fast, it might be a sign of stress caused by poor water quality.
These animals need special living conditions to survive longer and be healthy, like:
- Having enough space (meaning a big water tank)
- Keeping appropriate pH levels according to the fish’s species
- Creating a comfortable environment by adding plants and objects to hide and play through
- Providing a balanced diet
- Regularly cleaning the tank
Hamsters are one of the most sensible animals. They need special care, and even though their usual lifespan is around three years, they still need to live a healthy life. But for that, you need to observe their behavior. When hamsters are huddling in a corner, it’s a sign of experiencing pain. Further symptoms to confirm illnesses are inactivity, hair loss, or changes in their eating and drinking problems.
Another reason for huddling in a corner is feeling fear or stress. Keep in mind that hamsters get scared easily by every loud noise. They usually have their ears laid back and narrow their eyes when hiding.
Just like any other pet, hamsters need their space to be cleaned and refreshed daily (especially the toilet area). In order to avoid stress, it would be best to keep them away from loud noises and slowly let them get used to the environment while being patient for them to bond with you. Also, they need to have plenty of space and accessories to keep them active.
It’s said that rabbits know how to hide their illnesses, but there are small clues that they’re not feeling well, like:
- Runny eyes or breathing problems (possible symptoms of respiratory infections, some causes include dental problems, kidney failure and poisoning)
- Eating less or not at all (a sign of anorexia)
- Slower movements than usual (caused by digestive and dental issues, stress; might lead to stasis, one of the most common disorders in rabbits)
- Tiled head (triggered by strokes, infections, intoxications or traumas)
Keeping your bunny healthy and happy is a tough challenge. They need a spacious and safe environment, fresh hay and greens, and grooming (because they might ingest the fur in excess and develop digestive issues). Just like hamsters, rabbits are easily stressed. Therefore you need to build a good relationship with them, meaning you need to know their basic behaviors. For example:
- Happy rabbits express their excitement through dancing and jumping around
- Grooming other rabbits or even licking you is a sign of affection
- Teeth grinding might be a sign of pain (if it’s very loud) or contentment (if they’re stretching to relax)
- Growling is a sign of aggressive behavior caused by someone invading their territory
To conclude, it’s good to know how changes in behavior affect your pets’ health because it could give them a chance to get the proper treatment and recovery. Not every change is related to health issues, but significant shifts in their behaviors will always be a warning that they’re not feeling well. Pet ownership means not only having fun but also being responsible.