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When to go to The Vet

By: Sandy Bolan - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
When To Go To The Vet

For the second year in a row, feline urinary tract infections and canine skin allergies were 2005's top two medical conditions for which cat and dog owners filed pet insurance claims, according to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.

Veterinarian visits are not usually pleasant, especially for the animal, which is why pet owners try to put off the visits, until they are absolutely necessary. But when do you know an aliment is serious enough to warrant a vet visit?

Below is a list of the most popular reasons for vet visits in 2005, according to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., and information on when it's time to go.

Skin Irritations - we all get them, however, when cats and dogs scratch themselves to the point where they are causing hair loss, skin damage or infection - it is time to visit the vet, as the initial irritation has now led to a secondary one.

Ear Infections - most commonly occur in dogs with floppy ears, than those with short, upright ears. As such, it is important for owners of dogs with longer ears, to check under the ears to see there is nothing abnormal occurring.

Yeast infections are the most common type of ear infection and symptoms include a build up of a dark, creamy wax that smells like yeast and looks like peanut butter.

Another possibility is a bacterial infection, which causes the ear canal to become red and have a moist, yellow paste with a strong and fruity smell to the ear.

Continual head titling is the sign of an inner ear problem, i.e. punctured eardrum.

Ear mites make the dog feel like it has jumping beans in its ear. This can often be treated with over-the-counter medications found in most pet stores, however, if you find the mites do not go away after a month of treatment, or if the pet gets an ear rash or painful irritation, then it's off to the vet you go.

Bladder Infections - all animals have the occasional accident, however, frequent urinating, going in all the wrong places for more than two days, difficulty going potty or the urine is discoloured are all signs there is something amiss with your pet and a vet visit is definitely necessary. The problem can be as simple as a bladder infection, however, these can also be signs of diabetes, hormone imbalance or kidney failure.

Tumours - only a veterinarian knows if a lump is benign or not, so when one is felt on your pet's body, do not ignore it. "Every big tumour started out as a little one, so you shouldn't overlook them," says Boston-based DVM Richard Anderson.

Lumps under the skin should also move freely when you push against them, however, it should also feel like a solid object confined to one location. If the lump feels like it is branching out and covering a larger area, a visit to the vet cannot be delayed as dangerous lumps grow quickly and sometimes bleed.

Finding lumps on cats is more worrisome than on dogs, as with dogs they can be bruises. However, on cats, lumps often indicate cancer.

Osteoarthritis - is also known as degenerative joint disease, is most commonly found in the hip, elbow, back and neck areas and is caused by years of wear and tear. If you see your once bouncy dog hobbling or your cat shuffling along, this could mean more than just tight muscles from a day of play.

Eye infections - if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Therefore, at the first sign your pet has weepy or crusty eyes, go to the vet. It is more likely than not, conjunctivitis - the most common pet eye problem, which is easily treated, however, if conjunctivitis is left untreated, it can cause blindness. Weepy or crusty eyes can also be caused by allergies, infections or distemper. If a dog has dry eyes, which is caused by a lack of tear production, this could be keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This is rarely found in cats.

Urinary Tract Infections - is when the pet has a difficult time urinating. UTIs can clear up on their own without treatment, however, bacteria can move further into the body causing a more serious infection in the kidneys.

Respiratory Infections - can be one of many things including asthma, which is more common in cats than dogs. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing (more than the normal fur ball coughing) as well as fatigue. However, these same symptoms may also indicate heartworms. Make sure your vet does a heartworm test.

If an unusual amount of coughing occurs for more than one day, definitely visit the vet, as it could be a symptom of pneumonia, bronchitis, a collapsed windpipe or even a heart attack. "If your dog is coughing and is breathing rapidly or seems short of breath, or if he has a swollen abdomen, get to the vet immediately," states the Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Cats and Dogs.

Coughing may also indicate kennel cough, which is a highly contagious virus easily passed from dog to dog. If the coughing does not go away within 10 days, or it gets worse, it can lead to pneumonia.

Wound Infections - can easily occur in deep cuts or scrapes and can be accompanied by heavy bleeding and/or unusual amounts of pain. Other symptoms include puss, redness and swelling. "If the laceration is deep enough to involve tendons or muscle, you should seek some kind of professional care," according to Colorado-based DVM Wayne Wingfield.

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