The next parameter you should measure closely at home is your pet’s activity level. Again, during the warmer months, the larger pets and those with long and heavy hair coats might be lethargic because of the weather and not some internal problem.
Lethargy can manifest itself in several ways. The most obvious one is lying around more than usual. Your dog might not rise when you bring out the leash for a walk or not want to walk as far, or when you dangle or throw a toy, your cat might not display the usual playfulness. After a walk, in fact, the dog might go right to the bed and plop down, not wanting to move for a while.
Your pet might not go to the bowl as soon as you put the food down. Sleeping longer than usual, waking up later than usual, and taking longer to wake up could be important also might be indications of disease.
Another area to closely observe is your pet’s behavior. This ties in closely with activity level, and the two go hand in hand. Many of these behavioral changes occur more often in older pets, so close observation is crucial to find these changes early.
Things to watch for include:
- Not greeting you at the door as soon after your arrival or as vigorously
- Frequenting a spot in the house away from other people or pets.
- Not coming around to be petted or staying as long as usual while you are petting him or her
- Walking in circles, tilting the head to one side, or uneven-size pupils. Note if there is any correlation to eating in regard to these symptoms.
- Lameness, lack of coordination and walking in an erratic manner (called ataxia)
- Any type of seizure
- Severe depression, which could be a sign of toxicity from marijuana or other prescription drugs
Notice how responsive your cat or dog is to being petted. Photos courtesy of Long Beach Animal Hospital.
Look for different-size pupils as an indication of an neurological problem. This is called “anisocoria.”
Tilting the head can also indicate a problem.
Behavioral diseases can include:
- liver disease, e.g., portosystemic shunt
- older-age disease, e.g., cognitive dysfunction
- heavy-metal toxicity, e.g., lead poisoning
- viral disease, e.g., rabies
- inflammatory disease, e.g., brain encephalopathy
- cancer, e.g., brain tumor
- trauma, e.g., concussion
- seizures, e.g., idiopathic epilepsy