I am a Veterinarian who has been in practice for over 20 years. The most frequent question that I am asked; “Is that normal?” The question maybe in regards to a vomiting cat, or a coughing dog that persists throughout the night. Put yourself in your pet’s paws and answer the question if that was me, would I consider it normal?

Symptoms are so difficult to analyze on your furry children, because they can’t tell us if, or where it hurts. You are your pet’s advocate. You will be the first to notice changes before they become serious medical issues. Any odd behavior could mean something’s not “normal”. A few other questions I commonly hear are, I feel a firm lump under the skin can I just watch it? My dog has a heart murmur, is there anything to worry about? My cat’s breath is terrible and the teeth are really bad should I just wait a little longer before I get a dental scaling? “If I was the pets” I would find out what was going on and resolve the problem ASAP. Like the saying goes “Get R Done”.

Last week Mrs. G. came in with her pet “Snickers” her 6 year old frisky Jack Russell Terrier. Snickers had 5 small hard lumps just under the skin around the breast areas. Since they were so small Mrs. G was not worried and was just going to “watch it”. We discussed the options and decided to proceed with removal of the masses and spaying at the same time. The lumps turned out to be breast cancer and the uterus was infected. We probably extended the health, happiness and longevity of “Snickers” life by 4 years.

Optimally, I believe in prevention. That’s why pets live much longer now days. A 20 year old dog or cat is now common. Take your pet in for the 3000 mile oil change. One human year is about 7 pet years so getting your pet’s health checked every 6 months, regardless if there is a problem is like us going to the doctor every 3 years. Just like in people, early detection has better prognosis. Simple blood laboratory tests find liver problems, kidney problems, infections, and thyroid problems that can be treated.

If you haven’t looked at your pet closely, please do so. Check inside the ears, the mouth and make sure it does not smell bad. Fluffy can’t tell you it hurts, but may shake her head. If fluffy snubs her nose at food suddenly, it may be that she can’t chew it, because she has a painful decaying tooth. Observe any decreased activity, poor appetite, increased thirst, pacing, whining, or hiding under the bed. Waiting for it to get better is worrisome and stressful on you both. I say it’s better to be safe than sorry. They’ll thank you for it.