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  • Writer's pictureDrs. Frans, Bianca, Danielle & Rene

Do I need to call the vet?

It is sometimes hard to know if your pet has a serious problem or whether they are just having an ‘off day’. Here are some hints to help you decide whether your pet needs to see the vet.

*Please remember that in this short article I can only offer an overview. If you are worried about your pet’s call us on 012 664 5763 and talk to Dr. Frans Pretorius*

Firstly does your pet seem unwell? This probably sounds like a silly question but it is relevant.

If your pet has just vomited or has had some diarrhoea or has jumped off the bed and is now limping - but in all other respects is normal – playful, following their usual routine, asking for attention or treats - then it is likely that it is safe to apply appropriate first aid rules - for example skipping a meal and then a bland diet for tummy troubles, rest for suspected sprains- no walks or walks on a lead rather than off the lead, keeping a cat indoors. If things are improving then carry on with your first aid regime.

On the other hand, if your pet is unwell – quiet, refusing food, not wanting to engage, hiding, or ‘acting strangely’ , then I would instantly be more cautious and consider that this is something more serious. Call us for advice. In some cases it may be appropriate to ‘wait and see’, but only for a day or two at the most. Do not let your pet’s symptoms linger on for several days.

Your pet’s health is your responsibility and leaving it untreated is unacceptable. Also remember that the very young, the very old and animals that have a pre-existing condition – for example heart disease or diabetes, or any animal that is on continuous medication are likely to have less resilience and it is sensible to treat any sign of illness in these animals as more serious and seek help from your vet promptly.

Here are some guidelines to help you decide how quickly you need to see the vet.

The following are not urgent problems - but obviously the sooner that you get them sorted out the better. If your pet is well a 2 or 3 day wait is acceptable.

- Fleas, tics, worms and other parasites.

- Itchiness but no redness or discharge.

- Non painful lump.

- Limping or stiffness but still weight bearing. The following problems need to be seen within the next twenty four hours.

- Diarrhoea that has not responded to first aid measures or is accompanied by vomiting or in a pet that is unwell.

- If your pet hasn’t eaten or drunk for twenty four hours.

- A pet that has been sick more than twice in twenty four hours.

- Green discharge from the eyes.

- A single fit where the animal has now recovered and appears normal.

- Persistent coughing.

The following conditions should be seen on the same day

- Wounds from fighting or cuts.

- Repeated vomiting.

- Eye injury, redness, swelling or pain.

- Lameness where your pet can’t put its foot to the ground.

- Any sick rabbit, guinea pig or bird.

- Repeated visits to the litter tray or house soiling in a male cat

- Any condition where your pet seems distressed, e.g. shaking head or ears, unable to settle

- Unwell puppies or kittens that have not yet been weaned.

- Difficulty walking or getting up, walking as though drunk or dragging the paws.

The following conditions should be seen immediately

- Complications of pregnancy or labour

- Collapse

- Severe accidents – road accidents, falls, pets that have been dropped, accidentally stepped on etc.

- Continuous fitting

- Cats breathing with their mouth open

- Heat stroke

- Dogs with bloated stomachs

- Choking I haven’t managed to include everything on these lists. If you don’t see your pet’s particular problem or you are in any doubt then phone your vet.

Vets and nurses will gladly give out first aid advice if they think that it is appropriate or advice you of signs to look out for that would indicate that your pet’s condition is becoming more urgent.

Remember however that the vet cannot make a diagnosis over the phone and in many cases it is more prudent to err on the side of caution and take your pet in to be examined.

You can contact Dr. Frans Pretorius at Lyttelton Animal Hospital on 012 664 5763 during weekdays from 8:00-18:30 and after hours for emergencies Mondays to Thursdays on 071 110 5118

Saturdays from 9:00-12:00

Source credit: the good vet&pet guide.

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