13 Signs Your Pet Needs To See A Vet

Pets are cherished members of our families, offering companionship, love, and joy. As responsible pet owners, we have to ensure their well-being and health. However, it can be challenging to determine when our furry friends need professional medical attention. Do you know the signs that indicate your pet needs to see a vet? This article provides 13 crucial signs that every pet owner should recognize. Understanding these symptoms allows you to act swiftly and effectively when your pet’s health is at risk. 

13 Concerning Signs Your Pet Needs a Vet Immediately
Signs Your Pet Needs To See A Vet

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting in pets are characterized by drooling, retching, and the expulsion of stomach contents. These symptoms can arise from various causes, including dietary indiscretion, infections, toxins, or underlying health conditions like gastrointestinal diseases or kidney failure. While occasional vomiting might not be alarming, persistent or severe vomiting can be dangerous as it may lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and more serious health issues.

If your pet’s vomiting is mild and infrequent, you can manage it at home by withholding food for 12-24 hours and then gradually reintroducing a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice. Ensure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration. However, if the vomiting is severe—characterized by repeated episodes, blood in the vomit, lethargy, or other alarming symptoms—it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately.

Difficulty Breathing

Difficulty breathing in pets is a serious symptom that should not be confused with excessive panting. Difficulty breathing, or dyspnea, is marked by labored or rapid breathing, wheezing, and noticeable effort to draw breath, often accompanied by blue-tinged gums or tongue. On the other hand, excessive panting is a form of rapid, shallow breathing primarily used by dogs to cool themselves and can be caused by heat, excitement, or mild stress. The causes of difficulty breathing are varied and can include respiratory infections, heart disease, asthma, allergies, trauma, or obstructions in the airway.

At home, monitor your pet for signs of distress, noting any changes in their breathing pattern, energy levels, and overall behavior. Ensure they are in a calm, cool environment and avoid any activities that might exacerbate their breathing difficulties. If the difficulty breathing persists or worsens, seek veterinary care immediately. 


Bleeding in pets can arise from a variety of causes, ranging from minor injuries to serious health conditions. A small scrape or minor wound, often caused by playful roughhousing or a minor accident, typically results in limited bleeding and can usually be managed at home. However, a large cut or severe bleeding, such as from a deep laceration, a bite wound, or an accident, poses a much greater risk and requires immediate attention.

For small cuts or scrapes, clean the area gently with mild soap and water or a pet-safe antiseptic. Apply a clean bandage if necessary and monitor the wound closely for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. Keep your pet from licking or scratching the wound to promote healing. Severe bleeding, on the other hand, necessitates immediate veterinary care. Apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or gauze to control the bleeding while you seek emergency veterinary assistance. Additionally, if you notice blood in your pet’s urine, stool, or vomit, it is imperative to consult a vet immediately. 

Differences in Your Pup’s Eyes

Observing changes in your dog’s eyes can provide critical insights into their overall health. Common symptoms to watch for include cloudiness, redness, swelling, or discharge. Cloudy eyes can indicate cataracts, glaucoma, or corneal damage. Redness might suggest conjunctivitis, allergies, or inflammation. Swelling could be due to trauma, infections, or systemic conditions, while discharge, especially if thick or colored, often signals an infection or tear duct issues

For mild symptoms, such as slight redness or minor discharge, you can perform first aid at home. Gently clean the area around your dog’s eyes with a damp, clean cloth to remove any discharge. Ensure your pet avoids rubbing or scratching their eyes, as this can exacerbate the problem. However, if the condition worsens or fails to improve—if the cloudiness increases, redness becomes more pronounced, swelling persists, or discharge turns thick and yellow—it’s crucial to seek veterinary care ASAP.

Weakness, Inactivity, and Lethargy

Weakness, inactivity, and lethargy in pets are characterized by a noticeable decline in energy levels, reluctance to engage in usual activities, and prolonged periods of rest or sleep. These symptoms can arise from various causes, including infections, chronic diseases, pain, or metabolic issues. Sometimes, these signs may be due to temporary factors like a recent strenuous activity or minor illness, but persistent or severe lethargy often indicates a more serious underlying problem.

If your pet is still eating normally and displaying occasional lethargy, you can monitor them at home. Ensure they have a comfortable and quiet place to rest and provide plenty of fresh water. However, if your pet begins eating less or stops eating altogether, or if lethargy is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or difficulty breathing, you should seek veterinary care immediately.

Excessive Thirst or Loss of Thirst 

Ensuring your pet drinks water every day is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Excessive thirst, known as polydipsia, can be caused by conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or Cushing’s disease. Conversely, a loss of thirst, or decreased water intake, might indicate issues like dehydration, illness, or pain. Both excessive and insufficient water consumption can lead to serious health consequences, including kidney damage, urinary tract infections, and electrolyte imbalances.

To manage these issues, monitor your pet closely at home. Check the color and frequency of your dog’s urine, as dark or infrequent urination can signal dehydration, while excessive urination may indicate other health problems. If you notice persistent changes in your pet’s water intake, or if they exhibit other concerning symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, or changes in appetite, take them to the vet clinic for a thorough evaluation.

Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss

It’s normal for your dog to occasionally skip meals, especially due to hot weather or sudden changes in their environment. However, if this behavior becomes consistent, it may indicate an underlying health issue that requires examination.

When a lack of appetite is accompanied by weight loss or symptoms such as vomiting, it becomes more concerning. These signs can point to serious conditions like gastrointestinal disorders, infections, dental problems, or chronic diseases such as liver or kidney disease. In such cases, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care promptly to diagnose and address the root cause, ensuring your dog’s health and well-being.

Excessive Scratching or Skin Changes

Excessive scratching or skin changes in pets can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, parasites like fleas or mites, infections, or underlying health conditions such as dermatitis or autoimmune diseases. Symptoms to watch for include redness, swelling, hair loss, sores, scabs, or unusual odors. Persistent scratching and skin changes can lead to further complications like skin infections or open wounds.

Consider using over-the-counter treatments such as antihistamines for allergies, topical creams to soothe irritation, or flea treatments to eliminate parasites. Ensure your pet’s environment is clean and free from potential allergens, and maintain a regular grooming routine to keep their skin healthy. If the condition is severe—marked by persistent scratching, significant skin changes, or signs of infection—seek veterinary care as soon as possible. 

Difficulty or Inability to Walk

Symptoms of difficulty or inability to walk in pets include limping, dragging their feet, stiffness, unsteady gait, or complete immobility. These signs can be caused by various issues such as injuries (sprains, fractures), arthritis, hip dysplasia, neurological disorders, or underlying diseases like Lyme disease.

For minor cases, such as mild limping or stiffness, monitor your pet at home and limit their activity to prevent further strain. You can use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or joint supplements designed for pets to alleviate discomfort. Ensure they rest in a comfortable, supportive environment. If the symptoms are severe or persistent, such as continuous limping, inability to bear weight on a limb, or signs of significant pain, seek veterinary care immediately. 

Excessive Sneezing

Frequent sneezing in pets can indicate respiratory irritation, allergies, or a potential infection. Respiratory irritation can be caused by inhaling dust, smoke, or strong odors. Allergies to pollen, mold, or certain foods can also trigger sneezing. Additionally, infections such as kennel cough, canine influenza, or fungal infections can cause persistent sneezing, often accompanied by other symptoms like nasal discharge, coughing, or lethargy.

If your pet is sneezing excessively, it’s important to monitor their overall condition and other symptoms. While occasional sneezing might not be a cause for concern, continuous or severe sneezing warrants a consultation with a veterinarian. 

Aggressive or Unusual Behavior

Aggressive or unusual behavior in pets can manifest as growling, snapping, excessive barking, hiding, or uncharacteristic fearfulness. For example, a typically friendly dog might start showing aggression towards other pets or family members, or a usually active cat might become withdrawn and hide for extended periods. 

If your pet starts exhibiting aggressive or unusual behavior, monitor them closely at home for a short period. Try to identify any triggers or changes in their environment that could be causing stress. Ensure they have a quiet, safe space to retreat to and minimize any potential stressors. You can also try calming products like pheromone diffusers or anxiety wraps. However, if the behavior persists or escalates, make an appointment with your veterinarian. 

Problems Urinating or Defecating

Problems urinating or defecating in pets can manifest as straining, frequent attempts without success, pain, blood in urine or stool, and accidents in the house. Causes include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, gastrointestinal issues, constipation, or more serious conditions like blockages or tumors. These issues can lead to severe consequences such as kidney damage, infections, or life-threatening complications if left untreated.

Ensure your pet stays hydrated and maintain a high-fiber diet. Encourage regular exercise to promote healthy digestion and urination. You can also use over-the-counter remedies like stool softeners or urinary health supplements specifically designed for pets. However, if the problem persists or worsens, seek veterinary care ASAP. 

Loss of Consciousness

Loss of consciousness in pets is a serious symptom characterized by a sudden collapse, unresponsiveness, or fainting. Signs may include disorientation, weakness, or a complete lack of movement and awareness. Causes can range from severe dehydration, heatstroke, poisoning, heart problems, seizures, or traumatic injuries. Each of these conditions requires prompt attention to prevent potentially life-threatening consequences.

For immediate first aid at home, ensure your pet is in a safe, cool, and quiet environment. Check for breathing and a pulse, and try to keep them calm and comfortable. Avoid giving them food or water until they regain consciousness and you know the cause. If your pet’s condition does not improve quickly or if they lose consciousness again, take them to a vet clinic immediately. 


What do I do if I don’t have a regular veterinarian?

Research local veterinary clinics and read reviews. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or pet organizations. Choose a clinic that offers emergency services and has a good reputation. Establish a relationship with a vet before an emergency arises.

How do I tell if my dog is sick or just tired?

A tired dog will recover with rest and maintain normal eating and drinking habits. Signs of illness include persistent lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and changes in bathroom habits. Consult a vet if these symptoms persist or worsen.

How do I know if my dog is asking for help?

Signs your dog needs help include excessive whining, barking, pacing, hiding, limping, difficulty breathing, and changes in eating or drinking habits. If you notice sudden or dramatic changes in behavior or physical condition, consult your veterinarian.


Recognizing the common signs that your pet needs to see a vet is crucial for ensuring their health and well-being. Key symptoms to watch for include nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, bleeding, changes in the eyes, weakness and lethargy, excessive thirst or loss of thirst, loss of appetite and weight loss, excessive scratching or skin changes, difficulty or inability to walk, excessive sneezing, aggressive or unusual behavior, problems urinating or defecating, and loss of consciousness.

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Lily Watson is an author specializing in veterinary care in Australia. With a profound passion for animal welfare and a solid foundation in veterinary science, Lily has dedicated herself to disseminating valuable knowledge and information for both pet owners and professionals in this field.