Indicators of Good Pet Health – Behaviour

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Monitoring Behaviour As a Sign of Health and Disease

While physical signs of health are important to monitor, behavioural changes are also key indicators of changes in health status. Pet owners must know what is normal behaviour for their animal as well as behavioural signs that may indicate something is wrong. 

Behavioural Signs in Dogs:

  • Sleeping more or less than usual. Dogs sleep on average 16-18 hours in bouts throughout the day. Human activity patterns can influence when and how much a dog sleeps. 
  • Changes in appetite. In general, dogs are always willing to eat at meal times. 
  • Drinking more or less than usual. Changes in environmental temperature and exercise can cause a temporary increase in water intake. But drinking excessively or refusing to drink can be a sign of illness. 
  • Lethargy. Disinterest in favourite activities such as going for walks or playing. If a dog suddenly stops wanting to engage in an activity they usually enjoy, this can be a sign of illness or injury.
  • Aggression. All dogs are capable of displaying aggression if they are feeling threatened or in pain. Sudden aggression is a sign that requires veterinary attention. 
  • Sudden phobias (fears). This could include fear of loud noises, people, or things that the dog was previously not scared of. 

Behavioural Signs in Cats:

  • Hiding. Some cats are more social than others, but changes in the amount of time the cat spends around people can indicate a health issue. 
  • Changes in appetite. Cats eat small meals throughout the day. Refusing to eat is a sign that something may be wrong. 
  • Drinking more or less than usual. 
  • Aggression. There are many reasons why a cat may display aggression. Health and environmental factors must be considered. 
  • Changes in litter box habits. A cat that suddenly begins soiling outside the litter box may be ill or in distress.

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