What Behaviour Tells Us About Normal or Abnormal Health


Icon of a book Signs of Normal and Abnormal Health of Cats & Dogs

Dogs:

With good care and monitoring, most dogs stay healthy and require minimal health care. However, a dog’s behaviour can provide indicators that something may be wrong. 

Changes in a dog’s normal routine can signal illness or disorders. Dogs should be regularly observed and monitored if they: 

  • Are sneezing frequently or have any nasal or eye discharge.
  • Show signs of difficulty with walking or moving.
  • Are lethargic or less active than usual.
  • Have a dramatic increase in appetite for more than 24 hours. 
  • Are thirstier than normal.
  • Are losing weight. 
  • Vocalizing for no apparent reason. 
  • Are coughing. 
  • Are shivering. 
  • Have difficulty breathing or pant for a long period of time. 
  • Have difficulty eliminating waste through constipation or have diarrhea. 
  • Have a thick discharge from eyes, ears or nose. 
  • Scratch at eyes or ears persistently.

Cats:

With good care and monitoring, most cats stay healthy and require minimal health care. However, a cat’s behaviour can provide indicators that something may be wrong. 

Cats are usually active and playful as kittens as well as they age. A consistent appetite and consumption of plenty of water are good indicators of health.

Changes in a cat’s normal routine can signal illness or disorders. Cats should be regularly observed and monitored if they: 

  • Show either an increase or decrease in their appetite. 
  • Have behavioural problems, such as sudden aggression or lethargy. 
  • Have difficulty eliminating waste through constipation or have diarrhea. 
  • Have problems urinating.
  • Lose hair or show signs of itching. 
  • Have any lumps, bumps or scabs. 
  • Sneeze frequently or have nasal or eye discharge. 
  • Show signs that they are weak or lame.

Icon of a graded written submission Signs of Normal and Abnormal Health (Activity)

Did you know that normal behaviour can be determined by observing the habits of a healthy animal? Once you determine what normal behaviour means for your animal, abnormal behaviour is easier to identify. 

Actual observations of animals and their behaviour are an important aspect of animal care. Animal behaviour can be compared to our body language – it’s a method of communication. Animal behaviour can let us know whether animals are experiencing discomfort or if their needs are not being met. 

Physical examinations of animals can help to determine their state of health, as well as any abnormal behaviour. Physical examinations should involve the use of all your senses – seeing, smelling, listening, touching and sometimes, tasting. 

Take a few minutes to complete the following activity. 

Activity Instructions

  1. Open your copy of the activities booklet for this module which you saved on your computer at the beginning of the module.
  2. Scroll down to the “Signs of Normal and Abnormal Health” activity item in the booklet. TIP: The links provided in the “Weblinks” item located later in this module will help you complete the activity.
  3. Complete each of the activities outlined in the instructions.
  4. SAVE your work.

When you are done, proceed to the next item here in the online course.


Photo Credit: Mutt Love Photography

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