5 Clinical signs to never ignore in pets

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RCL - Ultra Pet | Vet with animals

As pet owners it is difficult to know when we should worry. When is certain clinical signs a concern?

Experience as a veterinarian in practice for 9 years I learned the following:


It is normal for pets to pant after strenuous exercise, being outside on a hot day or after chasing a ball around the house.

The moment the panting lasts for long periods of time or intensifies, we need to become concerned. Your pet will shows increased respiratory effort and breathing will become more laboured.

Causes can be:

  • Heat stroke
  • Pain
  • Abnormalities in the chest cavity eg lung tumours, heart failure or pain.
2. Drooling

Certain breeds salivate more than others. For these breeds it is normal. The moment your pet start to salivate excessively without any reason it is definitely a sign that you need to be concerned.

The causes for excessive salivation are usually the following:

  • ¬†Nausea
  • Irritation in the mouth due to caustic substances
  • Dental disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Heat stroke
  • Poison
  • Foreign body in the mouth
  • Cancer in the mouth
3. Excessive water consumption

On a hot day or after exercise it is completely normal for pets to consume large amounts of water.

As owners we need to worry if your pet continuously start to drink a lot of water. Due to the increased water intake your pet will be urinating more.

Common causes for increased thirst are:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Kidney Failure
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Systemic infection
  • Fever
  • Caused by certain medication
4. A change in behaviour

We know our pets. We know when they are behaving abnormally. Any consistent change in behaviour is not normal.

Does your pet show irritability, no interest in playing, being aggressive, moodiness, anxiety, hyperactivity?

All of these can be a reason for a medical concern.  Before only behaviour can be blamed a full medical examination needs to be conducted. Possible causes may be:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pancreatitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parasites
  • Allergies Injuries
  • Heart disease
5. Change in odor

Pet owners often have the misconception that it is normal for pets to stink! Healthy pets never smell bad. If your pet has a change in odor or suddenly smells bad the following can be the culprit:

  • Dental disease
  • Ear infection
  • Skin infection
  • Diabetes mellitus

If your pet shows any of the above 5 signs it is definitely a cause of concern. The best action would be to contact your vet immediately.


  1. https://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-health/health-conditions/5-signs-to-never-ignore-in-pets/
  2. .https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-drooling-excessively
  3. https://vetspecialists.co.uk/fact-sheets-post/polydipsia-in-dogs-and-cats-increased-drinking-fact-sheet/