Dr. Steinam’s 3 “A’s” for Healthy Pets

south bay veterinariansHow Do You Know if Your Pet is Sick?

Sometimes it can be difficult to assess whether your cat or dog is just “out-of-sorts” – or they are facing a more serious medical issue that requires immediate action.  Our experienced & caring veterinarian Dr. Steinam discusses the “3 A’s” that can help any responsible pet owner decide when to take action, and when to wait-it-out for just a bit.

As humans we have good days and bad days. Some days we’re ready to take on the world - and other days we’d just as soon stay in bed. This is true for our pets, too!

Eating something that didn’t agree with us, or not getting enough sleep, are just a couple of the many daily occurrences that can leave us and our pets feeling less than our best. But since Fido and Fluffy can’t tell us what’s going on, it can be hard to sort out when they are having a bad day – and when they may be showing signs of an illness or condition that warrants a trip to our veterinarians.

Our clients frequently call our veterinarian hospital in this situation. SO our Veterinarians we have a fairly standard set of guidelines that we use to aid in deciding whether to seek care at that moment or not. I call these “the rule of 3 A’s”: Activity, Appetite, and Attitude.

How Do I know if My Pet is Sick? Activity

Assessing activity in our pets involves observing all of their daily endeavors whenever they aren’t sleeping. Are they engaging in their normal routine activities, such as: getting up after sleeping, using the yard or litter box to eliminate; stretching and grooming? Are they acting normal when they are with us, such as enjoying walks, or chasing a toy? Is their behavior also typical without us, including: watching squirrels out a window, or barking at passersby?

If they are NOT following their routine, we need to look at reasonable & acceptable reasons for the difference in activity. Perhaps a change in the weather, an alteration of the family’s schedule, noise, or unusual activity inside or outside the house have disrupted them. But if there is no plausible reason for the difference in behavior, then it’s time to start considering that there may be something wrong with the pet.

How Do I know if My Pet is Sick? Appetite

Appetite, of all the “3 A’s”, is typically the easiest to assess – especially in a single pet household. If the normal amount of food that’s put down is eaten at meals, or by the end of the day, we can assume appetite is fine.

Obviously, in a multiple pet household, one pet may eat the rations meant for another pet, so it can be harder to assess appetite. In this case, pets may need to be separated and fed separately.

Loss of appetite is almost always a sign that something is wrong – and can be an indication of a minor malady or a more serious illness. So, the key observation to make is if your pet is eating “normally” for their routine or regular eating habits.

How Do I know if My Pet is Sick? Attitude

“Attitude” is a little harder to delineate in pets. But, this is area of observation in which most loving and responsible owners excel. In assessing your cat or dog’s attitude, compare their normal demeanor – happy, grouchy, quiet, observant, excitable, or easy-going – to their current behavior. Observe their interest towards interacting with other human and pet members of the family.

A change in attitude is usually more towards depression or dullness, but occasionally can manifest itself as hyper-excitement or anxiousness. Sudden and unexplained changes in attitude can be an indicator of a minor problem or a more serious medical condition.

 Our veterinary staff’s rule regarding the “3 A’s” is this:

  • If 2 out of the 3 A’s are normal, then it is not an emergency situation.
  • If 2 of the 3 are abnormal, then it is best to schedule an appointment to be examined by a veterinarian.

Of course, nothing is 100% certain. And there are times where only 1 category might be off enough that it may be an indication by itself of an underlying serious medical condition.

For example, very hot weather can make any pet feel lethargic, not want to eat, and keep them from doing much other than rest. But an ongoing & complete absence of eating, in and of itself, can be troubling. Often just a little more time will often reveal whether there has been a reversal in all 3 categories, or if the “3 A’s” have not improved.

So the rule of “3 A’s” is a good measure to come back to at any time the health of a pet is in question.

Anytime you are unsure how to interpret your pet’s change in behavior please call our Manhattan Beach veterinarians. We are always here to listen to your concerns and evaluate your pet’s health. Of course, it is always better to be safe than sorry – so  never hesitate to call us!

Call our Manhattan Beach Veterinarians at: 310-536-9654

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